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Staying Healthy While Losing Weight

Updated on March 12, 2007

Rather than think of it as a diet try to think of it as a lifestyle change, if you go on a diet and than stop and go back to your old ways you will more than likely just gain the weight right back, but if you make changes in your lifestyle you will have a better chance of losing the weight and keeping it off!

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), be wary of weight loss programs that use these phrases to describe themselves:

  • Breakthrough
  • Easy
  • Effortless
  • Fast
  • Guaranteed
  • Magical
  • Quick
  • Discovery
  • Immediate
  • Miracle Cure

When of the best things you can do to help with your overall health is to be at your optimum weight, underweight and overweight people experience many more medical problems than those at the right weight. That being said, if you are overweight, shedding excess pounds is one of the healthiest things you can do, but ONLY if you stay healthy while losing the weight. Not getting the right nutritional value while dieting can not only impede your weight loss, but also lead to a large number of problems, including anything from dullness of your hair to kidney failure! So it is important to understand how to lose weight and maintain your health.

If a diet sounds too good to be true, it is!

The number of diets out there is overwhelming, everything from limiting carbohydrates to eating grapefruits, and every year the amount of diets grows. These new "fad" diets all promise the same thing, a new and revolutionary approach to weight lose that they grantee will work for you. The simple truth is, these diets that promise rapid weight loss by greatly restricting the intake of specific foods and nutrients can undermine people's health, cause physical discomfort, and lead to disappointment when people regain their weight soon after they lose it. Any diet plan or product that claims you can lose weight without lowering the calories you take in and/or increasing your physical activity not telling you the truth. Despite all the hype, the only sensible way to lose weight and maintain it is to eat a healthier diet and increase your physical activity.

Dangers of an unhealthy diet

The dangers that come with an unhealthy diet are almost endless, restricting too much protein in your diet can cause everything from dullness in your hair and brittle finger nails to stomach and intestine problems, not getting enough of certain vitamins will lower our immune system and make it more likely for us to become ill. The list goes on and on, so it is important to understand your nutritional needs, and to continue to provide yourself with enough fuel for your body to function. You should never become overly tired or week during a diet, this is a sign that you are losing weight too quickly.

The first step is to set realistic expectations.

If you start out with a weight loss goal that is too high, you will be disappointed. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), successful weight loss is typically losing about 10 percent of your body weight in six months. Experts recommend losing about ¾ to 2 pounds per week and not more than 3 pounds per week, weight loss will most likely be faster at the start of the program. When it comes to successful weight loss and weight management, steady and slow is the way to go.

Make wise food choices.

Although everyone is different in terms of their food preferences, preferred meals and the times of day they like to eat, some fundamental food choices are essential for nutritional completeness and reduced disease risk, these include:

  • ¨ include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products into your diet;
  • ¨ also include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts into your diet;
  • ¨ stay away from foods high in saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.

Try to stay away from packaged foods, even thought some of these food may be "diet" or "low fat", they often can very high amounts of salt. If you make food yourself you will know exactly what is going in to it and you can limit the amount of salt and butter.

Experts stress the benefits of choosing what are known as "low-energy density foods" - meaning foods that are higher in water content and not very concentrated in calories. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and cooked grains are examples of low-energy-density foods that give you plenty of water and fiber for very few calories. Adding more of these foods will give you the sensation that you are eating more food while losing weight.

Be more physically active.

If you want to lose weight you have to move, there is no doubt about it. And any exercise is good exercise, whether it is taking the stairs rather than the elevator, or parking on the far side of the parking lot to give you a few extra steps in your day, it is all helpful! You should also try to build exercise into your week, 3 times a week for 30 minutes is recommended. And anything works, biking, running, walking, swimming- just get out there and move!

Create a supportive atmosphere

A supportive atmosphere is important for losing weight and keeping it off. Especially because eating is often a social activity that involves family and friends, it is generally better to let the people you care about know that you are trying to control your weight. They can be of great help. At the same time, don't overlook the benefits of joining a support group. Research has shown that dieters who recruited friends or family members to help them had better results losing weight and keeping it off than dieters who had no buddy system to fall back on. By joining a group, you gain valuable support and knowledge from others going through the same situation.

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