The Safe Way to Lose Weight

If you want to lose weight, you want to do so safely and permanently. There are so many ads hyping the latest fad diets and their miraculous effects that it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. One ‘weight loss expert’ says a vegetarian diet is best, another promotes a high protein diet. Some recommend a balanced diet while others focus on eating just one food. Some promise miracles in the first three days, while others want you to commit to a months-long program. What is the safest way to lose weight, and to keep it off?

The Key to Effective Weight Loss

There isn’t a magic pill, or a secret formula to weight loss. It all boils down to burning more calories than you consume. The real confusion comes from trying to figure out how to do that, and do it safely. While a severely limited calorie diet can help you lose pounds, it can be counterproductive if you ruin your health while you are at it. Starvation diets don’t work because they don’t allow your body to receive all the nutrients that it needs to function. People who lose weight too quickly also run the risk of regaining it again – and more. The formula is simple – eat less and exercise. Burn more calories than you consume.

Stay Balanced

Virtually all real experts will let you know that the key to a healthy diet is balance. Diets that tell you to eat just one kind of food – or even just one particular food – don’t have any scientific basis and aren’t healthy for you. Our body needs all types of food for proper functioning – protein as building blocks, carbohydrates as fuel and even fats for certain body functions. The key is to eat a balanced diet. One that is about 50% carbohydrate, 20% protein and 30% fat is typically recommended.

It’s also important to eat quality foods. We’ve become dependent on fast foods and prepackaged meals, but these are exactly the wrong thing to eat to lose weight. High in fat, low in nutrition, full of additives and salt, these meals are the quickest way to weight gain the world has ever seen. Think about the current obesity epidemic – which is probably why you’re reading this in the first place – and consider it in light of ready-made meals. It used to be that when mom made our dinner the plate had lean meats, wholesome vegetables and fresh fruits. Even if mom never really cooked like that, that is still a good goal to shoot for. The less processed, the better.

Don’t Crash Diet

Trying to lose weight too quickly is never good for you. There are many faddish crash diets that claim you can lose several pounds a day. While you might lose quite a bit initially, eventually your body will go into starvation mode and begin to guard the weight you have. Apart from the safety risks, this type of dieting is also counterproductive in that your body also begins to consume your lean body mass. That’s the part of your body that actually burns calories. So when you start to eat again, there’s less lean mass burning the increase in calories and you actually end up fatter than before!

So what is a reasonable amount of weight loss? All true experts say that one to two pounds per week is sustainable and reasonable. In our instant gratification society, that just doesn’t seem like enough, but think about the math. At one or two pounds a week, it is possible to lose 50 to 100 pounds in a year! It probably took longer than that to put on, so it isn’t unreasonable to expect some time to pass before it comes back off. Slow and steady wins the race.

It’s best not to think of a diet as something you are on for a period of time, and then it’s back to business as usual. Rather, think of this eating plan as a lifestyle change, something healthy you’ll do for the rest of your life.

The Bottom Line on Losing Weight

Easy? Rapid? Quick? Not typically. The formula for safe, permanent weight loss is simple:

  • Burn more calories than you consume. Eat less and exercise.
  • Eat a balanced diet of natural foods. Stay away from fast or processed food as much as possible.
  • Don’t crash diet. Slow, steady weight loss is not only the safest way to lose weight, it’s also the most permanent.
  • Don’t think of a diet as something you’re on. Think of it as a whole new, healthy lifestyle.

Take a look around and it may seem that we are losing the Battle of the Bulge. But with a little common sense, and a whole lot of patience, it is possible to lose that extra weight – safely and permanently.