When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s natural to want to shed pounds quickly. While fad diets and rapid weight loss plans can help you lose weight fast, you’re unlikely to keep it off for the long haul. Losing weight gradually is the healthiest and most effective way to get to and maintain a healthy weight. Making permanent lifestyle changes will help ensure you don’t gain back the weight you’ve lost.
How much weight can you safely lose in a month?
Losing weight isn’t easy. It takes commitment and perseverance. You’re more likely to lose weight successfully—and keep it off—if you have a goal of losing about one to two pounds per week. One pound of fat contains 3,500 calories. To lose one pound per week, you need to burn 500 more calories than you eat each day: 500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories.
If those numbers seem overwhelming, consider that losing just five to ten percent of your body weight can help lower your risk of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight can also improve your overall physical health, boost your energy, and improve your mood.
Weight loss tips that really work
1. Make a list of why you want to lose weight. Whether it’s an upcoming wedding, a beach vacation, better overall health, or improved self-esteem, a written list of your reasons for wanting to lose weight can help you stay motivated and make it through difficult times.
2. Eat breakfast. A nutritious breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It kick-starts your metabolism, replenishes your supply of glucose to boost your energy levels, and provides essential nutrients required for good health. Skipping breakfast is not an effective weight loss strategy. You may end up eating more at lunch because you’re so hungry.
3. Make healthy food choices. Eat your recommended servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Fruits and veggies are low in calories and fat, high in fiber, and rich sources of vitamins and minerals. Foods that contain fiber keep you feeling full, which can help you lose weight. Fiber is also found in wholegrain breads, brown rice, and beans and lentils. Choose lean meats and poultry, low-fat or fat-free milk, and healthy fats. Cut back on sweetened beverages (like soda or sweet tea) and packaged foods that are high in added sugars or saturated fat.
4. Move more, sit less. Physical activity is key to losing weight and keeping it off. The more you move, the more calories you’ll burn. Exercise can also boost your mood, strengthen your cardiovascular system, and reduce your blood pressure.
Walking is an easy way to exercise. A brisk walk for at least 30 minutes most days of the week is an effective way to lose weight. If you’re too busy to exercise for longer periods of time, find ways to sneak physical activity into your day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. When you go shopping, park far away from the entrance to the store. You can even exercise without getting up from your couch.
5. Drink water. Being thirsty makes some people feel hungry. Drinking a glass of water before you eat can help you consume fewer calories at each meal.
6. Use smaller plates. Bigger dishes distort how we think about serving sizes. Using smaller plates and bowls at home can help control your portions at mealtimes. Your plate will look full—especially if you fill it with healthy vegetables and fruits—but you’ll be eating less.
7. Chew your food. Eating too fast can cause you to overeat, so slow down and chew each bite carefully. Enjoy the textures and flavors of the meal. As you eat, it can take your brain up to 20 minutes to get the message from your stomach that you’re no longer hungry, so stop eating before you feel full.
8. Choose healthy snacks. Snacking can actually help you maintain a healthy weight—and even lose weight—as long as you pay attention to the types of foods you snack on and make smart choices. Healthy snacks that can help you lose weight combine protein, fiber, and a small amount of heart-healthy fat.
9. Go easy on the alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can be bad for your waistline. The calorie count of alcoholic beverages is higher than you may think, and beer, wine, and cocktails have little or no nutritional value.
10. Reward yourself. Enjoy treats occasionally, and remember that no one is perfect. Slipping up from time to time is no reason to give up on your entire weight loss plan. If you have a setback, take a day off and start fresh the next morning.
Changing your life won’t happen all at once. Investing in a healthy lifestyle is a long-term commitment. The results may not be obvious at first, but stick with it over time and you’ll achieve your weight loss goals.
Mayo Clinic, Why do doctors recommend a slow rate of weight loss? What’s wrong with fast weight loss?
CDC, Losing weight: Healthy weight, nutrition, and physical activity