Healthful Strategies for Weight Loss
Are the following three statements myth or fact?
Fad diets work for permanent weight loss.
Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.
Low-fat or no-fat means no calories.
All of the above are dieting myths.
Long-term success at weight loss requires a balance between diet and physical activity. Losing one-half to two pounds per week by eating better and exercising more is the best way to lose weight and keep it off.
Before you begin a weight-loss program, consult your health care provider. He or she may give you an exercise stress test to see how your heart responds to increased physical activity. You also may want to consult a registered dietitian about a menu based on your weight-loss goals and food preferences.
Learn about food labels
A sensible goal for weight loss is to lose a pound a week. To do this you need to eat 500 fewer calories or burn 500 more calories per day than you normally do. One step to cutting back on calories is to pay attention to food labels when selecting foods at the supermarket. Choosing foods that are low in calories and/or low in fat can help you meet your daily calorie goal.
Some food labels can be confusing. Just because a product says it's low-fat or low-carb doesn't mean that it's low in calories or is healthy. Food labeling is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is required for most prepared foods, including breads, cereals, canned and frozen foods, snacks, desserts and drinks.
Here are some common food label terms:
Fat-free -- less than 0.5 gram of fat per serving
Low-fat -- fewer than 3 grams of fat per serving
Reduced or less fat -- at least 25 percent less fat than the full-fat version
Lite products -- a product with fewer calories than the regular version; the sodium content is 50 percent less than the regular version; or the food is clearer in color
Calorie-free -- fewer than 5 calories per serving
Low-calorie -- fewer than 40 calories per serving
Reduced or fewer calories -- at least 25 percent fewer calories per serving than the regular version
The food labels also list the number of calories per serving, and the amount of calories that come from fat, carbohydrate or protein. It's important to note the serving size on the label when determining the number of calories you're eating.
Start to exercise
Exercise is the other key component in losing weight. Physical activity can help to control weight loss by burning up excess calories that would otherwise be stored as fat.
A person's weight is regulated by the number of calories consumed and used. Therefore, weight gain occurs when more calories are consumed than used, and weight loss occurs when more calories are burned than are stored.
Playing in the yard actively with children, mowing the lawn with a push mower and raking leaves are moderate-intensity activities. On their own, they don't burn many calories, but when a combination of such activities lasts at least 60 minutes a day, they can make a difference.
More strenuous activities burn more calories than moderate ones. A brisk walk, swimming or riding a bicycle are all good weight-loss activities.
For you to gain maximum health benefits from physical activity, your exercise program should include:
Aerobic activity for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week
Strengthening activities, such as weight training
Flexibility exercises, such as stretching
Losing weight doesn't, and shouldn't, mean starvation. Losing weight in a healthy way consists of eating better and being more physically active. And it should be tolerable, and perhaps even fun.