10 Tips to Lose Weight

As many as 66 percent of American adults are overweight or obese, according to the National Institute of Health. Being overweight increases your risk of developing heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, some cancers, gallbladder disease, stroke and high blood pressure. Losing weight is not easy; it requires a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes, exercise, and the treatment of contributing health conditions. Permanent weight loss takes time, effort, emotional support and a lifelong commitment.

1: Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic weight loss goals increases your chance of success, according to the Mayo Clinic. A healthy weight loss program involves losing 1 to 2 pounds per week while eating healthy and exercising regularly. To lose weight, you must burn at least 500 to 1,000 more calories per day than you consume. It is ineffective and unhealthy to lose more than a few pounds per week, and doing so may result in rebound weight gain, energy loss, and health complications.

2: Eat a Balanced Diet

Eat a balanced diet to ensure weight loss and overall health. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends including 2 cups of fruit, a combination of dark green and orange vegetables, beans and peas, 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk, at least 3 ounces of whole grains, and a variety of lean meats, fish and poultry in your daily diet. Less than 10 percent of your total calories should come from saturated fats, and you should take in less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day.

3: Drink More Water

Drinking water throughout the day and before meals reduces your intake of sugary, high-calorie beverages, curbs the urge to snack, and can make you feel full more quickly at mealtime. A study published in the July 2008 issue of the “Journal of the American Dietetic Association” showed that drinking a glass of water before meals significantly reduces caloric intake and can assist with weight loss.

4: Watch Your Portion Sizes

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases warns that “serving” sizes and “portion” sizes do not always match, and in some cases what you eat is two or three times the serving size listed on food packaging. To avoid consuming more calories and fat than you think, carefully read packages, avoid eating in front of the television, eat slowly and at scheduled mealtimes, and stop eating when you no longer feel hungry.

5: Choose Snacks Wisely

If you need to have snack between meals, choose low-fat, low-calorie foods instead of sugary cookies and cakes. The Mayo Clinic recommends limiting yourself to 100 calories per snack and making healthy choices, such as 1 cup of sliced banana, 3 1/2 cups of air-popped popcorn, 1 fat-free pudding cup, or 2 cups of carrots.

6: Walk More, Sit Less

Boost your metabolism by increasing your overall activity level. Take your dog for a long walk instead of letting him free in the yard, use stairs instead of elevators, walk to get lunch instead of having it delivered, and park as far from the store or bank as possible when running errands.

7: Establish an Exercise Routine

A structured, regular exercise routine lowers the risk of some cancers, increases bone density, and improves sleep, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Aim for 2.5 hours of aerobic, moderate-intensity exercise on most days, plus a routine of muscle-strengthening exercises two or more times per week.

8: Sleep More

Most Americans get too little sleep, and increasing evidence points to a strong association between sleep deprivation and obesity. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine states that people who sleep less have higher BMIs, possibly due to lower levels of a hormone, leptin, which is involved in appetite suppression and metabolism. Sleep loss may also increase levels of another hormone, ghrelin. Ghrelin stimulates the appetite, causing you to eat more food, more often. To help control weight, try for at least seven hours of sleep each night.

9: Recognize and Avoid Fad Diets

While fad diets are tempting, they are ineffective and often dangerous. Avoid diets that claim immediate or rapid weight loss, require eating very few calories or restrict certain food groups, or that allow no fat. The Nemours Foundation states that some fat — up to 30 percent of total calories — is necessary for health. The Mayo Clinic recommends against using over-the-counter diet supplements, as these are ineffective and potentially dangerous.

10: Seek Medical Help

A number of underlying health conditions interfere with the effectiveness of weight loss programs. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute states that hormonal disorders, such as hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome and Cushing’s syndrome, and the use of corticosteroids, antidepressants, and other medication can cause or contribute to weight problems. Treating these underlying conditions or changing medications can assist with weight loss.

About this Author

Sandra Ketcham is a freelance writer and editor with more than 15 years experience writing for both print and online publications. She specializes in health and wellness, business and travel articles and currently serves as an editor for various ezines and company newsletters. Ketcham is currently pursuing a degree in psychology.