Essential Guide to Losing Weight

MyFitnessPal
by MyFitnessPal
Share it:
Essential Guide to Losing Weight

Weight loss is one of the most popular topics at MyFitnessPal — and we’re here to help. For starters, you’ve got to believe in yourself and realize losing weight requires small changes you can stick to so they build up over time, eventually leading to a healthier lifestyle and a trimmer you.

HOW DOES WEIGHT LOSS HAPPEN?

Calories in minus calories out: That’s the simple, age-old equation for creating a calorie deficit to lose weight. Burn more calories than you consume and you’ll lose weight, right? If only it were that easy!

The key to creating a calorie deficit is to burn a little more (or eat a little less) than your body requires for weight maintenance. The calories burned through exercise + non-exercise activity + basal metabolic rate need to be more than the calories consumed through food to produce weight loss. In general, you’ll need to create a deficit of 250–500 calories per day to lose 1/2 to 1 pound per week.

Since your basal metabolic rate (the calories you burn at rest) accounts for 60–70% of the calories burned throughout the day, it’s important to calculate that as a starting point if you’re wanting to create a deficit. How much your body burns at rest depends on many variables such as genetics, age, hormones and muscle mass. See our Essential Guide to Your Metabolism for starters.

TWO WAYS TO LOSE WEIGHT

OK, so now you know about creating a calorie deficit; let’s talk about how to achieve it. There are two ways to lose weight: changing what you eat and changing how you move. Most people find a combination of the two leads to the most effective weight loss.

1. CHANGE WHAT YOU EAT AND DRINK

Reducing how much you eat and turning to more healthful foods are the prime directives for anyone looking to lose weight. To get started, check out our Essential Guide to Healthy Eating. That said, if you don’t just want to eat healthy, but want to lose weight, you’ll want to consider these five tips as well:

  • Track What You Eat: What you put into your body makes a difference in your health and your weight. That slice of banana bread at the bakery looks divine. But choosing it over a banana adds more than just extra calories — you’ll be piling on more unhealthy fats and added sugar. As you track your intake, you get the bigger picture of what your food contains: carbs, fats, proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals. To get the biggest nutritional bang for your calorie buck and create a bigger calorie deficit, consume the majority of your calories from unprocessed, whole foods. Learn more about how a calorie isn’t just a calorie. While it’s important to be as accurate as you can with food tracking when trying to create a calorie deficit, don’t lose your mind in the process. It gets easier with practice. Stick with it: Logging your food consistently (even if it’s not perfect) is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. Having trouble? Learn to count calories without making yourself crazy.
  • Skip Soda: Added sugars — sweeteners added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared — are little more than empty calories that can lead to weight gain and even obesity, which increases the risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Soda is one of the leading contributors of added sugars in the diet, along with cakes, pies, ice cream and even breakfast bars and cereal. Get tips for kicking your soda habit with this article on avoiding added sugar.
  • Drink Water: Hydration is important for everyone, but it can also be a key component of your weight-loss efforts. In addition to keeping your body’s engine burning, water helps to stave off hunger: The more you drink, the less room you have for consuming calories. Not convinced? See 4 Ways Water Helps with Weight Loss and then learn about the science behind why water is good for weight loss.
  • Plan Your Meals: Planning healthy meals ahead of time is one of the easiest things you can do to set yourself up for successful weight loss. It not only curbs the last-minute pizza delivery and fast-food drive-thru but will also help you save time, calories and money. It might even inspire you to introduce new meals into your daily routine. Find out why it’s easier than you may think at with our Essential Guide to Meal Planning.
  • Practice Mindful Eating: Multitasking while eating — munching in front of the TV, snacking while writing emails or constant “sampling” while cooking — makes it challenging to be aware of what you’re putting in your body. Mindful eating is being aware of the taste, texture, smell and your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Knowing your cues and mastering the art of patience and mindfulness is the secret to losing weight for good and keeping it off. We’ve got 5 tips for practicing mindful eating.

2. BURN THOSE CALORIES (EXERCISE)

Reducing how many calories you eat is the best way to create a calorie deficit, but working it from the other way — burning more calories — works, too. Plus, regular exercise can boost metabolism, making creating a calorie deficit easier.

To start, try one (or more) of these 10 workouts for weight loss. If you try one and don’t love it, move on to the next until you find something that works best for you and your motivation. One thing that works for lots of people: Do it with a friend.

You may be surprised, but the simple act of walking can be enough to lose weight and get in shape. Walking can help you build fitness and lose weight by helping you create a calorie deficit. Even if you’re a regular exerciser, upping your daily step count through walking increases non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), which has been a big area of research because it may be an answer to how body weight is maintained, gained or lost.

