Eat a Balanced diet- To figure out your macronutrient distribution, start by calculating your total daily calorie requirements using one of the following apps – https://www.precisionnutrition.com/nutrition-calculator or https://tdeecalculator.net/. Once you know your daily calorie requirements, set your protein intake between 10-35% of your daily calories (on the lower end for the general population and the higher end for active individuals). Next set your fat intake between 20-35% of your daily calories. Whatever calories are left will come from complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates should be set at 45-65% of your total daily calories which is the largest intake of the three macronutrients.
Track and measure your intake – Portion control is a major issue when it comes to weight loss, and many people have no concept of what constitutes a serving. People who are serious about weight loss should measure their serving sizes so that they can accurately track their calorie intake. Oftentimes, people will find that they have been receiving a large number of calories from “healthy snacks” like nuts and granola. Apps like MyFitnessPal and Lose It! make it easy to track calories throughout the day. Calorie counting and food weighing can be cumbersome, and it’s okay to slip up from time to time. Weight loss and healthy eating are a marathon, not a sprint, so the goal is persistence, not perfection.
Set realistic goals- A realistic goal is achievable, makes you feel good, and one you can maintain for the long haul. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable and Time-oriented (SMART). Do not set extreme goals that you are unlikely to obtain (e.g. 20 pound weight loss in 2 weeks). Set SMART goals like a 20 pound weight loss over 3 months with an aim to lose 2 pounds per week. Have a plan to get yourself there that fits your lifestyle. Examples of easy changes that can make a big difference include increasing your exercise, substituting low-calorie foods for high-calorie ones, or bringing your lunch to work instead of eating out.
Mix up cardio and strength training- It’s important to strike a good balance between cardiovascular exercise and strength training. The AHA recommends you get 30 minutes of moderate-intensity (55%-70% HR max) exercise at least five days a week (150 minutes/week), or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity (> 70% HR max) exercise at least 3 days a week. They also recommend adding in strength training at least twice a week. Make sure you have completed a good core and balance training program before trying to lift heavy weights to prevent injury. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn during rest! Muscle mass also helps to prevent injuries from repetitive exercises like jogging and cycling.
Do not fall for crash diets or fad diets- Do not fall for fad diets! They typically diminish one of the essential macronutrients, and this can have a negative effect on metabolism and/or contribute to strong cravings. The bottom line is that your calories consumed must be less than your calorie expenditure to lose weight. In fact, to lose a pound a week you must sustain a 500 calorie daily deficit. Oftentimes society refers to healthy eating and weight loss as “going on a diet”, which implies that something is being undertaken that is either temporary or can be stopped at any time. The truth is that if someone wants to achieve a healthy weight and maintain it, they will need to change their eating habits for the long haul. Simply dieting for a predefined length of time with the mindset that it is some sort of punishment for previous overeating will inevitably lead to regaining whatever weight may have been lost. People who are serious about their emotional and physical health do not go on diets. They adopt healthy eating habits for life 🙂