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Step by Step Guide for How to Lose Weight

Updated on July 22, 2012

Step by Step Guide: How to Lose Weight Quickly

We've all heard the statistics. As of 2008, the CDC reported that 64% of adults were either overweight or obese. The remaining 36% may not be overweight but many of them are actively working to maintain their weight. So does that mean that nearly everyone is either trying to lose or maintain their weight? I'm sure there are some people who aren't concerned but there are many reasons they should be. A healthy weight is key to preventing many diseases and chronic conditions such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and osteoarthritis.

Perhaps you're one of these people who are trying to maintain or lose weight. Perhaps you've tried over and over with various diet plans and you've even had some success but you usually gain the weight back. Losing weight and keeping it off may seem like an impossible dream. Don't give up. You just need a solid plan and the motivation to follow through with it in order to succeed. Follow this step-by-step plan for how to lose weight and you'll be on your way to a thinner, healthier you.

CC BY:  Via Flickr
CC BY: Via Flickr | Source

How to Lose Weight: Step One

The first step in your quest to lose weight should be to assess where you are now. Get out a notebook and tape measure and enlist someone's help to get all of your measurements. Measure your waist at the belly button, the widest part of your hips, your upper thighs, and your upper arms. Now step on a scale and note your body weight. All of these measurements should go into your notebook along with the date. You'll be measuring and weighing every week to assess your progress.

One thing to keep in mind is that you should put more importance on your body measurements than on your body weight. This is because body weight can be misleading as you get more fit. As you increase your muscle mass, your weight could even increase slightly even as your measurements decrease because muscle weighs more than fat but it also is more compact. Your body will look smaller and more toned but your weight may not go down as much as you'd expect. In fact, your goal should be to maintain or increase your muscle mass while burning your body fat and this is not easy feat.

How to Lose Weight: Step Two

The second step in losing weight is to determine your metabolic rate. This is just another way to say that you need to calculate the number of calories your body requires each day to maintain your current weight. The easiest way to do this is to use a calculator. Many are available Online but I like the one shown in the link above. It allows you to input your lifestyle activity level, which is how active you are on a day-to-day basis, as well as the exercise you do. For example, if you sit most of the day for your job, you'd input "sedentary" into the lifestyle area.

The number you get will be the calories your body requires to maintain your current body weight. This is a very important number to know. Without it, you'll be in the dark, even if you count the calories you consume because you'll never know how many calories you can eat and still lose weight. Record this number down in your notebook as well and keep it in mind throughout the day.

Ironically, this number will decrease as you lose body fat. So make sure that you take the time to recalculate your metabolic rate periodically to make sure you're still operating on a calorie deficit.

How to Lose Weight: Step Three

To lose weight, you'll now need to pull together a plan for creating a calorie deficit each day. We all know that in order to lose weight, we need to burn more calories than we consume. If we do that on a consistent basis, we'll lose weight. What you may not know is that 3500 calories is roughly equal to one pound of body fat. Therefore, in order to lose a pound, you'll need to create a cumulative calories deficit of 3500 calories. The safest way to do that is to create a small deficit by reducing your calories from food and augment that by burning more calories from exercise.

For example, let's say that your body needs 2000 calories per day to maintain your current weight and you want to lose one pound per week. In order to do this, you'll need a cumulative calorie deficit of 3500 calories over the week or 500 calories per day. You could cut out 250 calories from food and eat 1750 calories per day and you could exercise to burn an additional 250 calories per day. With this plan, you'll be on your way to losing one pound a week.

Steps for How to Lose Weight

Step 1:
Assess where you are now
Take your measurements and weight and record
Step 2:
Determine your metabolic rate
Use an Online calculator to determine your daily calorie expenditure
Step 3:
Plan for a calorie deficit
Subtract 500 calories from step 2 result to achieve a calorie deficit
Step 4:
Eat the right foods
Eat a healthy diet to result in a 250 calorie deficit per day
Step 5:
Exercise to burn 250 calories per day
Step 6
Stay motivated
Treat yourself when you meet milestones and visualize results

How to Lose Weight: Dieting Tips

Most people on a diet to lose weight want to know what to eat. There are many plans available that provide full menu's, even selling the food. Likewise, there are plans that give you an allottment of points, such as Weight Watchers. These aren't really necessary unless you feel that you need the structure and support that a weight loss program can provide. To lose weight, I would argue that you simply need to do a few key things:

