What are the basic rules of healthy weight loss?

Susan S. Blum, MD
Preventive Medicine

The basic rules of healthy weight loss are:

  • 1-2 pounds/week so you will lose fat and not muscle.
  • No starvation. Eat every 3-4 hours, and include protein with each meal. Vegetarian protein is just as good as animal.
  • Think about what you need to bring into your diet, not just what to remove. Adding fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds will squeeze out the bad stuff. It will also change your insides slowly, and this will change the way you look on the outside.
  • Exercise is key to making sure you lose fat and not muscle and that you keep it off.
Paula Greer
Midwifery Nursing

The biggest key to healthy weight loss is to learn how good nutrition and how your body burns and stores fuel and nutrients. Use your new found knowledge and understanding to make permanent healthy lifestyle changes in the foods you eat, staying active and exercise, stress management and getting a good night’s sleep.

I have clients pay attention to two things when beginning a weight loss program

  1. Be Ready... Have Faith... Forgive Yourself!
  2. The 5 steps to goal setting

Be Ready... Have Faith... Forgive Yourself!!!

I try and get clients to understand that they have to be ready.  Being ready is much more than saying you are ready, being ready is setting that decision in your mind and then following through.  Having faith just means believing in yourself and the process and finally it is not easy for anyone so you have to be willing to forgive yourself if you are not exactly perfect with the plan.

The 5 steps to goal setting

  1. You must have a vision - before you can worry about what diet or what training program you must know what you want to accomplish and try to be as clear with your vision as possible
  2. You must have a strategy - now that you have a vision you can be more clear about the strategy and the strategy will match your vision
  3. You must believe you can - now that you know where you want to go and the strategy to get you there you have to believe that you can and have faith that the strategy will match your vision.
  4. You must have persistence - setbacks will happen so you have to be sure to have that fighters mentality and rebound from setbacks
  5. You must have accountability - having some sort of accountability from a friend, spouse, trainer will help you suceed.  If you get to this step you also will learn a tremendous amount and have a greater chance to succeed long term
Melinda Johnson
Nutrition & Dietetics

The key word here is "healthy"! There are plenty of ways to lose weight, but the trick is to make it last - and that comes down to three things:

1. Reducing how many calories you eat in a day by about 10%

2. Increasing how many calories you burn in a day by about 10%

3. Making behavior changes that help you accomplish number one and two (the list here is highly personal - some examples include switching from your daily soda to water, or grocery shopping with a list).

When you attack weight loss in this way, you are aiming for slow and steady weight loss - this means you are more likely to keep that weight off in the long run! Working with a Registered Dietitian can be very valuable in this process - a RD will help to show you where you can painlessly shave off calories, and which behavior changes will make a difference to your efforts. To find a RD in your area, visit 

Mr. Donovan Green
Athletic Training
Everything begins from the mind. Learn how to think postive things about yourself. Avoid negative thoughts and negative people and know that everything takes time. Try to get rid of one bad habit per month such as eating less processed sugars and replacing that with more fruits. You can also start being more active.
Kat Barefield, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
The first step to changing anything is to become aware of what is currently happening. So becoming conscious of not only your food choices but also your activity habits is essential to identifying changes that can be made to support weight loss. The second basic rule is making adjustments to food and activity choices that you can do the rest of your life. Diets do not work for most people mainly because it is too difficult to stick to them the rest of your life. However if you can cut a hundred or so calories here and there and then burn another hundred calories here and there you are more likely to maintain these changes and keep the weight off. It is true that when it come to weight loss slow and steady is the best way to go in my opinion.

With all the information out there, try to K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Silly). Successful weight loss programs all have the following in common:

1. Portion control – Identifying an appropriate portion of food

2. Eating close to the ground (the foods ... not you!) - Lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables – these nutrient-rich, fiber loaded foods deliver lots of nutrition with relatively few calories and they fill you up

3. Eating breakfast – while it does not have to be first thing in the morning, people that eat breakfast are more successful at weight loss and weight loss maintenance than people who do not

4. Chewing not glugging – Loads of studies reveal that our bodies do not register beverage calories the same way we do food calories. Soda, sports drinks, cocktails all contain a significant amount of calories but they do not help fill us up, so we don’t reduce the other foods we are eating to compensate

5. Watching the “extras.” It’s not that you’ll never again have a brownie, but if these high-calorie foods (sweets, processed snacks foods, alcohol, fast foods, etc.) are a regular part of your diet, you will have a hard time losing weight. While weight control (why some people gain while other people lose) remains in some ways a mystery even to the scientists who study it, following these five simple rules will dramatically increase your chances of success.

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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.