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We know, you've probably heard these a thousand times. But if you can make these small swaps day-to-day, you'll spare enough calories for the treat foods you really want or to go into a calorie deficit (a.k.a. the key to weight loss). (And this is just the tip of the iceberg. We have 50 more easy ways to cut calories.) Making these simple swaps is the way to health-ify your eating style and lose weight without actually dieting.
As a general rule, most experts say that a total weekly calorie deficit of 3,500 calories will lead you to lose one pound of weight. If you cut more calories, you'll lose weight faster. But it is not safe or practical to cut too many calories. Very low-calorie diets (less than 800-1000 calories per day) can backfire and should only be followed with a doctor's supervision.
Next, you'll be asked about your goals. It's important to be realistic during this step. Your goal weight may be different than an ideal weight or a perfect weight. For example, you may want to weigh 120 pounds. But if you have struggled with your weight for most of your life and have never been lower than 150 pounds, then 120 may not be realistic at this time. Try to set a goal that you believe to be attainable. Once you reach your goal, you can always set a new one.
Giancoli also recommends finding a diet that fits in with how you really live. She notes that if you enjoy going out to eat but try to commit to a diet that forbids you from ever going to a restaurant, you’re just going to cheat. “It’s not sustainable… You’re most likely going to have a healthier meal if you’re going to cook yourself, but you’re depriving yourself of that social interaction if you never go out.” To put it another way: Your eating practices shouldn’t isolate you or keep you from having fun.
If you factored exercise into the equation when you used the calculator, then you should not eat more if you exercise. Your daily calorie goal (the calculator result) has already accounted for the additional physical activity. But if you did not factor in exercise when you used the calculator, and you added a workout session to your day, then the calories burned during exercise will increase your calorie deficit. If you don't eat back your exercise calories, the increased deficit will help you to lose weight faster. If you do eat back the same number of calories that you burned, then you will lose weight at the same rate as indicated in your calorie calculator result. Be careful, however, it's very easy to eat more calories than you burn after exercise. This causes weight gain, not weight loss.
Another healthy change that will help you look better is to cut back on salt. Sodium causes your body to hold onto excess water, so eating a high-salt diet means you’re likely storing more water weight than necessary. Check to see if you have any of the seven clear signs you’re eating too much salt. If you’re in a rush to lose weight fast, cut out added salt as much as possible. That means keep ditching the salt shaker and avoiding processed and packaged foods, where added salt is pretty much inevitable.
The value obtained from this equation is the estimated number of calories a person can consume in a day to maintain their body-weight assuming they remain at rest. This value is multiplied by an activity factor (generally 1.2-1.95) dependent on a person's typical levels of exercise in order to obtain a more realistic value for maintaining body-weight (since people are less likely to be at rest throughout the course of an entire day). 1 pound of body weight, or approximately 0.45 kg, equates to about 3,500 calories. As such, in order to lose 1 pound per week, it is recommended that 500 calories be shaved off the estimate of calories necessary for weight maintenance per day. For example, if a person has an estimated allotment of 2,500 calories per day to maintain body-weight, consuming 2,000 calories per day for one week would theoretically result in 3,500 calories (or 1 pound) lost during the period.
You already know to get your dressing on the side because restaurants tend to drown salads with too much. But instead of pouring it on or even dipping the leaves in, do the “fork dip.” Stick the tongs of an empty fork into the dish of dressing before skewering any salad. You’ll be surprised by how much flavor you’ll get, but with way fewer calories. Next, check out these 30 tiny diet changes that can help you lose weight.
If your favorite foods fall into the list of forbidden fruit, you’re even more likely to fall off the wagon. Giancoli gives the example of diets that cut out coffee: “It’s ridiculous. There’s a lot of research that coffee is fine. Coffee’s been redeemed.” The Mayo Clinic goes even further, saying: “Caffeine may slightly boost weight loss or prevent weight gain.”
Write what you ate (including seasonings, garnishes, and sauces,) and how much of it you had. Record the time, the place, the company you kept, and how you were feeling at the time. You also might want to include if you were engaging in any activity, like working at your desk while you had lunch. This is a great way to see where your main concerns lie. You might be snacking too much in mid-afternoon, or running for fast food when on a time crunch at work. Though it might seem tempting to skip this step, especially if you think you can already identify your bad habits, try it out anyway. Putting down every detail will most likely illuminate areas ready for improvement you didn't know existed.
Some factors that influence the number of calories a person needs to remain healthy include age, weight, height, sex, levels of physical activity, and overall general health. For example, a physically active 25-year-old male that is 6 feet in height requires considerably higher calorie intake than a 5-foot-tall, sedentary 70-year-old woman. Though it differs depending on age and activity level, adult males generally require 2,000-3000 calories per day to maintain weight while adult females need around 1,600-2,400 according to the U.S Department of Health.
Be choosy about carbs. You can decide which ones you eat, and how much. Look for those that are low on the glycemic index (for instance, asparagus is lower on the glycemic index than a potato) or lower in carbs per serving than others. Whole grains are better choices than processed items, because processing removes key nutrients such as fiber, iron, and B vitamins. They may be added back, such as in “enriched” bread.
“When clients come to me, many of them have been through the diet wringer. They’ve tried every fad and gimmick and, of course, they’ve failed to maintain long-term success. The key to weight loss is to never feel like you’re on a diet, because diets don’t work. If you feel deprived, you will never make it past a few weeks. The only way to achieve long-term weight loss is to learn to appreciate food as fuel and slowly replaced processed food that cannot properly energize the body with real food that can. After a while this will become second nature and won’t feel like a daily struggle.” — Laura Burak, MS, RD, CDN
Real talk: It could take weeks or months to see the metabolic effects of exercise on the scale, and even then, building muscle, which is denser than body fat, could lead to weight gain. “Do what you like because it’s good for you,” Dr. Seltzer says, noting the way exercise is awesome for your heart, mental health, and more—and that not all measure of progress can be seen on the scale.