What you eat on a daily basis has a direct impact on your health as well as how much you weigh, whether you are able to lose weight and whether you can keep that weight off over time. Changing your diet, even in small ways, can make a big difference. Start by making gradual adjustments that you can keep up over time, and move on to forming a diet that is based on whole, natural foods.
Choosing healthy foods and leaving behind foods with little nutritional value can do more than just help with weight loss. According to MyPyramid, low-calorie items such as fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of being overweight and obese as well as risks of serious, chronic conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, kidney stones, stroke, bone loss and high cholesterol. They also provide essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients that may help reduce cravings for unhealthier foods that contain more calories, fat and sugar.
Fruits and vegetables of any type are some of the best foods to eat for weight loss because they are so low in calories and can fill you up quickly. However, it’s also important to include daily servings of whole grains, nonfat dairy and lean proteins to round out and balance a diet. The National Institutes of Health suggests brown rice, grits, oats and whole-grain products; low-fat cheese, nonfat yogurt or nonfat milk; and legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, fish, tofu and lean meats, all of which have nutritional benefits but few net calories.
Balancing nutrition is another important part of achieving weight loss. The Mayo Clinic recommends dividing daily calories between complex carbohydrates, unsaturated fat and lean protein and suggests getting about 55 percent, 25 percent and 20 percent of daily calories from each, respectively. More important may be avoiding processed foods, prepared items, restaurant meals and desserts that are rich in saturated fat, trans fat, added sugar, cholesterol and sodium, which can all encourage weight gain and add calories without satiating appetite.
Cutting calories from your daily diet by switching to whole, low-calorie foods is likely to result in gradual weight loss, but you may not see results for several weeks or more after making the changes. It takes 3,500 calories to lose a single pound, so cutting 500 calories per day from your normal diet will result in about 1 lb. of weight loss per week, which can be hard to notice at first. In addition to measuring numbers on the scale, be attentive to your daily energy levels and mood as well as your waist, thigh, bust, arm and other body measurements, all of which can indicate positive physical changes and weight loss progress.
Healthy, low-calorie eating and following a nutritious diet plan are key parts of successful weight loss, but they are not the only components. Most successful plans involve two parts: diet and exercise. Exercise burns calories to accelerate weight loss and instigates positive physical changes. The American Council on Exercise recommends strength training, aerobics and stretching for the best results. Before beginning any new diet, exercise or weight loss plan, talk with your doctor about the details.