The hard and fast rule of weight loss is that you must take in fewer calories than you burn if you want to shed weight. For every 3,500 calories burned, you lose a pound of body fat. If you reduce your regular intake of calories by 500 each day, you can typically expect to lose a pound each week. The good news is that many foods are not only weight-loss friendly, but also help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other health problems. When you combine eating the right foods with regular exercise, you create the perfect recipe for maintaining health and slimming down fast.
Eat breakfast every morning. Since your body is drained of fuel sources after a night's sleep, breakfast kicks your metabolism into gear and provides energy to start the day. Eating breakfast keeps hunger pangs at bay and helps you focus and concentrate throughout the day. Low-fat yogurt with berries or cooked oatmeal made with water instead of milk and sprinkled with raisins are good low-calorie choices.
Choose fresh fruits and vegetables over high-calorie snacks and desserts. Low-fat, plant-based foods, such as apples, carrots and oranges, are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which help protect your body's cells from damage. With the exception of peas, corn and potatoes, the calorie content of most fresh vegetables and fruit is low, which means you can indulge in abundant amounts and still lose weight.
Drink water. It helps you feel full, hydrates your body, flushes toxins out of your body's organs and carries nutrients to your cells. When your body is dehydrated, or doesn't have enough water to carry out normal functions, you feel tired and drained of energy and may be tempted to reach for a high-calorie snack. While the experts at MayoClinic.com state that individual water needs vary, they recommend that you drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day.
Eat lean and low-fat protein foods to shed weight. Choose low-fat dairy products, such as low-fat yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese and non-fat milk. Stick to broiled chicken breasts, turkey and fish, and forgo cuts of meat with higher saturated fat content like beef. Make your morning omelet with two egg whites instead of whole eggs, and fill it with steamed vegetables, like asparagus, rather than high-calorie foods, such as cheese.
Reduce your portion sizes and eat slowly. Put your fork down between bites of food. Take your time eating and observe when you begin to feel satisfied. If you stop eating when you feel satisfied, rather than when you feel full, you save calories, which results in quicker weight loss.
Cut out fast foods. These foods are usually served in large portions, are loaded with fat or sugar and contain chemicals or preservatives. According to Harvard School of Public Health, the results of a study that followed 3,000 young adults for 13 years showed that those who had higher fast food intake levels weighed an average of 13 pounds more than those with the lowest food intake levels. They also had larger waist circumferences.
Get moving. Exercise revs up your metabolism, resulting in quicker weight loss. Harvard Medical School reports that regular exercise increases your resting energy expenditure, which means you continue to burn calories even when your workout is over. Walking and jogging burns roughly 100 calories per mile, which means you'll lose a pound of body fat for every 35 miles you walk.
- If you're on medications or experiencing health issues, talk with your doctor about the best way to proceed with your weight-loss program.
- Harvard University: Harvard Medical School: Harvard Health Publications: Tips to Help You Reach Your Exercise and Weight Loss Goals
- Harvard University: Harvard School of Public Health: The Obesity Prevention Source: Food and Diet
- Cabrini College: Student Life: Health and Wellness: Power Up with Breakfast
- MayoClinic.com: Water: How Much Should You Drink Every Day
- Liquidlibrary/liquidlibrary/Getty Images