There are many ways to lose weight, but it is not always easy to keep the weight off. The key to successful weight loss is making changes in your eating and physical activity habits that you can keep up for the rest of your life. The information presented in this article may help put you on the road to healthy habits.
Some of the more common weight-related health problems include: diabetes, heart attack or stroke; high blood pressure; high cholesterol; gallbladder disease; some types of cancer; osteoarthritis (wearing away of the joints and bone weakness); sleep apnea (interrupted breathing during sleep).
Health experts agree that you gain health benefits from even a small weight loss if: you are obese based on your body mass index (BMI); you are overweight based on your BMI and have weight-related health problems; or you have a waist that measures more than 40 inches if you are a man or more than 35 inches if you are a woman. A weight loss of 5 to 15 percent of body weight may improve your health and quality of life, and prevent some of the above mentioned health problems. For a person who weighs 200 pounds, that means losing from 10 to 30 pounds.
YOur body weight is controlled by the number of calories you eat and the number of calories your body burns each day. To lose weight, you obviously need to burn more calories than you take in. You can do this by creating and following a plan for healthy eating as well as a plan for regular physical activity.
The average calories needed to maintain current weight are as follows: about 1,600 calories a day for an inactive woman; about 2,200 calories a day for inactive men and active women; about 2,800 calories a day for active men. If you truly want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to reduce your caloric intake and maximize the number of calories used.
A weight-loss "diet" that limits you to very small portions or that totally exclude certain foods may be hard to stick with and probably will not work over the long term. Instead, a healthy eating plan takes into account your likes and dislikes, and includes a variety of foods that provide you enough calories and nutrients to maintain good health.
Make sure your eating plan contains the appropriate calorie level--your plan should let you lose about 1 pound a week. This means eating about 300 to 500 fewer calories per day than you do now. BY losing the weight slowly there is a much better chance that it will stay off.
Be sure you get enough vitamins and minerals. If you eat less than 1,600 calories, you may want to add fortified foods such as breakfast cereal to your plan, or take a daily vitamin and mineral supplement.
Everyone, including dieters, need protein. If you are a woman 19 years of age or older, you should get about 46 grams of protein each day. If you a man the same age, you should get 56 grams a day. Protein is important to make repairs to the body and prevent muscle breakdown.
Despite recent "fad" diets, about 55 percent of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates. However, this does not mean cake and cookies. Your carb calories should come from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. If you eat 1,500 calories a day, that means about 200 grams of carbohydrates. You need at least 130 grams of carbs each day to prevent fatigue and nausea.
Lastly, you should limit your daily intake of fat calories to NO more than 30 percent of your total diet. If you are eating 1,500 calories a day, you should consume no more than 50 grams of fat. Limiting fat consumption usually allows you to reduce caloric intake, which in turn, may help you lose weight.
It is not always easy to change a lifetime of eating and physical activity habits. You may have setbacks and frustration along the way. But keep trying--YOU CAN DO IT! The results will be a happier, healthier, more satisfied you.
Larry Denton is a retired history teacher having taught 33 years at Hobson High in Hobson, Montana. He is currently V.P. of Elfin Enterprises, an Internet business providing useful information on a variety of topics. For a USDA Food Pyramid full of information and resources about weight loss, visit http://www.WeightLossWill.com