How To Lose Weight

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Method 1 of 5: Rules of Thumb

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    Keep your own personal food diary and determine your weight loss goals upfront. It is important that you determine a healthy weight for your age and height. Sometimes, people want to lose weight to become very thin; this is not good for your health, so before you start, ensure you know what are your weight loss goals. People who keep food diaries, according to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, lose an average of 6 pounds (2.75 kg) more than people who don’t keep a record of everything that they eat.[1] So force yourself to write down the good, the bad and the ugly. Keep these tips in mind:

    • Be exhaustive. Write it all down, including beverages. Don’t pretend you didn’t have that extra glass of wine after dinner. If it goes into your stomach, it goes into the journal.
    • Be accurate. Record your portion sizes in your food diary. Don’t eat too little or too much – keep track. Also, read the ingredients list so that you can be accurate about serving sizes.
    • Be complete. Add detailed information about how your food was prepared (e.g. fried, boiled, grilled, etc.), and write down any added toppings or condiments that you ate.
    • Be consistent. Carry your food journal everywhere that you go. As an alternative, you can use a diet-tracking app on your smartphone or tablet.
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    Have a balanced diet. That means your diet should include appropriate amounts of food from all the food groups.

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    Avoid skipping meals. The same study found that people who ate at least 3 meals per day lost more weight than people who didn’t. The scientists speculate that people who skip meals either overeat at their next meals because they’re so hungry, or their bodies absorb more calories because they’re in starvation mode from skipping meals.

    • When you skip meals, your body stops breaking down fat and starts breaking down muscle tissue. Muscle tissue burns more calories at rest than other tissues, so you’re actually working against your goals.[2]
    • Make sure that you don’t get hungry by eating small portions throughout the day at regular intervals. Between your meals, eat a 150-calorie snack to keep your metabolism burning and to stave off hunger. Be sure that you don’t eat a fattening snack such as sweets or crisps. When you’re hungry, your body conserves calories and slows down your metabolic processes.[3]
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    Eat food from home. Sure, going out for a power lunch helps you to see and be seen, but researchers find that people who eat fewer meals from restaurants tend to lose more weight.

    • When you eat at a restaurant, you have limited control over your portions. As a result, you often eat more than you intended to eat. Try packing up half of it in advance and taking it home for tomorrow. Do this before you start eating so you’re not tempted to finish your big portion.
    • Ordering from a restaurant menu doesn’t give you complete information about how your food is cooked or what ingredients are used. At home, you can substitute lower-calorie ingredients or make recipes over so that they still taste great while delivering healthier results.[4]
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    Drink water regularly. Studies show that people who drink more water tend to have less weight. Water has the double effect of both hydrating your body and filling your stomach with a certain volume of a liquid that has zero calories. The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.

    • It may be best to drink cold water because the body will need to expend calories to heat the water to body temperature.
    • Drinking water about 30 minutes before meals can reduce the amount of calories people end up consuming, especially in older individuals. Research showed that dieters who drank half a liter of water before meals lost 44% more weight over a period of 12 weeks, compared to those who didn’t.

Method 2 of 5: Low-Calorie Diet

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    Learn to love fruit. Fruit helps to satisfy your sweet tooth thanks to its natural sugars. It also contains fiber to help you feel full quickly. Try some of these tips to introduce more fruit into your diet:

    • Choose fruit that’s in season. When you eat apples in the fall, for instance, or cherries in late summer, you are eating fruit at the peak of its flavor. It’s going to be a much more satisfying experience.
    • Eat freshly cut fruits like melons or pineapple chunks as snacks (they’re delicious) .
    • Keep a bowl filled with fruit on your kitchen counter or in your refrigerator. Also, keep dried fruit and fruit canned in water on hand in case your fresh produce goes bad. [5]
    • Prepare a large fruit salad containing mostly berries as well as other fruit that won’t go bad quickly, like pineapples or orange chunks. Toss in some walnuts and refrigerate the fruit salad for up to a week. Grab a cupful for breakfast or eat it as a dessert.
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    Eat vegetables for nutrition and to help you fill up more quickly. When you make your lunch or dinner plate contain at least 50 percent vegetables, you can have other richer dishes on your plate in smaller portions. Add veggies to your plate by following some of these suggestions:

    • Enjoy vegetables that contain potassium. Vegetables like sweet potatoes, spinach and lentils will ensure that you get the potassium that you need.
    • Use vegetables as a main dish. For example, make a stir-fry or a hearty salad and add just a few ounces of cooked chicken, salmon or almonds.
    • If you have a habit of eating out of boredom.Try chewing sugar free gum.
    • Eat crunchy vegetables as snacks. Cut up celery, carrots, peppers, broccoli or cauliflower and dip them in a light salad dressing or hummus.
    • Take advantage of frozen vegetables. They cook quickly in the microwave when you’re in a hurry to fix dinner.[6]
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    Learn to eat whole grains instead of refined foods.[7]

