There's a reason fad diets and quick fixes are so popular in the weight-loss world ? when you want to drop pounds, you want it to be quick and painless. Unfortunately, while quick-fix diets might be effective on a short-term basis, they almost never produce steady, long-term weight loss and maintenance. If you really want to lose weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle, it's slow and steady that wins the race.
Drastic Diet Dangers
It's tempting to engage in that crash diet -- the one that requires you to heavily restrict calories or remove an entire food group from your meals. But the Cleveland Clinic warns that such drastic diets can be dangerous. While they may produce short-lived results, they could also deprive your body of the nutrients it needs to be healthy. The changes to your diet are often so drastic that the diet is almost impossible to sustain. Soon, you'll be back to your old habits and you'll likely regain any weight lost, which is why steady, healthy weight-loss tactics are always best.
It's common to associate weight loss with going hungry -- the idea that losing weight requires you to starve yourself might be one of your major roadblocks in working toward a healthy weight. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that steady weight loss isn't about starving, but making smarter nutrition choices. Look for foods that are low in calories, sugar and saturated fats, but high in nutritional value, like protein and fiber. Swapping out a candy bar for a bowl of cut fruit, for instance, will keep you satiated while helping to cut back your caloric intake for more sustainable weight loss.
A pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. That means that to lose 1 pound per week -- a perfectly healthy, steady and sustainable goal -- you'll need to create a 500-calorie deficit between calories consumed and calories burned each day for one week. While eating lower-calorie foods can definitely help, physical exercise aids those efforts to help you see steady results. Aim for at least 30 minutes of cardio, five days per week, plus two days of strength training. You don't have to condense all of your exercise into one daily workout session -- simply retooling your habits toward a more active lifestyle can help, such as walking more than you drive.
Even the most conscientious of weight-loss enthusiasts can hit a plateau after weeks of steady weight loss. If you find that your progress has stalled, it might be time to reassess your efforts, suggests MayoClinic.com. You may be snacking more than you should or could afford to work harder at the gym. By increasing your efforts to match your improved diet and exercise routine, you can break through a plateau to continue your weight-loss journey.