Losing Weight Is More Than Counting Calories

Janis Hunter,
Home & Garden Information Center

Americans are getting fatter and don’t get enough physical activity, which can lead to premature death. Approximately two-thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese. This increases their risk of developing weight-related health problems (e.g. heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, breathing and joint problems) and certain types of cancer (e.g. breast, colon, endometrial, prostate and kidney).

Losing a small amount of weight, just 5 to 10 percent of current weight, improves overall health. It helps to lower the risk of developing weight-related health problems and can send obesity-associated complications into remission, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.

The best and safest way to shed pounds and improve your health is to eat a balanced diet, cut calories modestly, and be physically active every day. Follow these basic tips for successful weight loss.

  • Know how many calories you need to consume to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Plan your meals so you won’t resort to eating unhealthy fast foods.
  • Eat recommended amounts of vegetables, fruits, lean protein and whole grains. Follow the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to choose a healthful assortment of foods (e.g. vegetables, fruits, grains, fat-free milk, fish, lean meat, poultry and beans).
  • To feel full with fewer calories, choose foods naturally high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes (e.g. beans and lentils) and whole grains.
  • Drink plenty of water and fat-free milk, but stay away from high-calorie, sugary beverages.
  • Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast.
  • Get plenty of physical activity every day. Adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days, and children should get a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate physical activity on most, and preferably all, days of the week.

Refer to HGIC 4094, Losing Weight Is More Than Counting Calories for more weight loss tips, including ways to set a realistic goal, lose weight gradually, consume fewer calories, get moving and boost metabolism.

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