What You Need to Know Before Getting Started
Weight loss can be achieved either by eating fewer calories or by burning more calories with physical activity, preferably both.
A healthy weight loss program consists of:
- A reasonable, realistic weight loss goal
- A reduced calorie, nutritionally-balanced eating plan
- A behavior change plan to help you stay on track with your goals
We want to help you with each of these components.
Keep in Mind
- Calories count
- Portions count
- Nutrition counts
- Even a small amount of weight loss can lead to big health benefits
- Strive to develop good habits to last a lifetime
- Discuss weight loss with your doctor before getting started
- Check your Body Mass Index (BMI) - an indicator of body fat - and see where it fits within the BMI categories.
- Discuss weight loss with your doctor and decide on a goal. If you have a lot of weight to lose, set a realistic intermediate goal, maybe to lose 10 pounds. Remember that even a small amount of weight loss can lead to big health benefits.
- Estimate your calorie needs. Using USDA's online Adult Energy Needs and BMI Calculator, you can determine the number of calories needed each day to maintain your current weight. To lose about 1 pound per week, subtract 500 calories each day from the daily amount. To lose about 2 pounds per week, subtract 1000 calories daily.
How Do I Know Which Weight Loss Plan is Right For Me?
- Keep in mind that you want to develop lifestyle habits that will help you maintain your weight in a healthy range. A short-term "diet" that you "go on" and then "go off" is not the answer to long-term weight management.
- In choosing how to go about losing weight, keep in mind key habits of people who have lost weight and kept in off. These people are called "Successful Losers" by the weight control experts who have studied them.
Key Behaviors of Successful Losers*
- Reducing calorie and fat intake
- Eating regular meals, including breakfast
- Weighing themselves regularly
- Not letting small "slips" turn into large weight regain
*From The National Weight Control Registry. See "Long-term Weight Maintenance" in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 82, No. 1, 222S-225S, July 2005.
Resources for Healthy Eating
Resources for Healthy Activity
Staying On Track with Your Goals
Setting realistic goals and tracking your progress are key to your success. In fact, research has shown that those who keep track of their behaviors are more likely to take off weight and keep it off. A reasonable rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week.