    • Substitute whole-grain foods for refined carbohydrates. Try whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta or brown rice.
    • Substitute whole wheat flour or oat flour into pancakes or baked goods. You might need to add additional leavening ingredients, like wheat gluten.
    • Swap whole grains into traditional mixed dishes. For example, put barley in your soup instead of rice or try a pilaf with barley, wild rice or brown rice.
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    Choose protein wisely. [8]

    • Select lean cuts of beef or extra-lean ground beef.
    • Try chicken breasts. If you use different cuts of chicken, then remove the skin.
    • Skip the fatty deli meats like bologna and salami. Choose lean turkey or roast beef as a replacement.
    • Vegetarians can get plenty of protein from soy, nuts, beans and seeds.
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    Eat low-fat dairy products including low-fat cheeses and nonfat yogurt. [9]

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    Consume healthy oils.[10] If you cook with oil, use a teaspoon of a healthy oil such as olive oil or canola oil. Or instead of adding oil for flavor, add spices or vinegar.

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    Make a meal plan, and stick to it. That can really help you know how many calories you consume and compare them to how many calories you burn. It can also help prevent extra snacking. Be realistic. If you like to eat out a lot, don’t try to totally eliminate eating out. Instead, plan on eating home-cooked meals six days a week. These home cooked meals should be balanced, with adequate fruit, vegetable, dairy, etc. Vegetable based dishes, as well as dishes with lean meat, grilled or baked food, and organic food are normally healthy. Do plan to consume snacks but try to make them healthy, for example, fresh vegetables with guacamole, or oatmeal. Cut out high calorie dressings or sauces. Promise yourself that if you can follow this for six weeks and exercise (if that is one of your goals), you will treat yourself to a restaurant meal one day of the week.

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    Eat only naturally-occurring carbohydrates instead of processed carbohydrates. Appropriate choices include carbohydrates that occur naturally in in fruit, vegetables, milk, nuts, whole grains, seeds and legumes. Avoid processed foods, like white bread, semolina pasta or crackers, or processed sweets like candy bars or sugary vegetables.[11]

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    Know the risks of living low-carb. If you stay on a low-carb diet long-term, you could increase your risk for heart disease and bowel cancer because you’ll be eating so many products made from fat and animal tissue. Other less serious risks include:

    • Headache
    • Dizziness
    • Weakness
    • Fatigue and poor concentration
    • Constipation
    • Bad breath

Method 3 of 5: Other Diets

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    Follow the Paleo Diet and eat like a caveman. Sounds crazy, right? You won’t have to hunt mammoth on the plains. Instead, you focus on eating the foods that our hunter/gatherer ancestors would have eaten, such as:

    • Grass-produced meat
    • Fish and seafood
    • Fresh fruits and vegetables
    • Eggs (omega-3 eggs enriched are best)
    • Seeds and nuts
    • Healthy oils like olive oil, walnut oil and coconut oil[12]
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    Try a Raw Food Diet. Are you sick of slaving over a hot stove? Then stick to raw foods. The Raw Food Diet requires 75 percent of your dietary intake to be uncooked. Most people eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans. Follow these tips when you’re on a raw food eating plan:[13]

    • Eat a lot of iron. Good sources include tofu, cashews, almonds and legumes.
    • Stock up on calcium. Eat bok choy, soybeans, figs, tempeh and cabbage.
    • Take Vitamin B-12 supplements. You can also eat nutritional yeast, fortified breakfast cereals and fortified soy milk.
    • Eat omega-3 fatty acids. You can take a supplement along with eating flaxseed and walnuts. You should also use oils rich in omega-3s, like canola, soybean, flaxseed and walnut oils.
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    Follow the Sonoma Diet. If you love the flavors of wine country, then you will love this diet. The Sonoma Diet emphasizes whole foods and calls on you to ditch processed foods with added sugar, foods made from refined white flour and food containing saturated fats. Here’s the lowdown on the Sonoma Diet:[14]

    • Start with Wave 1. Wave 1 is a lot like the induction period on Atkins or South Beach. You’ll ditch the carbs in favor of foods like vegetables, nuts, lowfat cottage cheese and soba noodles.
    • Progress to Wave 2. In Wave 2, you can add fruit, a wider variety of vegetables, sugar-free sweets and 6 ounces (175 ml) of wine daily.
    • End on Wave 3 when you reach your goal weight. On Wave 3, you can pretty much have any food that isn’t processed or full of hydrogenated fat. Reserve sweets for special occasions, and seek out exotic vegetables and fruits to keep things interesting.
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    Join a commercial diet plan. If you prefer to eat whatever you want and to meet weekly with other people who are losing weight, then try Weight Watchers. If you prefer prepared meals so that you don’t have to cook, try Jenny Craig or NutriSystem.

