There are countless people who want to lose weight, ranging from those hoping to shed just a few pounds to those who need major weight loss. Some people opt for unsafe methods of losing weight. For example, some people follow fad diets that not only limit the number of calories they consume, but also limit the nutrients their bodies must have to continue functioning properly. Others may use pills or extreme exercise to shed unwanted weight. Many people experience better success and steady weight loss, however, by employing safe weight loss methods; this often includes working with a nutrition professional to structure a proper diet and scheduling time with a personal trainer to develop an exercise routine.
The first thing a person may do to ensure safe weight loss is talk to his doctor or a nutritionist. Either of these professionals may help an individual to determine the number of daily calories he needs to consume to lose weight and protect his health. For example, some people may attempt to follow 1100-calorie diets when their bodies actually need a minimum of 1200 calories to function optimally. Reducing caloric intake too much can leave a person feeling depleted and may even lead to serious health problems.
The number of calories an individual needs to consume varies from person to person. In determining the minimum number, a doctor or nutritionist may consider the person’s current weight, age, gender, and activity level. Those who are less physically active tend to need fewer calories. There are also some online calculators that help a person to estimate his daily caloric needs. People are often advised not to reduce their daily intake below 1200 calories.
Your weight is a balancing act, and calories are part of that equation. Fad diets may promise you that counting carbs or eating a mountain of grapefruit will make the pounds drop off. But when it comes to weight loss, it’s calories that count. Weight loss comes down to burning more calories than you take in. You can do that by reducing extra calories from food and beverages and increasing calories burned through physical activity.
If you have serious health problems because of your weight, your doctor may suggest weight-loss surgery or medications for you. In this case, you and your doctor will need to thoroughly discuss the potential benefits and the possible risks.
But don’t forget the bottom line: The key to successful weight loss is a commitment to making permanent changes in your diet and exercise habits.
Weight Loss Tips
The best weight loss tips support the tried and true method of losing weight, which is reducing calories and fat while increasing physical activity. Eating balanced, healthy meals and snacks is important because otherwise the body may become easily fatigued. When people are feeling tired and lacking in energy, they tend to gravitate toward sugary and fatty foods that may cause weight gain rather than weight reduction. The hope to lose pounds can instead turn into an increased gain in belly fat if high-calorie, high-fat foods aren’t combined in small portions as part of a sensible, calorie-restricted eating plan.
Not thinking of an eating plan as a diet to go on and then off of is one of the best weight loss tips, because it can help prevent a yo-yo dieting mentality. Yo-yo dieting refers to losing weight on a diet and then gaining it back when returning to one’s regular eating habits. The weight comes back because eating by fluctuating greatly in calorie and fat intake interferes with the body’s metabolism. Metabolism is the body’s system of using energy from food. A healthy eating plan that is no more than 500 calories less than the amount needed to maintain one’s current weight is often recommended as a good way to lose weight without interfering with proper metabolism.
Exercising for a half an hour, three times a week is generally recommended as the minimum starting amount of exercise to help lose pounds. Gradually working up to exercising for an hour daily is one of the best weight loss tips because a gradual increase in the time spent on exercise is less strenuous on the body, plus many fitness experts say that daily exercise is needed to burn fat properly. Regular exercise increases the body’s metabolism and makes it a more efficient burner of excess food energy that would otherwise turn into fat.
Eating more fruits and vegetables can make the body more energetic and help fight feelings of fatigue that could lead to a lessened desire to exercise. Vegetables and fruits are also high in fiber which can help the body feel fuller. Eating a piece of fruit rather than a rich dessert after a balanced meal is one of the best weight loss tips as it can provide filling fiber and essential vitamins while adding a sweetness that makes it taste dessert-like.
Another of the best weight loss tips for keeping a person on track to losing weight is keeping a food and exercise journal or diary. The beginning of the weight loss journal could list favorite foods with their portion sizes, calorie counts and other information. The pages could then be dated with spaces to fill in the foods planned and eaten for each meal. Exercise sessions could also be kept track of in the journal. Many people find it extremely helpful to write their feelings about food in the diary to help them better understand their problems with achieving weight loss so that they can continue in their goal of weight reduction.
Weight Loss Diets
I Love This Diet: Frozen Meal Plan
I Love This Diet is a weight loss plan centered on Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, and Smart Ones frozen meals with the addition of fresh fruit, vegetables and low fat dairy products. It is designed by a dietitian to be nutritionally adequate and help you to achieve a weight loss of one to two pounds per week.
Frozen Meal Diet Basics
I Love This Diet is very simple to understand. You will be given a daily calorie allowance based on your current weight. As you start to lose weight your calorie intake is adjusted accordingly. Each day you will consume a healthy light breakfast, one frozen meal for lunch and one frozen meal for dinner. Even though most frozen meals do contain vegetables you will also add an extra four servings of vegetables to your daily meals, with at least three of these being non-starchy vegetables.