8 SIMPLE WEIGHT-LOSS STRATEGIES

It’s easy enough to say eat less, move more, but often more difficult to do. We have a few ideas on how to make it easier:

1. REMOVE TEMPTATION

If you’re trying to set yourself up for success, keeping donuts and chips around isn’t doing you any favors. Give your pantry and fridge a little makeover to stay on track with your goals. See how to spring clean your pantry and then get back on track with these 5 Ways to Make Your Kitchen an Oasis of Healthy Eating.

2. STOP EATING AFTER DINNER

Late-night noshes are usually high-calorie, large portions or snacky foods (Read: cookies, ice cream, chips and candy) eaten mindlessly out of enjoyment to unwind from the stress of the day. It’s a recipe for weight gain and disaster. Learn what midnight snacking is doing to you.

3. LEARN HOW TO ORDER AT RESTAURANTS

Eating out can rack up the calories, so knowing how to make healthy menu swaps is key. Whether you’re dining at your favorite taqueria, steakhouse, Italian trattoria or ordering Chinese takeout, this guide gets you on the right track toward making the healthiest selection. Be smarter at restaurants — but still enjoy yourself.

4. MASTER CALORIE SWAPS

Whether it’s swapping hummus for mayo or zucchini noodles in lieu of traditional spaghetti, the calories you save really add up when you’re trying to create a calorie deficit. Here are 10 simple tricks that’ll help: Arm yourself with “hacks” to save calories.

5. CONSIDER NON-SCALE VICTORIES

Your weight is determined by a variety of factors, including hydration, climate, when you last ate, bathroom habits and exercise. In other words, weight fluctuation is common, and there’s much more to good health than a number on a scale. Here’s why you should stop weighing yourself every day and how to figure out a scale schedule that works for you.

6. GET ADEQUATE SLEEP

Sleep is undervalued. Getting enough quality sleep is holistically tied to your health and weight-loss goals. Sleep offers our bodies a chance at restoration and rejuvenation. When we’re sleep-deprived, we tend to eat more, exercise less and make poor food choices. Here are the hows and whys behind our need for sleep, along with five tips on how to get a better-quality dose of those cherished zzz’s.

IF YOU SLIP UP...

Get right back on track as soon as you can. We get it, we all fall off the wagon sometimes. It’s OK — what’s more important is understanding why you blew it and getting back on track. Try, fail and adjust … it’s a journey.


READ MORE ESSENTIAL GUIDES

> Portion Sizes
> Macros
> Getting Moving


About the Author

MyFitnessPal
MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal provides powerful tools that make it easier for anyone to live a healthier life by tracking their meals and physical activity. Make healthy choices and join Under Armour Connected Fitness™, the world’s largest digital fitness community: Visit the MyFitnessPal blog and download UA Record, MapMyRun, MyFitnessPal and Endomondo.

Related

9 responses to “Essential Guide to Losing Weight”

  1. Would love to read the “Essential Guide to Healthy Eating” and “Essential Guide to Your Metabolism” articles but they links do not work. 🙁

    • Jon Johnson says:

      I love your web page, since you are into health, can I send you a personal message about a product that may fit into your blog.

  2. Thanks for sharing this article. Its really difficult to lose weight in today’s hectic work schedule but these simple strategies will surely take us one step forward. Thanks a ton 🙂

  3. Emile Jarreau says:

    Hello,

    Great article recap on some key points to assist in weight loss. The biggest key is where we all are ready this blog…My Fitness Pal.

    Tracking food calories is fantastic…and so is the quality. Cut or reduce all man made foods too.

    Pix, measurements (before and afters) and body fat test with a BF% scale from Amazon will help you also analyze what works and in what specific area you need to make adjustments.

    Wish you all well:)

    Emile Jarreau, aka, Mr. Fat Loss

  4. Cyndi Lykins Foster says:

    I’m having a real issue and I need advice. I’m very careful about what I eat which is a low carb low calorie diet. This was working for me keeping my weight where I felt comfortable in my clothes. Then I started taking “the pill” to manage peri menopausal symptoms. I instantly gained weight while my diet remained the same. I went off the pill in fear that I would continue gaining. It’s been six weeks and the weight won’t come off. I’m starting to get depressed because I’m so uncomfortable. What should I do?

    • Jon Johnson says:

      Cyndi. I started taking a new product called Vslim. It has a clinical proven extract that reduces waist circumference and suppresses appreciate. I have lost 5 lbs in 5 days. I can send a link to learn more.

  5. Carol says:

    Hi I,m new to this forum so hello X I am on a range of very strong pain killers due to ill health and have now taken early retirement from a very hectic teaching job, a lot of my time is spent sitting…sitting…sitting…. I also sleep quite a lot throughout the day , I have gained two stone over the last 12 months and need to find a way to stop my behaviour, can anyone recommend a very low calorie treat I can snack on? it’s hard not to feel depressed and giving up little treats seems just another denial of the life I used to live.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Never Miss a Post!

Turn on MyFitnessPal desktop notifications and stay up to date on the latest health and fitness advice.

Great!

Click the 'Allow' Button Above

Awesome!

You're all set.