Reduce calories in and increase calories out.
Losing weight means changing the balance of calories in to calories out. If we eat more calories than we need, we can gain weight. If we eat fewer calories than we use, we can lose weight.
So start with good information: you need to know how many calories you should eat each day for your individual level of activity, and then you'll need to find ways to stay within your limits. Find out your personal daily calorie intake and fat needs. To lose weight, you must use up more calories than you take in. One pound is approximately 3,500 calories. To successfully and healthfully lose weight—and keep it off—most people need to subtract about 500 calories per day from their diet to lose about 1 pound per week.
- Visit our Simple Cooking and Recipes, and learn to use nutritious ingredients and follow a healthy preparation routine.
- Use our Healthy Diet Goal guidelines to make smart choices to benefit your heart and your overall health.
- Get tips on staying heart-smart and making healthy choices at the store.
- Learn to eat healthy when you dine out.
- Learning how to read and understand food labels can help you make healthier choices.
Increase calories burned
Regular physical activity has so many proven benefits, such as to help control weight and blood pressure and decrease the risk for heart diseases and stroke. All healthy adults (ages 18 to 64) should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., brisk walking) every week or 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., jogging, running) every week. Additionally, you need on 2 or more days a week muscle-strengthening activities. Besides helping you lose weight, physical activity also improves the quality of life.
The amount of physical activity any individual person needs for weight loss can vary, but you will need to get both regular physical activity and follow a healthy eating plan to lose weight and keep it off. A good plan may include 30 to 60 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity, like brisk walking, done nearly every day. Find something you can do and find ways to enjoy it. Take a brisk walk or a jog with a friend or your dog. Enjoy a video that gets you moving.
Source: Adapted from ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, Ninth Edition, and Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Herrmann SD, Meckes N, Bassett Jr DR, Tudor-Locke C, Greer JL, Vezina J, Whitt- Glover MC, Leon AS. 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities: a second update of codes and MET values. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2011;43 (8):1575-1581.
You might even keep a food diary at first to help you learn how much you are eating and whether you're eating out of habit instead of real hunger. When you are aware of your roadblocks you can plan alternative choices.
Remember to focus on your goal: feeling your best and living a healthy life. In the long run, you'll be so glad you invested in your health.
Last reviewed on 08/2014.