You have the option of preparing meals from scratch if you prefer. The book includes a variety of recipes under 300 calories for those times when you don’t feel like eating a frozen meal.
In addition you will consume three servings of fruit a day and two cups of non-fat milk (or allowable substitutes such as nonfat yogurt, fat-free cheese or fortified soy milk). Dieters are also permitted to choose one treat daily from a list of options including items like cookies, cakes, ice cream, and popcorn, but this must be less than 100 calories.
Alcohol is discouraged because it is high in calories and tends to increase the likelihood of making unhealthy food choices, however if you desire you can substitute one glass of wine or light beer in place of a treat, up to two times a week.
While following this diet it is recommended that you take a daily multivitamin and 1200mg of fish oil, to make sure all of your nutritional needs are being met.
Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice frozen meals, Slim Fast shakes, fruit, vegetables, whole grain cereal, whole wheat bread, skim milk, nonfat yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu, egg whites, light peanut butter, baked potato chips, microwave popcorn, Weight Watcher’s ice cream bars, low calorie salad dressing, Splenda, coffee, tea, diet soda.
Sample I Love This Diet Meal Plan
- 1 cup Honey Nut Cheerios
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1 cup raspberries
- Nabisco Chips Ahoy 100 calorie pack
- Progresso 99% Fat Free Lentil Minestrone
- Caesar salad
- ½ cup grapes
- 1 cup nonfat yogurt
- Lean Cuisine Lasagna with Meat Sauce
- 1 cup steamed broccoli
It is acknowledged that daily physical activity is healthy for you, but exercise is not required for weight loss with this program.
1200 Calorie Diet
A diet based on 1200 calories daily is the recommended minimum for safe and healthy weight loss. This is because 1200 calories will generally provide an adequate nutritional intake for most individuals, yet still allows the reduction of calories to the level that most dieters require in order to lose weight.
Many diet plans for weight loss that are developed by nutritionists and health professionals are based on 1200 calories daily.
This diet plan is centered around the concept of calorie control. If dieters are consuming less calories than they are expending then this will result in weight loss.
Dieters are to consume 1200 calories daily. This will involve the need to consult with either books or online resources that list the calorie content of each food.
There are no specific foods recommended on this plan however dieters are likely to experience a greater degree of success when the diet is based on fresh and unprocessed foods including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and lean proteins.
Sample Diet Plan
- 1 cup bran cereal
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1 banana
- Tuna sandwich with whole grain bread and low fat mayo
- 2 cups raw vegetable crudités (carrot, red pepper, celery)
- 1 small apple
- Sparkling water with lemon
- 3 oz grilled chicken breast
- ¾ cup steamed green beans
- Salad with 1 cup lettuce, ½ cup cherry tomatoes, ½ cup grated carrot
- 2 teaspoons olive oil and balsamic vinegar
- 1 fresh peach
- 1 small pear
There are no specific recommendations for this diet however dieters should be aware that daily exercise is important for maintaining weight loss and for general health.
Conversely excessive exercise may actually not be beneficial on this plan because the calories and nutritional intake is too low to sustain high levels of physical activity.
Proven Weight Loss Supplements For Women and Men
Which weight loss supplements really work?
Losing weight can dramatically improve your emotional and physical health, but it can be a slow process. So it’s no wonder that 15% of American adults use diet supplements to boost weight loss, opting for a range of products that claim to decrease appetite, block fat absorption, or increase metabolism.
Currently, most weight loss experts do not recommend many products marketed as weight loss supplements because of a lack of evidence. Also certain diet supplements, including ephedra, may cause heart attack and stroke. (Ephedra, also known as ma huang, was banned by the FDA in 2004 for sale in the U.S.)
However, there are some proven weight loss supplements available. Which weight loss supplements may be safe and helpful during a diet? Here’s a rundown on six products you can buy at most health food or drugstores that have some weight loss evidence behind them:
- Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
- Green tea extract
- Meal replacements
- Orlistat, an over-the-counter weight loss drug
Remember, of course, that you should always check with your doctor before taking any type of supplement. Even supplements can have side effects and may interfere with medications you take. And, when it comes to weight loss, there are no quick fixes. A healthy eating plan and regular physical exercise should be the foundation of any weight loss program.
Weight Loss Supplements: Calcium
Bone health may be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word calcium, but this mineral may also help you lose fat while preserving muscle.
Research is mixed. Some studies have not found a relationship between calcium intake and weight loss.
However, “there have been several studies that have shown benefits from three daily servings of low-fat dairy foods, including weight loss,” says Toby Smithson, RD, national spokesman for the American Dietetic Association. Those studies “showed more weight loss from low-fat dairy foods combined with a reduced-calorie diet than from calcium supplements,” Smithson notes.
