The energy content of 1 pound of body fat is 3,500 calories. So to lose 1lb a week, a 500 calorie 'deficit' is needed each day (7 x 500 = 3,500). This is best achieved by making small changes to eat fewer calories and be more active. For example, swap a chocolate bar for a banana (save 150 calories) and add two 15-minute brisk walks (burn 150 calories) for a 540 calorie deficit.
It's important to lose weight in a healthy and realistic way. This allows you to get the nutrients you need, feel positive about helping your health and well- being, and get on with living your life. It also means you'll be developing new skills and attitudes to help you keep the weight off.
Dos and don'ts
- Feel that with the right skills you can control your weight and that it's a positive thing to do.
- Think about which diets (or elements of them) were helpful in the past and which weren't. Use this information to plan helpful changes and avoid past mistakes.
- Plan to make small and sustainable lifestyle changes.
- Keep a food and thoughts diary to help you identify problem areas and stay conscious of what and why you eat.
- Set realistic goals.
- Eat regular meals, starting with breakfast.
- Base your meals on a variety of healthy choices from the main food groups.
- Experiment with your low-fat cooking skills.
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- Adopt a flexible rather than all-or-nothing approach to eating.
- Learn how to cope with feelings, not feed them.
- Be more active more often in your daily life.
- Make time for 30 minutes moderate activity most days.
- Enlist some ongoing support.
Be lured by claims for rapid weight loss offered by quick-fix diets.
Use appearance as your only motivation to lose weight - improved health and wellbeing are also vital.
Give up if you feel you've had a bad day or eaten too much - the lapse isn't the problem, but your reaction to it could be.
Rely on a diet to solve your weight problems. It can provide pointers, but you must develop the skills and confidence to do it for yourself.
Get impatient with gradual weight loss - remember, it's more likely to end in long-term success.