Losing weight – and keeping it off for good – is tougher than it seems for many women. In fact, according to a study published in a 2010 edition of the “International Journal of Obesity,” only about one in six U.S. adults is able to maintain a 10 percent weight loss for at least a year. However, using some simple healthy weight loss tips can help you shed pounds for good.
Reducing Energy Intake
Although rapid weight loss seems like a good idea, it can decrease your chances for long-term success. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, aim to reduce your current intake by 500 to 1,000 calories a day to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, which is a safe – and effective -- strategy. The Academy suggests reducing dietary fat, carbohydrates or both as a practical way to decrease your energy intake. Cutting back on sugar, which is rich in carbohydrates but provides few additional nutrients, is a good place to start.
Controlling your portion sizes and eating small meals throughout the day can help your body adjust to a reduced-calorie diet. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute reports most women need 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day for effective weight loss, but women who exercise regularly and women over 164 pounds likely need 1,200 to 1,600 calories daily for healthy weight loss. Make your calories count by choosing a variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables and plenty of protein-rich foods – like legumes, low-fat dairy foods, lean meats, seafood, soy products, nuts and seeds.
A key component of healthy weight loss is to avoid losing too much weight too quickly. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute encourages overweight women to lose up to 10 percent of their initial body weight, then maintain that weight loss for six months before attempting further weight loss. For example, if your initial weight was 160 pounds, attempt a period of weight maintenance after losing about 16 pounds.
Mayo Clinic reports that cutting calories seems to work better than boosting physical activity when it comes to shedding pounds. However, exercise can help enhance your weight loss – and burn extra body fat. Exercising regularly can also help you keep lost weight off long-term, according to a study published in a 2007 edition of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” To help maintain weight loss, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting 60 to 90 minutes of exercise on a daily basis.
- International Journal of Obesity: Long-Term Weight Loss Maintenance in the United States
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: American Dietetic Association Publishes Evidence-based Nutrition Practice Guidelines for Registered Dietitians
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: How are Overweight and Obesity Treated?
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Long-Term Weight Losses Associated with Prescription of Higher Physical Activity Goals. Are Higher Levels of Physical Activity Protective Against Weight Regain?
- Mayo Clinic: Which is Better for Weight Loss — Cutting Calories or Increasing Exercise?
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Aim for a Healthy Weight
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.