That’s not to say calcium supplements might not help you in your weight loss efforts. In one analysis, researchers found that dieting women who received 1,000 mg of calcium supplements each day lost, on average, more weight and more body fat than women taking a placebo. Although the differences in the amount of weight and fat lost by the two groups were not significant, the trend suggests there could be a relationship between calcium supplements and weight loss.
Because calcium and weight loss studies have found conflicting results, you can expect a lot more research on this subject. Researchers who have found a connection between calcium and weight loss hypothesize that dietary calcium might play a role in the breakdown and storage of fat. Additionally, the weight loss that has sometimes been observed in people who eat dairy may have something to do with specific dairy proteins and magnesium, another important mineral abundant in dairy products. But so far, these hypotheses are unproven.
Weight Loss Supplements: Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
Using a type of fat as a weight loss supplement might sound counterintuitive. But it might work, too. Conjugated linoleic acid, a fatty acid that occurs naturally in small amounts in dairy products and red meat, is a diet supplement that may work, but can also have some concerning side effects.
Some studies have found that CLA diet supplements can help you lose body fat and increase lean body mass. When a group of overweight people took 3.2 grams of CLA each day for six months, they lost more body fat than people taking a placebo and gained less holiday weight during the winter months.
Many experts are calling for more clinical studies to learn more about the effectiveness and safety of CLA as a weight loss supplement. What’s the best way for people to reap the benefits of this diet supplement? Can you take too much? Is it safe?
Research on CLA has shown some concerning side effects, mostly because it is a special type of fat similar to trans fats. For example, blood tests that follow inflammation can be higher in some people taking CLA, and it may adversely affect cholesterol levels and liver tests. Be sure to talk with your doctor before taking CLA as a diet supplement.
Weight Loss Supplements: Fiber
When it comes to dropping pounds, weight loss supplements that help keep you full can make it easier to cut back on the amount of food you eat. And when it comes to feeling full, fiber is your friend.
“Things that delay gastric emptying and stay in the stomach longer theoretically will make you feel fuller for a longer period of time,” says Sasha Stiles, MD, an obesity expert at Tufts Medical Center. “There’s enough fairly good research to show that an appropriate amount of fiber, such as bran or psyllium, can do this. Don’t take too much, though, because it can stop you up.”
A recent study found that overweight and obese people who took a fiber diet supplement each day reported less hunger after meals than people taking a placebo, and there was a trend for those using a fiber supplement to lose more weight.
If you decide to increase your fiber intake from food or diet supplements, be sure to add fiber to your diet slowly. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming constipated.
The National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine recommends that men under age 50 consume 38 grams of fiber a day, and 30 grams a day after age 50. Women under age 50 should consume 25 grams of fiber per day, and 21 grams per day after age 50. Most people only get about half of this amount.
Weight Loss Supplements: Green Tea Extract
You may have already heard that green tea is loaded with healthy antioxidants, but did you know it might help you lose weight, too?
Although Smithson cautions that there are not enough human studies to prove the effectiveness of green tea extract as a weight loss supplement, she tells WebMD “…there is some thought that regular consumption may promote weight loss by adjusting resting energy usage and increasing the use of energy. The components in green tea extract that have shown some effect on lowering body weight are catechins, caffeine and theanine.” Decaffeinated green tea probably won’t work as well as regular green tea.
Not all studies agree. But one recent report found that daily green tea extract supplements helped obese men and women lose weight and lower their body mass index (BMI — an indicator of body fat). It might also help people keep off weight once they’ve lost it. Green tea extract also helped reduce amounts of dangerous belly fat, which has been linked to an increased risk of death. Not only that, green tea extract lowered blood pressure and LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol at the same time.
Weight Loss Supplements: Meal Replacements
Experts agree: The most proven weight loss supplements are meal replacements, including bars and shakes.
But, they only work when used as directed. In many plans, this means substituting a calorie-controlled meal replacement for breakfast and lunch, perhaps with the addition of fresh fruit. Then enjoy a portion-controlled dinner of around 500 calories.
“There’s very good scientific literature around meal replacements that is encouraging — this is a strategy for some people that is efficient and safe,” says Steven R. Smith, MD, professor and assistant to the executive director for clinical research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
“For folks who adopt that strategy, there’s pretty good long-term success,” says Smith. “The reason for that is that it’s simple, it’s structured and it allows people to continue to enjoy food with their evening meal.”
Weight Loss Supplements: Over-the-Counter Orlistat
Technically, Orlistat is a medicine, not a supplement. However, it’s approved by the FDA for sale without a prescription, thus many people consider it a diet supplement.
“This is the one that has the data behind it,” says Caroline Apovian, MD, the director of the Center for Nutrition and Weight Management at Boston Medical Center. “It blocks 25% of the fat calories eaten from being absorbed…”
Orlistat helps people lose weight as long as they also follow a diet and exercise. But it can have some unpleasant intestinal side effects. Be sure to follow the product’s recommendations to limit fat intake to minimize potentially embarrassing problems with anal leakage and gas.