  • Stay within your calorie goal: The best way to do this is to track the calorie content of everything you eat. Record it in your notebook, on an Online tool, or in an App. Be very careful of portion sizes. When you first start, measure and weigh your food so that you know how many calories you're eating. Also important is not to eat too few calories a day. A woman shouldn't go below 1200.
  • Drink plenty of water: Water is necessary for burning fat. In addition, some diets, particularly those that are lower in carbohydrates, are dehydrating. You need to keep you body hydrated by drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day.
  • Eat healthy fats: Healthy fats such as those found in avocado, eggs, olive oil, olives, and nuts, can aid in your weight loss efforts by keeping you full longer. In addition, fats are a necessary component of many hormones that help you lose weight. It may seem counter-intuitive, but eating fat can help you shed fat.
  • Eliminate refined carbs: Try to stick to slowly digesting carbs that won't spike your blood sugar and trigger an insulin response. The reason is that insulin is a fat storing hormone. When you eat something with a lot of sugar, like a candy bar or even pasta, your body responds by releasing insulin in order to get the sugar out of the body. This results in storage as fat if you eat too much. Carbs that are okay include oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and some fruit such as berries and cantaloupe. Eat a lot of vegetables too.
  • Limit alcohol: Did you know that when you drink alcohol your body prefers that as a fuel over everything else? In other words, your body will stop burning fat and will burn the alcohol first. This can be detrimental if you're trying to burn body fat. It's best to limit your alchohol to one drink a week but be sure to have something that won't kill your daily calorie intake. For example, a glass of wine or a light beer should be okay.

How to Lose Weight: Exercise Tips

There are many different types of exercise you can do to lose weight but the most common perception is that you'll need to do lots and lots of cardio. Actually, weight lifting is equally, if not more important for fat loss. You don't need to invest a lot of time but you do need to up your intensity. Whether you engage in cardio or strength training, keep the following in mind:

  • Lift heavy weights: If you can easily complete 12-15 repetitions of a strength exercise you're not lifting heavy enough. Your weight should be heavy enough so that you're out of breath and unable to complete your last repetition with good form. Just makes sure you get some help with proper technique and form before embarking on a strength training program if this is new to you. Lifting heavy weights will increase your muscle mass and allow your body to burn calories even at rest. It will also give you a toned, shapely appearance. If you lose weight but don't maintain or increase your muscle mass, your metabolism could decline and you'll just be a smaller, still unshapely, version of your old self.
  • Focus on short, intense cardio: On days you do cardio, practice what is known as HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training. With HIIT, you'll only work out for about 20 minutes but you'll alternate periods of high intensity with periods of rest. This is a great way to boost your metabolism and is much easier to fit into a busy schedule than endless hours on the treadmill.
  • Rest: Make sure that you allow 48 hours rest between strength training sessions for a given part of your body. For example, if you work out your legs on Monday, wait until Wednesday, at the earliest, to work them out again. The HIIT workouts will also be quite strenuous so you'll need to rest adequately between sessions. Only do one or two a week.

How to Lose Weight: Staying Motivated

If, in your quest for how to lose weight, you have trouble staying motivated, and who doesn't, there are many tricks you can employ. The first is to find a friend who is also trying to lose weight and go into this together. If you're there for each other, you'll be less likely to slip up in your efforts. You could also tell yourself that you're going to buy yourself a reward when you hit you goal weight. For example, you could buy a new pair of jeans or a new workout outfit. Putting up pictures that are inspirational to you is another way to stay motivated. Finally, joining an official weight loss program with weekly weigh-ins is a great way to stay with it. Knowing that you'll be facing your fellow weight loss partners and getting weighed in publicly can be a powerful way to stay motivated.

Good luck and don't give up!


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    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Thank you Cheryl!

    • Cheryl J. profile image

      Cheryl J. 5 years ago from Houston, TX

      Great information. Will use your step by step guide.

    • alanwhite profile image

      alanwhite 5 years ago from united kingdom

      I am also hearing more and more about that pronokal diet, though it seems to be around in the UK for some years now… maybe they just started advertising it or so.. don’t know much.

      you can serach on google about pronokal

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Hi Smithfoster25 - Thanks for reading. No, I haven't heard of that diet. I'll have to look it up.

    • smithfoster25 profile image

      smithfoster25 5 years ago from united kingdom

      Hi guys, I’m from London. I am new to this forum and I really like it!! Have any of you guys heard about that pronokal diet? It seems to be booming in the UK? or am I wrong?

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Hi rls8994 - Thank you for reading and for the positive comments. I also have more energy when I limit carbs. I try to eat just one starchy carb each day, oatmeal for breakfast, and then eat just veggies and maybe a piece of fruit along with protein for the remainder.

    • rls8994 profile image

      rls8994 5 years ago from Mississippi

      Hi, this is a great article with a lot of very good information. The low carb diet has been good for me. I have more energy when I limit my carbs. Thanks for sharing this information :)

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      @LHwritings - Thank you so much for the positive feedback...I appreciate it! And good luck to you in reaching your target weight!

    • LHwritings profile image

      Lyndon Henry 5 years ago from Central Texas

      I just wanted to say that this is an exceptionally well-done, informative, useful, and interesting article that stands way out from the average. I've voted this Up and Useful.

      It's rare to find an article that answers key questions on my mind and presents the information in an entertaining and grammatically clear way.

