To lose weight, the most important factor to consider is your nutrition.  Within this arena of nutrition, you have two main aspects that affect weight loss, how you eat and what you eat.  To begin any weight loss program you must take a close look at each of these to assess where you are to then determine how you need to adjust.


How you eat is by far the most effective influence on how much weight you can lose.  The recommendation we all grew up with to eat 3 square meals a day is just altogether wrong and unhelpful for losing weight.  Instead of 3 meals through out the day, look at having 5 or 6.  Of course realize that these “meals” can also just be snacks, and are in no way a full size meal like you would eat at a buffet.  Eating only a few meals a day, will cause you to eat more at each meal, and more than likely eat more than your body needs at the time leaving an excess of calories to then get stored by your body as fat.  These additional meals should be spaced evenly throughout the day with about 3 hours in between and your final one should be no less than 3 hours before you go to sleep.  Here you are essentially spreading out the same amount of food you would normally eat in a day.  For example, if you normally eat 3 meals a day and begin to eat 6, you are eating twice the number of meals half as big and this will have a huge beneficial impact.


In addition to how you eat, what you are eating is another major influence on losing weight.  If you are consuming a lot of high fat, processed foods consider healthier options.  Lean meats, complex carbohydrates, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables are a good start.  The United States Department of Agriculture has some great tips here about some healthy options of the different food groups and recommended portions from the food pyramid.  While considering healthy food options to add to your diet, look also at your daily caloric intake.  You can determine your daily recommended caloric intake to maintain your current weight based on your age, height, gender and activity level on the Mayo Clinic website.  With the knowledge of the calories it takes for you to daily maintain your body weight you can begin to trim off calories in order to lose weight.  Losing 1 pound of body weight per week is the healthy maximum you should shoot for.  Since 3,500 calories is equivalent to 1 pound of body weight, to lose 1 pound of body weight weekly, you would cut 500 calories off of your daily recommended caloric intake (not necessarily your current daily intake).  Consuming plenty of water will also help you to shed pounds and offer many benefits to your body.


If your goal is to lose weight, you can do so safely by simply modifying and being consistent with your dietary habits.  While exercise is important, and if possible should be part of a weight loss program it is not an absolute necessity.





Healthy Eating & Diet, How Many Calories Do You Really Need?

Reviewed by: Brunilda Nazario, MD; Web MD