Method 4 of 5: Burn Calories

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    Introduce basic aerobic/cardio exercise. Start with a small goal of 30 minutes, 3 times per week if your aren’t exercising at all currently. Try these steps to get yourself going:[15]

    • Buy a pedometer. Attach the pedometer to your belt and try to take 5,000 steps daily. Move up to a goal of 10,000 to 15,000 steps as you get in better shape.
    • Invest in good shoes. Go to an athletic shoe store and buy shoes designed for a specific sport if you are trying an activity like running. Otherwise, just buy some good all-around cross-training shoes. Spend some money; your health is worth the investment.
    • Start by walking. Walking around your neighborhood costs nothing and is a great way to start moving. You can also try other low-impact exercises like swimming,riding a bike or slow running.
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    Work out on machines at the gym. You can use a treadmill, an elliptical trainer, a stationary bike, a rowing machine or a stair climber. Start with short sessions and gradually add minutes as you get more fit. Also, use the settings on the machines to increase the intensity as you lose weight.

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    Take a class. You can take a traditional aerobics class or try something different, such as:

    • Kickboxing: Kickboxing combines moves from martial arts, aerobics and boxing for a great cardio workout.[16]
    • Jazzercise: Every Jazzercise group dance fitness class combines dance-based cardio with strength training and stretching to sculpt, tone and lengthen muscles for maximum fat burn. Jazzercise is a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and kickboxing.[17]
    • Zumba: Zumba combines Latin music with easy dance moves. Because it alternates fast and slow movements, Zumba is a great vehicle for interval training.[18]
    • Pilates: These exercises developed by Joseph Pilates are designed to strengthen your core muscles and lengthen you limb muscles. Many dancers use Pilates as part of their fitness regimens.
    • Yoga: Yoga will help you to improve your breathing and mental focus while also increasing your strength and flexibility. Yoga is also a great stress reliever.[19]
    • Martial arts: You can go for something traditional, like karate or taekwondo, or you can try something more modern like mixed martial arts (MMA).
    • Boot camp: A boot camp workout will employ calisthenics like pushups, lunges and crunches as well as sprints or other interval training based on military boot camp training.
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    Get into strength training. Again, start small, aiming for 1 or 2 15-minute sessions per week until you feel motivated to do more.

    • Do exercise that work multiple muscle groups. If you do exercises that work out large groups of muscles instead of focusing on specific muscles, you’ll save time and actually burn more calories. Try some of these examples:
    • Start with squats paired with an overhead dumbbell press to work your lower body and upper body at the same time.
    • Perform resistance exercises while sitting or reclining on an exercise ball. You’ll strengthen your core while simultaneously working on other areas.
    • Use machines and free weights. These tools tend to focus on particular muscle groups like the arms, shoulders, thighs, glutes and upper back. Do these more focused exercises after you work on exercises for multiple muscle groups.
    • Rest at least one full day between strength training workouts so that your muscles can recover. Recovery will help you to avoid pain and injury.
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    Play a sport. Join a local volleyball team or softball team, or join a tennis league.

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    Enlist a personal trainer. A personal trainer will provide a customized workout for your fitness level and your goals. Look for someone from the American College of Sports Medicine or from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.[20]

Method 5 of 5: Stay Motivated

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    Make a bet with a friend or group of friends.[21] Commit to losing a certain amount of weight by a certain date with the caveat that you’ll pay up if you don’t lose. You may enjoy starting up a Biggest Loser Club at work or with your friends, or you can investigate a weight loss betting website like

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    Don’t be too hard on yourself. It means don’t beat yourself unproductively in case you slack in the routine you have been trying to follow, for example if you missed one day to exercise, ate too much, ate junk food etc. Research has proven that if you beat yourself unproductively over a mistake, you are more likely to make the same mistake again in the future. There would always be ups and downs towards your goal, but remember its the achievement in the long run that matters.

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    Set mini-goals. Instead of thinking that you need to lose 20 pounds, think that you want to lose 1 to 2 pounds this week. Or you can focus on non-pound goals like skipping after-dinner snacks this week or only drinking alcohol on weekends.[22]

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    Give yourself non-food rewards like a sports trip with a friend, a manicure or pedicure, a massage or a trip to the movies when you meet your mini-goals.Get yourself that new shirt that you’ve been wanting if you meet your goal of losing a pound this week.

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