What is healthy weight loss?

Dr. Ileen Craven
Nursing Specialist

Thank you for this very timely question. This country is facing a massive issue regarding obesity, especially concerning our youth. The reality is that if we continue to have obese children the risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease will affect these children at an early age.

Healthy weight loss is losing about a pound a week. That is 500 less calories a day. Each pound of weight lost is equivalent to 3500 calories. This may be a slow loss for some, but the reality is that evidence based practice shows that people who lose weight slowly are less likely to gain it back. In America we are used to instant results for many things, but this is not often a recommended practice when our health is at stake.

Do you drink cream with your coffee? Substitute skim milk and that is probably a hundred calories you have saved. Take the top bun off the hamburger you eat. That may be another hundred calories. If you like regular salad dressing substitute low fat and you may save another two hundred calories. If you like pasta measure it to the equivalent serving and you could save at least a few hundred calories. And the list goes on.....

First, you must set a realistic goal for yourself. If you need to lose 40 pounds, 20 pounds, or 10 pounds you must think you can do it. Learn to exercise regularly. You don't have to join a gym. Go out and start walking. Check with your health care provider before you start any diet or exercise regime. Find someone in your family who will champion you and support you to lose weight. THINK YOU CAN DO IT. If you cheat, have a bad day, or are upset with yourself it's ok. Tomorrow is another day and you can start again.

Ms. Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Healthy weight loss is one that is gradual ~1 to 2 times/week. This will be a weight loss pattern that will be sustainable. It would include foods from all the different food groups and incorporate whole grains, high fiber, lean protein, low fat dairy/dairy alternatives in the right portions. It would also include a regular physical activity component. Lifestyle and behavior changes are critical for the success of a healthy weight loss to occur.

Romy Nelson
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Healthy weight loss can be accomplished by changing your relationship with food, and eating 5 to 6 Small Meals a Day.

Do you lose the same amount of weight, only to “find” it again?

Is it easy to be “good” all day and then you find yourself over-eating at night?

Does your energy (physically, mentally and emotionally) drop in the late afternoon?

The secret fix for all of that is adapting the 5-6 “small” meals a day rule. It’s a rule that allows you to transform your body — if you continue the pattern for life. The key is being organized by always having convenient, healthy, portion-controlled food with you everywhere you go.

In this new relationship with food, a “meal” no longer refers to waiting too long to eat (4, 5, 6 hours or more), causing your blood sugar to bottom-out. When this happens, you will over-eat. In the small meal pattern, you are not on a diet and therefore there is no going off it. Instead, for the rest of your life, you make a commitment to eating every 2-3 hours to prevent the kind of hunger that drops your blood sugar and leads to over-eating later in the day.

Each “small meal” should to contain either fat or protein to balance the carbohydrates. Consume fruits and veggies (foods high in fiber, vitamins and minerals) and/or healthy fats at most meals.

Protein is the nutrient with the highest satiety value. That means protein makes you feel full sooner and for longer than do fats or carbohydrates. Fats have the second highest satiety value after protein. When you eat smaller amounts throughout the day with enough protein, your blood sugar is controlled. The other bonus of eating protein throughout the day: conserving muscle mass (the “good” weight) while losing more body fat. Strength training also helps preserve muscle mass while you lose fat.

When you eat 5-6 small meals a day, over-time your stomach shrinks, so you get full sooner on less food. However, it can be re-stretched if you go back to your old ways! This is a life-long eating pattern that will keep you at your goal weight and body fat if you make it an everyday habit, just like brushing your teeth!

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Healthy weight loss is gradual and sustainable. The goal of any weight loss should be to increase knowledge about food, your body, and your habits. There is no one way for everyone. Weight loss is individual and requires making a plan that works for you. Healthy weight loss allows you to look carefully at habits and circumstances that led to the weight gain. Healthy weight loss takes time so you can make long lasting changes so the weight does not return.

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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.