Losing weight can have several health benefits — but only if done safely and correctly. Follow these tips to make sure your weight loss doesn’t come at the expense of your overall health.
Focus on Lifestyle Changes
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It’s tempting to choose a fad diet that promises big, fast results. However, when you try to slim down as quickly as possible, your weight loss may be hard to maintain. Experts agree that it’s best to lose weight gradually, at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week. Instead of jumping on every diet bandwagon that comes along, make sustainable lifestyle changes.
Avoid extremes like cutting out an entire food group. Instead, focus on portion control. Cut back on processed foods and choose fruits and vegetables instead. Make healthy changes you know you can stick to. You may lose weight a little more slowly, but it will be easier to keep the weight off. A balanced diet will also help you improve your health instead of simply dropping pounds.
Set Smaller Goals for Yourself
Although it’s fine to have a big long-term goal, such as losing 50 pounds, you should set smaller short-term goals too. Goals that take too long to achieve can leave you feeling discouraged, so break your ultimate goal down into smaller steps that will seem more manageable and give you milestones to celebrate during your weight loss journey. For instance, your first goal could be to lose 4 percent of your body weight.
Make sure the goals you set meet the SMART criteria: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and trackable. You may need to do some research or talk to your doctor for determining whether your goals are attainable and realistic.
Pair Your Diet With Exercise
Calorie counting can be an effective weight loss plan, but unless you pair your diet with exercise, part of your weight loss will be from muscle. That’s probably not what you had in mind when you decided to lose weight.
Lifesum offers a few simple guidelines to help you lose weight without losing muscle. For instance, dieters should remember that calories alone don’t tell the entire story. You’ll get better results if you also monitor the amounts and ratios of macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs) you consume. You should also consider weight training. You only need to use heavy weights two or three times a week to see results, and as you build muscle, your body will get even better at burning calories.
Get All the Nutrients You Need
You may think that the fewer calories you eat, the faster you will lose weight. That’s true to an extent, but if your calorie consumption drops below a certain point, your body will respond by slowing down its metabolism. You’ll also be lacking the nutrients your body needs to function properly. Rather than starving yourself or skipping meals, look for healthy ways to curb your hunger, eat better, and exercise more.
Remember, if you lose weight too quickly or the wrong way, you could be doing more harm than good. Instead, take a gradual, balanced approach to weight loss, with an emphasis on making healthy lifestyle changes that you can maintain.