In 2017, Live Science is bringing our readers a monthly series of personal health goals, with tips and tricks we’ve gathered from the many health experts we’ve interviewed. Each month, we’ll focus on a different goal, and the goal for January is Lose Weight. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to connect with other readers who are working toward these goals.
If you’re like many Americans, one of your New Year’s resolutions is to shed some pounds. In fact, about a third of Americans say they want to make a commitment to lose weight in the New Year, according to a Nielsen survey from 2015. But starting a weight-loss regimen may seem daunting, particularly if you’ve tried in the past, only to see the weight come back later. Here, we’ve outlined some of the best tips for losing weight, including how to get started, stay motivated and keep weight off.
Why Lose Weight?
Obesity is known to increase the risk of many health conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol levels, cancer, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and gallstones. But there’s good news: Obese people who lose as little as 3 to 5 percent of their body weight can see improvements in their health.
More on obesity and health:
- Small Weight Loss Leads to Big Health Gains
- 5 Ways Obesity Affects the Brain
- Even Temporary Weight Loss Can Have Heart Benefits
- Weight Loss Improves Sex
- Obesity’s Toll: 11 Million Doctor’s Visits Yearly
How to Get Started
Although there’s no single “best” way to lose weight, a successful weight-loss program usually involves cutting back on your calories, increasing your physical activity and making behavioral changes to help you stick with a diet and exercise regimen over the long term. Here’s how to get started:
1. Take a close look at your current lifestyle.
Before you start, try keeping a food dairy.
2. Set a realistic goal.
Doctors generally recommend that people aim to lose 5 to 10 percent of their body weight over six months. You should expect gradual, steady weight loss, but not immediate results.
3. Calculate your caloric intake.
To lose weight, you’ll need to consume fewer calories than you burn. The exact number will depend on your current weight and activity level, but generally, people should aim to cut 250 to 1,000 calories from their diet per day in order to lose 0.5 to 2 lbs. (0.2 to 0.9 kilograms) per week. There are calculators available to help you determine how many calories you should consume per day.
4. Eat foods that keep you full.
Some experts recommend a low-glycemic diet that’s high in protein, fiber and healthy oils, and low in starches and other sugars. This diet may help combat feelings of hunger.
5. Get moving.
You should aim to meet physical-activity guidelines of at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as brisk walking) every week. But you can break this down into short bouts of exercise, such as three 10-minute walks per day.
6. Monitor your progress.
You should keep track of your progress toward your goals and tweak them if needed. For example, you may want to use a pedometer or other device to keep track of how far you’re walking.
- The Best Way to Lose Weight Safely
- How to Track Food Intake with Less Fuss
- 4 Calorie-Cutting Tips That Won’t Leave You Hungry
- Why High-Fiber Diets May Help Weight Loss
- Will Staying Hydrated Help with Weight Loss?
- How to Start an Exercise Routine and Stick to It
When the Going Gets Tough
It can be difficult to stay motivated throughout the year, but here are some tips for when the going gets tough:
- If you fall behind on exercise, try setting a specific goal, such as running or walking a 5K. It also may be a good idea to exercise with a friend because it holds you accountable.
- Tricks such as using smaller plates and tall, narrow glasses can also help you eat and drink less without consciously thinking about it, studies have shown.
- Make sure you get enough sleep. Getting too little sleep may increase levels of an appetite-stimulating hormone called ghrelin and decrease levels of the hormone leptin, which makes you feel full, according to the National Institutes of Health. This may lead to an increase in hunger and make it harder to stick to a diet.