Safe Weight Loss

The word "diet" probably brings to mind meals of lettuce and cottage cheese or constant hunger. By definition, "diet" refers to what a person eats or drinks during the course of a day. A diet that limits portions to a very small size or that excludes certain foods entirely to promote weight loss may not be effective over the long term. You are likely to miss certain foods, find it difficult to follow this type of diet for a long time, and more importantly the complete elimination of certain food groups may result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Instead, it is best to gradually change the types and amounts of food you eat.  Make healthier choices and maintain these changes for the rest of your life. The ideal diet is one that takes into account what you like and dislike plus includes a wide variety of foods with enough calories and nutrients for good health. The amount of calories you take in each day and what you eat play a major role in how much you weigh. So, when planning your diet, you should consider:

  • What calorie level is appropriate?

  • Is the diet you are considering nutritionally balanced?

  • Will the diet be practical and easy to follow?

  • Will you be able to maintain this eating plan for the rest of your life?

The following information will help you answer these questions.

Calorie Level

Most weight-loss diets provide 1,000 to 1,500 calories per day. However, the number of calories that is right for you depends on your weight and activity level. At these calorie levels, diets are referred to as low-calorie diets. Self-help diet books and clinical and non-clinical weight-loss programs often include low-calorie diet plans.

The calorie level of your diet should allow for a weight loss of no more than 1 pound per week (after the first week or two when weight loss may be more rapid because of initial water loss). If you can estimate how many calories you eat in a day, you can design a diet plan that will help you lose no more than 1 pound per week. You may need to work with a trained health professional, such as a registered dietitian. Or, you can use a standardized low-calorie diet plan with a fixed caloric level.

 Good Nutrition                           

Make sure that your diet contains all the essential nutrients for good health. However, when lowering calories you may find it difficult to get all the vitamins and minerals that your body needs.  A healthful diet should include:

Vitamins and Minerals  Eating a wide variety of foods from all the food groups on the Food Guide Pyramid will help you get the vitamins and minerals you need. If you eat less than 1,200 calories per day, you may benefit from taking a daily vitamin and mineral supplement.

Protein  The average woman 25 years of age and older should get 50 grams of protein each day, and the average man 25 years of age and older should get 63 grams of protein each day. Adequate protein is important because it prevents muscle tissue from breaking down and repairs all body tissues such as skin and teeth. To get adequate protein in your diet, make sure you eat 2-3 servings from the Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts Group on the Food Guide Pyramid every day. These foods are all good sources of protein.

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Disclaimer: The information provided by this service is intended to serve as a recommendation for people who desire to learn more about health, fitness, weight loss, and taking care of their bodies. Before beginning any diet program, always consult your doctor to make sure you are able to begin weight loss safely. Certain disabilities or conditions may restrict or prohibit some individuals from dieting, so be sure to clear yourself with your doctor.