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The simple formula for losing weight

December 28, 2010|Lynn Little

Television, magazines and the Internet will be ushering in the New Year with tricks, tips and gimmicks to lose weight. But the only sure thing about these claims is that they don't work.  

Wild claims sell products but usually don't lead to safe or long-term weight loss. You don't lose weight by avoiding certain foods, pairing certain foods, using "cleansing systems" or sprinkling foods with a "magic" powder.

The secret to losing weight is simple: Eat fewer calories than you burn. Or, burn more calories than you eat.

The body uses calories as its energy source. The amount of calories you need depends on multiple factors including height, weight, activity and health conditions (www.mypyramid.gov). To lose weight you need to reduce calories taken in by decreasing portion sizes of foods or increase calories burned off by increasing physical activity.  

It takes 3,500 calories to gain or lose a pound. This means to lose 1 pound per week you would have to create a 500-calorie daily deficit through diet and physical activity. This may involve changing your afternoon snack from regular soda and a candy bar (525 calories) to diet soda and a low-fat granola bar (90 calories) and walking for 30 minutes (burning 220 calories). Making these changes would reduce your total daily calories by 655, which exceeds the recommended 500-calorie reduction.

Weight loss can be important for health, but it's not necessary to lose large amounts to see health benefits. A moderate weight loss of 5 to 10 percent in someone who is overweight or obese has been shown to improve blood sugar levels and blood pressure.  

Some tips for successful weight loss include staying hydrated, being active and not skipping meals. Set small goals. Instead of saying, "I want to lose 50 pounds," rephrase it as, I want to lose 4 pounds during the first month." By making small goals, you increase your chances for success. Meeting the small goal then can serve as motivation for continuing toward the larger goal.

Work on changing one behavior at a time. This will help you get accustomed to the changes, rather than becoming frustrated. Remember, you did not put on your weight overnight, so it isn't realistic to think you will take it off overnight.

Check out Live Healthy America www.livehealthy america.org/default.aspx. By participating in Live Healthy America, you will begin to form healthy habits through physical activity and improved nutrition.

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