Healthy Eating and Weight Loss

If you’re overweight or obese, losing weight can have a major positive impact on your current health and reduce your risk of obesity-related medical conditions. A weight loss of as little as 5 percent may be effective.

The basic formula for weight loss and weight maintenance is to eat a healthy, balanced diet and to stay physically active. Weight gain results when more calories are eaten than the body uses. So the simple formula for weight loss is reducing calories and increasing physical activity. Of course, this may be easier said than done; if you’re overweight or obese and trying to lose weight, you may benefit from the help of your healthcare team, experts such as dieticians and fitness trainers, and support groups.

Guidelines for a healthy diet include:

  • Limiting fat intake
  • Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats
  • Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables (at least five servings per day, according to many health experts)
  • Eating more legumes, whole grains, and nuts
  • Limiting sugar intake

Exercise

Physical activity can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight once you’ve reached it. As well, an active lifestyle can improve your overall well-being and reduce your risk of serious health complications like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. For overall health, weight-loss, and weight maintenance, the widely recommended amount of exercise is 30 minutes per day of moderate-intensity activity on most days of the week.

It’s important to speak with your doctor before starting or changing an exercise program. He or she will help you determine which types of exercise are safe for you. Tips for getting and staying active include setting realistic goals, seeking support from a family member or friend, and keeping track of your progress (such as in a journal).

Choose activities that you enjoy, and you’ll be more likely to do them. Examples include walking, dancing, weight-training, gardening, bicycling, and yoga. As well, consider ways that you can add activity to your daily life, such as parking your car farther from your destination so you have to walk more or standing or walking when you’re talking on the phone.

Resources

The Weight-control Information Network

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Sources

The Weight-control Information Network Web site. Available at www.win.niddk.nih.gov. Accessed June, 2010.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. Available at
www.cdc.gov. Accessed June, 2010.
The World Health Organization Web site. Available at www.who.int. Accessed June, 2010.