Weigh yourself weekly to track your progress.
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Your calorie intake and expenditure are the most important factors in determining how much weight, if any, you'll lose. Although reducing your calorie intake is generally easier than increasing exercise for effective weight loss, either strategy is effective. Better yet, combine a reduced-calorie diet with a regular workout regimen to achieve successful weight loss you can maintain in the long run.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends losing 1 to 2 pounds weekly if you're overweight or obese. This rate of weight loss is often effective for long-term weight-loss maintenance, notes the CDC. Since 1 pound of body fat equals about 3,500 calories, burn off 500 more calories than you eat daily to lose 1 pound a week, or expend 1,000 calories more than you consume daily to shed 2 pounds a week.
Increase Calorie Expenditure
Increasing exercise boosts calorie expenditure -- but so does making dietary changes. According to the Harvard Heart Letter, a 155-pound individual burns about 600 calories running at a pace of 5 miles per hour for one hour. Heavier individuals burn even more calories performing the same task. Increasing dietary protein helps you expend additional calories as well, according to a study published in 2009 in вЂњThe Journal of Nutrition.вЂќ Lean meats, seafood, chicken, turkey, egg whites, low-fat dairy foods, legumes, soy products, nuts and seeds are all rich in dietary protein.
In general, effective weight-loss diets are based on 1,000 to 1,600 calories daily for women and 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day for men, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Student Health Services at the University of Washington, Tacoma recommends that overweight individuals consume 10 calories for each pound of their desirable body weight, or 1,300 calories a day if their goal weight is 130 pounds. However, weight-loss calorie needs are highly individualized. Therefore, adjust your calorie intake as needed to successfully lose 1 to 2 pounds a week.
Counting calories may seem like a daunting task. Although not an essential component of effective weight loss, calorie counting may improve your chances of success. A study published in 2011 in "The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical ActivityвЂќ found that weight-loss subjects who used food diaries were more likely to achieve weight loss than those who didn't keep a diary. Record what you eat in your food journal and use food labels - or an online nutrition database, such as the USDA National Nutrient Database -- to track your daily calorie intake.