For many people, diet is a four-letter word, and it really should be. A diet isn’t something that you choose to live by for a few weeks out of the year so that you drop a few pounds and fit into your old jeans again. A diet is a lifestyle – one that allows you to maintain a healthy weight after you lose unwanted pounds. If you’re on a diet and you aren’t losing weight, you may be trying to diet the wrong way. The key to weight loss is about understanding what a long-term diet really is. Let’s take a look at some ways you get on track with a healthy weight loss and weight maintenance program.
Don’t Lose Too Much Too Fast
- Cutting calories is great, but a healthy diet doesn’t mean you’re going to drop 10 pounds in a week.
- In fact, most doctors recommend that you lose no more than a pound or two per week.
- It takes a deficit of 3,500 calories for you to lose one pound, so if you reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories per day, you’ll lose one pound per week.
- A deficit of 1,000 calories per day will result in a net loss of two pounds per week.
- Losing any more weight than that per week will require you to eat an extremely restrictive diet, which won’t be possible to maintain after you lose weight.
- For most people that go on calorie restrictive diets like that – ones that help them lose more than a pound or two per week – end up gaining the weight back as soon as they return to eating in a more normal manner.
Cut the Junk Out
- The biggest part of a healthy diet is cutting out all of the foods that are bad for you – or at the very least, reducing how much of them you eat.
- Fast food, foods with a lot of preservatives, large amounts of saturated fat and sugar should be avoided or limited to the occasional treat.
- Cutting the junk out of your diet will help you reduce your caloric intake and lose weight.
Focus on Lean Protein
- Lean proteins are the building blocks of a healthy diet, and they’ll allow you to get the nutrients you need without all of the fat.
- Sources of lean protein include beans, eggs, low-fat yogurt, skinless chicken, skinless turkey and fish.
- Replace high-fat protein sources like steak, ground beef and pork with lean protein sources.
- You’ll cut calories and still get the protein you need.
Eat High Fiber Foods
Foods that are rich in fiber like broccoli, oats, spinach, whole wheat bread and apples just to name a few, will help you to feel full for longer, making it easier to reduce your caloric intake. Most foods that are high in fiber also packed with other nutrients and vitamins that you need to stay healthy. Replace foods that you already eat with their high fiber brethren. Switch enriched pasta and white bread for whole wheat pasta and bread. Replace sugary snacks with fresh fruit.
What you eat is important when it comes to weight loss and maintenance, but exercise is equally as important. For many people, a lack of exercise is the reason they aren’t losing weight. When you first start exercising, aim to work out three days per week just to get in a rhythm and build up some endurance. Once your body gets used to exercise, you should go for five to six days per week, depending on your weight loss goals. For weight loss, moderate-intensity and cardiovascular exercises are best. Running, jogging, cycling, swimming or playing a sport that involves running like basketball or tennis is ideal for losing weight and toning your body. Weight training can also help you lose weight by boosting your metabolism and keeping your body in an anabolic, fat-burning state for a considerable amount of time after lifting weights.
For most, lifting light weights once or twice per week is enough. If you’re not really looking to build a lot of muscle that’s visible, stick with more repetitions of lighter weights instead of fewer repetitions of increasingly heavy weights. Also, if you are just extremely weary of weight lifting at all, try Pilates or Yoga. Both will tone your body and give your muscles definition without the bulge.