How should I lose weight if I am moderately overweight?

Whether you are looking to lose a moderate or a large amount of weight the process is the same.  The primary objective for any good weight loss program is to lose the weight and keep it of.  The key to weight loss and long term weight control is a change in life style.  There are 3 ingredients to this change: diet, exercise and setting realistic goals.  Let’s say your goal is to lose 30 lbs.   A realistic short term goal would be a ½ - 2lb per week weight loss.  I would go with the middle ground and chose a weekly goal of 1lb.  At 1lb a week it would take 30 weeks to reach your goal.  During any weight loss program there are going to be times when we slip on our program or hit plateaus so let’s add 5 weeks for a long term goal of 35 weeks.  Although this seems like a long time by taking a steady and slow approach you have time to adjust to a new and healthier life style.  This will greatly enhance your chance of success.

Neal Spruce
Neal Spruce on behalf of dotFIT

The same way everyone does: eat fewer calories than you burn until you reach your goal.

Use the free Sharecare Fitness App under your “Coach” tab to find out how many calories you burn and then set your goal. Follow the program’s directions for your daily calorie intake and log food to keep track. The good news for someone moderately overweight is that it will be less of a struggle to lose the weight and certainly easier to maintain the loss compared to someone very overweight. Below are directions for goal setting, monitoring and adjustments that your free program will deliver daily:

Weekly goal: lose 1-2 pound per week or approximately 1% body fat every two weeks. Your target daily calorie intake will be slightly lower than your daily burn, allowing you to lose at least one pound per week without compromising health and performance. Monitoring: weigh/measure in the same clothing, at the same time and on the same scale. Take care to also use the same method or device for body fat measurements. If necessary only adjust calories in or out every seven days:

Adjustments: a measurable or visual reduction in body fat and/or weight should take place in a fairly consistent manner such as a decrease in circumference inches, and/or the desired average decrease in weight or body fat per week. If progress stops or slows dramatically, one or a mixture of the following adjustments will be necessary to re-start the process:

  • Increase daily activities (e.g. daily steps or other non-athletic/exercise activities)
    • Standing and pacing burns 2-3 times more calories than sitting for the same time period
    • There are approximately 2000-2500 steps (depending on stride length) in a mile. Walking 2000 steps will burn ~75-150 more calories (depending on individual size) than sitting for the same time and only takes ~20-30min and can be done anywhere, even in the office, while on the phone or watching TV
  • Increase workout time or intensity
  • Decrease food intake approximately 200 to 300 calories per day or remove a small portion of your largest meal

Repeat the process any time weight or body fat is stable for at least one week. Always remember if you stop losing weight/fat you need to eat less, move more or a combination of the two regardless of what you read or hear from others. Once you have achieved your body composition goals, increase your calorie intake, decrease activities or a combination of the two in order to maintain desired weight.

Even if you are just moderately overweight the concept of losing weight is the same you will just not have much to lose as other people.  The standard norm is to lose 1-3 pounds per week to be healthy.  So to make sure you are burning more than you are eating.  So to keep in that range you need to be at a deficit of at least 500 calories per day if you want at least a 1 pound loss per week.  Remember to lose 1 pound of fat per week you need to burn 3500 calories per week which equals 500 calorie deficit per day. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.