Do not use the OPTAVIA Program if you are pregnant. If you have a serious acute or chronic illness (e.g., heart attack, diabetes, cancer, liver disease, kidney disease, anorexia, bulimia, etc.) do not use the OPTAVIA Program until your healthcare provider says you have recovered or that your condition is stabilized. The Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan™ is NOT appropriate for teens (13 to 18 years of age), sedentary older adults (65 years and older), nursing mothers, people with gout, some people with diabetes, and those who exercise more than 45 minutes per day. For special medical or dietary needs, refer to our program guides online.

Reading ingredients and preparing food at home might seem exhausting, and it isn't easy at first to adjust. Many have lost temporarily on fad diets, and it may be tempting to buy diet food instead of preparing your own. However, fad diets are focused on quick weight loss, not long-term solutions and health management, so many people gain back everything they lost (and more!) when the diet is over. You also may be causing holes in your nutrition by cutting out certain foods completely without ensuring that you replace the vitamins elsewhere. Getting healthy and staying slim is a lifestyle change, and fad diets just don't cut it.

Grazing is a surprisingly good idea because it helps you avoid metabolic slowdown. "Your body will be tricked into thinking it's constantly eating, so it will never slow your metabolism down," explains Bauer. Aim for five small meals (200 to 500 calories) a day rather than three large ones. Also try not to go more than four hours without eating — if you eat breakfast at 7am, for example, have a snack at 10am, lunch at noon, another snack at 3pm and dinner at 7pm.
Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Get these seven tips for the best sleep ever! Why? Ever notice how you start to crave donuts and drive-thru breakfasts when you’re exhausted? When you don’t get enough sleep, your hormones are thrown out of balance. Running on no sleep can actually drive up the hormones that make you want to eat, while pushing down the hormones that signal for fullness—and that’s a recipe for weight gain. When you’re well-rested, it’s much easier to make healthy decisions and stay on track.
Fat contains 9 calories per gram, which is more than twice the calories of protein and carbohydrates (4 calories per gram each). Limiting one’s fat intake will not only lower overall dietary fat and calories, but also reduce a critical risk factor for cardiovascular disease. A healthy goal for fat intake includes obtaining 20-35% or less of total calories from dietary fat (specifically receiving less than 10% of calories from saturated fat, and eliminate trans-fat completely). For more information on dietary fat, Dietary Fat and Cholesterol.
It is important to remember that proper diet and exercise is largely accepted as the best way to lose weight. It is inadvisable to lower calorie intake by more than 1,000 calories per day, as losing more than 2 pounds per week can be unhealthy, and can result in the opposite effect in the near future by reducing metabolism. Losing more than 2 pounds a week will likely involve muscle loss, which in turn lowers BMR since more muscle mass results in higher BMR. Excessive weight loss can also be due to dehydration, which is unhealthy. Furthermore, particularly when exercising in conjunction with dieting, maintaining a good diet is important, since the body needs to be able to support its metabolic processes and replenish itself. Depriving the body of nutrients it requires as part of heavily unhealthy diets can have serious detrimental effects, and weight lost in this manner has been shown in some studies to be unsustainable, since the weight is often regained in the form of fat (putting the participant in a worse state than when beginning the diet). As such, in addition to monitoring calorie intake, it is important to maintain levels of fiber intake as well other nutritional necessities to balance the needs of the body.
It's a one-time investment you'll never regret. Here's why: Strength training builds lean muscle tissue, which burns more calories — at work or at rest — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The more lean muscle you have, the faster you'll slim down. How do you start strength training? Try some push-ups or a few squats or lunges. Use your free weights to perform simple bicep curls or tricep pulls right in your home or office. Do these exercises three to four times per week, and you'll soon see a rapid improvement in your physique.
Measure it: If you want to improve something, measure it. While a pedometer can seem utterly arbitrary, wearing one and holding yourself to a daily goal can lead to forming powerful habits. Fitbit devices also allow you to create an online account where you can track yourself against friends and co-workers, so you can push each other to exercise. The nice thing about measuring exercise rather than weight is one can become a habit that leads to the desired goal, whereas the other is a lagging and fluctuating indicator. Each day you do your daily exercise you will be aware of what you did and how it made you feel. And those who exercise may have slightly elevated serotonin levels which lead to improved satiety, diminishing hunger.
Ultimately, weight loss for the long-term requires some short-term behavior change and healthier habit formation. That's why we created our Good Housekeeping Nutritionist Approved Emblem, which exists to help turn smart food choices into healthier eating habits. All GHNA foods and drinks make it easier to find — and eat — good-for-you foods without additional time, effort, and cost. We target the lifestyle-related factors that make healthier eating hard, and find simple but creative solutions that actually work! Look for the emblem on labels wherever you shop for food!
Simply putting your focus on eating fewer calories than you burn is a losing strategy, because this oversimplified numerical approach treats all calories as equal — which they are not, says David Ludwig, MD, PhD, a Harvard Medical School professor and internationally respected obesity researcher. It’s not so much the quantity of calories we eat that drives weight gain and loss, he asserts, but rather the nature and quality of those calories.
You already know that a perfect diet doesn't exist, but many of us still can't resist the urge to kick ourselves when we indulge, eat too much, or get thrown off course from restrictive diets. The problem: This only makes it more difficult, stressful, and downright impossible to lose weight. So rather than beating yourself up for eating foods you think you shouldn't, let it go. Treating yourself to about 200 calories worth of deliciousness each day — something that feels indulgent to you — can help you stay on track for the long-haul, so allow yourself to eat, breathe, and indulge. Food should be joyful, not agonizing!
The least intrusive weight loss methods, and those most often recommended, are adjustments to eating patterns and increased physical activity, generally in the form of exercise. The World Health Organization recommended that people combine a reduction of processed foods high in saturated fats, sugar and salt[11] and caloric content of the diet with an increase in physical activity.[12]