      Now, to try to implement some of this new knowledge in attacking my weight target...

      Five personal gold stars from me. Thanks!

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Thank you for the feedback ricopleasant!

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Thanks Mala!

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Hi pstraubie48...thanks for stopping by and for the positive comments!

    • Mala Srivastava profile image

      Mala Srivastava 5 years ago from India

      Very well written. Good tips to lose body fat.

    • profile image

      cmwaura 5 years ago from Minnesota, US

      I used to have big problems with stomach fat, but am getting in better shape now. Here's a good site I found that really helped. It gave me great workouts and diet tips and showed me what I was doing wrong before...there's even lots of free articles on the site..

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 5 years ago from sunny Florida

      The sad thing is I KNOW all of this. I have had issues occur that have caused poor eating excuses work though for being overweight.

      It is my 'get real' time so I am reading all of the diet opinions on here to refresh my memory and renew my resolve. Thank you for sharing was thoughtfully put together and offered much insight.

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Hi Laura - Thank you for positive comments and for stopping by to read my hubs!

    • Laura Schneider profile image

      Laura Schneider 5 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      Excellent article! You put together a puzzle that I have been trying to solve for years but couldn't because the pieces did not fit or they kept changing. This puts everything together and in perspective. Keep up the good work and good lucky in your skinny-fat dieting. I'm skinny-fat right now but thanks to you writing this article I won't be for long. Keep up the great writing!

    • GainEnergyLoseFat profile image

      GainEnergyLoseFat 5 years ago from USA

      Very excellent hub~ I enjoy this and this is also motivates me to maintain my goal to be very fit at my age.

    • Ruchi Urvashi profile image

      Ruchi Urvashi 5 years ago from Singapore

      Very detailed and informative hub. I got good tips to maintain a healthy weight.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Although you don't mention it, plain unbuttered popcorn (preferably air-popped) is a practically zero-calorie substitute for traditional dinner fare. It also satisfies the urge for "something" to munch on while watching TV or surfing the web. ;D

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Sounds delicious SilverGenes!

    • profile image

      SilverGenes 5 years ago

      Thank you for this excellent hub. Like you and JamaGenee, I do very well on a higher fat and protein diet also. Full fat Greek yogurt with fresh strawberries is pretty good too ;)

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      "Yes, I find that eating fat helps me as well. I do best with a lower carb, higher fat/protein diet. It gives me energy, curbs my appetite, and helps me lose weight. The typical high carb, low fat diet leaves me hungry and constantly eating."

      Me too. The fact that a higher fat/protein diet works better for you and me would indicate some of us have metabolisms very different from "the norm". That's why it's important to listen to your own body and know what works for YOU, rather than blindly follow some currently-popular weight-loss plan. ;D

    • cbpoet profile image

      cbpoet 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Excellent hub. I've seen lots of incorrect information shared but your findings support what I've researched and found true. Thanks for sharing!

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Yes, I find that eating fat helps me as well. I do best with a lower carb, higher fat/protein diet. It gives me energy, curbs my appetite, and helps me lose weight. The typical high carb, low fat diet leaves me hungry and constantly eating.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      I forgot to thank you for an explanation of why eating fat can be good for you. A thin hamburger patty cooked in the same pan as a few slices of onion and eaten without a bun or bread always cleanses my system, plus after a week or so of this as dinner and nothing else, I'm always several pounds lighter. Whole milk supposedly contains good-for-you fat that turns on slimming hormones, too!

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Thanks JamaGenee and KBEvolve!

    • KBEvolve profile image

      Kenneth Brown 5 years ago from United States

      This is the best explanation I've seen of these principles anywhere.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Wow. I can follow this plan! Thanks!

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Thanks for the comment TransferAmerica!

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Hi KC - Thanks for the feedback!

    • kaitlincolee profile image

      kaitlincolee 5 years ago

      Hi! This is a great article for those looking to lose weight!

      I agree that measurements are more important as compared to weight. I sometimes find myself putting on weight when I workout intensively for a period of time, but I see improved muscle tone.



    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Thank you for the comment Ryan and congrats on your weight loss!

    • profile image

      reparker 5 years ago

      A very comprehensive list! It covers all the important points that are most important. I'd like to add a few if you don't mind.

      1) If you exercise there is a higher likelihood that you'll eat cleaner. If you eat cleaner there is a likelihood that you'll exercise more. They both help each other. One without the other is much less effective.

      2) Continuation from the refined carbs food tip, even processed meats from burgers etc are bad. They too have simple carbs that most people don't know are sabotaging their diets.

      3) Greens and Fruits are your friends. In my experience eating any amount of them will not be detrimental to your weight loss efforts. Some fruits that are too sweet like watermelons however should be controlled.

      It is tips like these that have allowed me to lose 170lbs within 1.5 years. If you are interested in what I've done please visit my site