How can I create a healthy weight loss plan?

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Creating and following a weight loss plan can be a difficult and time-consuming process. Luckily, there are tools available that can help.

The USDA’s SuperTracker is a free online tool that currently helps 1.5 million consumers to eat healthier, manage their weight and reach their physical activity goals.

SuperTracker's features allow you to:

  • Create a customized, appropriate calorie allowance based on your gender, age, activity level, and weight goals.
  • Journal your food intake, which research has shown can help you lose weight and keep it off.
  • Track what and how much you eat in order to see how your current diet stacks up against your customized plan.
  • Monitor the intensity and duration of your daily physical activity.
  • Interact with a virtual coach that will give you “how-to” tips and feedback related to your goals.

You can find SuperTracker at ChooseMyPlate.gov.

Creating a healthy weight loss plan will determine what your goals are.  First off you want to determine how much weight you want to lose.  Second you want to know how quickly you want to get there by basing a 1-3 pound drop per week.  Third how you are exercising will play a big factor on how you should plan your meals as well.  Remember never eat anything below 1200 calories and make sure your deficit per day should be at least 500 calories.  However you should always consult a registered dietician for proper meal planning if you don't know how.

 Undertaking this important journey should not be done alone. Having supporting people who will encourage you in positive ways, without shame, embarrassment or sabotage, this group should include people who will listen to your concerns and feelings and spend time exercising with you. Your support group can also offer accountability, which can be a strong motivation to stick to your weight-loss goals.

 Having an understanding of  your eating habits and patterns are essential to your success, the easiest way to do this is keeping a food journal for about 2 weeks, write down everything that you eat and drink and the times you are ingesting everything. This will show when you are your busiest, how often you eat, how much fluid/water you getting daily, what days are more hectic and your go to foods. Once you have this information it is time to set realistic weight-loss goals. What is realistic? It's best to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week, although initially you might lose weight more quickly than that if you make significant changes.

Adopting a new eating style that promotes weight loss must include lowering your total calorie intake. But decreasing calories need not mean giving up taste. One way you can lower your calorie intake is by eating more plant-based foods — fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Variety is key to help you achieve your goals without giving up taste or nutrition. Kick your weight loss plan off with eating a healthy breakfast every day; eating at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruits daily; and using healthy fats, such as olive oil, vegetable oils and nut butters. In addition, cut back on sugar, choose low-fat dairy products and keep meat consumption to a 3-ounce portion (about the size of a deck of cards).

Many weight loss programs believe you can lose weight without exercise, In some cases this may be true BUT exercise plus calorie restriction can help give you the weight-loss edge. Exercise can help burn off the excess calories you can't cut through diet alone. Exercise also offers numerous health benefits, including boosting your mood, strengthening your cardiovascular system and reducing your blood pressure. Exercise can also help in maintaining weight loss. Studies show that people who maintain their weight loss over the long term get regular physical activity.

Creating a healthy weight loss plan is not much different than creating a healthy eating plan for someone who doesn’t need to lose weight. You will need to eat fewer calories than you are used to. You will still want to eat a variety of foods that includes fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Portion Control: Another Step toward Weight Loss

  • Invest in a set of measuring cups and spoons and a food scale that weighs food in ounces or grams.
  • Serve yourself your usual portion. Now measure it. Is it more or less than you expected?
  • Weigh a piece of bread or a bagel. One serving of bread is 1 ounce. How does yours compare?
  • Try dividing and weighing portions of different meats and seafood before cooking. One serving of meat is 4 ounces raw (3 ounces after cooking).
  • Practicing portion control at home will help you estimate how much of your meal to set aside for a doggy bag when eating out.

Continue Learning about Weight Loss

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.