Although many weight loss diets promise a quick fix for those extra inches, losing weight at a healthy pace of 1 to 2 pounds per week can help you keep lost weight off long term, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Healthy weight loss allows you to lose weight safely, while reducing risks for negative side effects. The right diet and exercise program can help you shed pounds for good.
Drinking water instead of sugary drinks—or diet drinks—is a calorie-free way to help you feel full. Drinking water often throughout the day, especially before meals, may help you control your calorie intake. Although many diet drinks are also calorie-free, a review published in a 2010 edition of the “Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine” reports that artificial sweeteners found in diet drinks may actually contribute to weight gain because they encourage sugar cravings and sugar dependence.
Reducing your current energy intake by 500 to 1,000 calories a day will help you meet your goal of a 1- to 2-pound per week weight loss. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, most women should aim for 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day for weight loss, while active women and women over 164 pounds may require 1,200 to 1,600 calories each day to achieve safe weight loss. Reducing your intake of empty calories, refined grains and added sugars is a good place to start when trying to cut calories.
Choose High-Fiber Foods
Fiber-rich foods can help fill you up—and keep you feeling full. A review published in a 2009 edition of “Nutrition Reviews” found that increasing fiber intake enhances weight loss in obese individuals. This review recommends eating 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you eat. For example, if you’re following a 1,200-calorie weight loss plan, aim for at least 17 grams of fiber each day. Fiber-rich foods include legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Although you’ll likely lose minimal weight exercising without dieting, a review published in a 2007 edition of the “Journal of the American Dietetic Association” found that combining diet with exercise can help you lose excess weight and keep the weight off long term. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends participating in 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week, and resistance training—like weight lifting—at least two days per week.
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: How are Overweight and Obesity Treated?
- Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine: Gain Weight by “Going Diet?” Artificial Sweeteners and the Neurobiology of Sugar Cravings
- Nutrition Reviews: Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber
- Journal of the American Dietetic Association: Weight-Loss Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Weight-Loss Clinical Trials with a Minimum 1-Year Follow-Up
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Summary
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.