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Losing Weight

Atlanta Med Center Family

Despite the increasing number of people who are aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, the number of obese Americans is growing. Being overweight increases the risk of developing non-insulin-dependent diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, some cancers and other health problems. 

Obesity is defined as an excessively high amount of body fat or adipose tissue in relation to lean body mass. Just as there are no simple explanations for how weight problems start, there are no simple solutions. Weight loss requires a combination of fewer calories taken in, more calories used up, and behavior changes.

Dangers of Fad Diets

If there were a simple way to take off extra pounds, no one would have a weight problem. And although most people know that fad diets aren't the answer, the short-term reward of rapid weight loss is hard to resist. These quick weight-loss plans cost American consumers billions of dollars annually.

However, very low-calorie diets or diets that restrict certain foods can be dangerous and should never be used without medical supervision. In fact, there is growing concern that long-term use of very low-calorie diets may actually make lasting success more difficult to maintain. Instead of enduring a "diet" you can hardly wait to go off, focus on developing better eating and exercise habits.

Your Calorie Needs

Remember that eating and exercise aren't the only factors that affect your weight, but they are the ones you can control. Your basal metabolic rate (the energy your body needs to carry on its functions at rest) and body composition (the amount of fat versus muscle you have) help determine the number of calories your body burns at rest, and these tendencies are often inherited.

The number of calories you need depends on how many calories your body burns. People burn calories at different rates, depending on many factors, including activity, body size, genetics, age, health and gender. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism.
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Losing Weight at a Healthy Rate

To lose weight, and possibly decrease abdominal fat, you need a combination of a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity. The goal should be to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. To lose 1 pound per week, you need 500 fewer calories per day than the calories required to maintain your weight. It's best to cut back on the calories you usually eat and increase your activity level. Try eating 250 fewer calories per day and adding 250 calories in activity to lose that pound of fat.

Reducing fat in your diet is a practical way to reduce calories; however, reducing dietary fat alone without reducing calories is not sufficient for weight loss. Reducing both dietary fat, along with dietary carbohydrates, can help reduce total calories.

Moderate levels of physical activity for 30 to 45 minutes, 3 to 5 days a week, is recommended as an initial goal. All adults should set a long-term goal to accumulate at least 30 to 60 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, and preferably all, days of the week.

Your current eating and exercise habits took years to develop. That's why it's important to remember that you can't change the habits of a lifetime overnight. Don't get upset when you slip. Fortunately, you don't need to make dramatic changes in your habits for them to work.