Compare your portion sizes throughout the day to the recommended standards. For example, one serving of fruit is 1/2 cup or one small whole fruit, one serving of vegetables is one cup, one serving of grains is 1 oz or 1/2 of a cup, one serving of lean protein is 3 oz and one serving of low-fat dairy is one cup (milk and yogurt) or 2 oz of cheese.[5]


Most nutrition experts suggest getting between 20 and 35 percent of your daily calories from fat, and many now advocate for more. Be vigilant about including fat in the form of nutritious whole foods (think avocados, nuts, fish), healthy oils (cold-pressed olive, seed, nut), and some appetite-satisfying saturated-fat indulgences (real butter and cream, grassfed meats, coconut).
Realizing that eating unhealthy food is a bad habit, like smoking or biting your nails, will help you break the cycle. Going cold turkey on favorite snack foods isn't possible for everyone, and if you relapse and chow down on some chocolate, the first step is to forgive yourself for the lapse. Identify the times of day or the activities you engage in that tempt you to reach for the junk food. Being aware that it's going to happen will help you stave off the cravings and gives you the chance to substitute in a healthier option. Don't be afraid to let your friends and family know what you're doing so they can support and cheer you on, and so they can help you avoid cravings.

Another frontrunner on the U.S. News and World Report 2016 list (it came in at number two in the weight loss category), the HMR Weight Management program is used in over 200 medical facilities around the U.S. Dieters embark on two phases, the first centered around HMR's products (meals, shakes, snacks) and the second transitioning towards a sustainable plan emphasizing fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

You can lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol with healthier food and medications. But it’s harder to raise levels of the “good” kind of cholesterol, HDL. That’s the type that clears bad LDL from your blood, so the more you have, the better. Exercise and losing body fat can get you into the ideal HDL range: above 60 mg/dl, which lowers your odds of having heart disease.
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