Weight Loss for Life
There are many ways to lose weight, but it is not always easy to keep the weight off. The key to successful weight loss is making changes in your eating and physical activity habits that you can keep up for the rest of your life. The information presented here may help put you on the road to healthy habits.
Can I benefit from weight loss?
Some weight-related health problems:
Health experts agree that you may gain health benefits from even a small weight loss if:
A weight loss of 5 to 15 percent of body weight may improve your health and quality of life, and prevent these health problems. For a person who weighs 200 pounds, that means losing 10 to 30 pounds.
Even if you do not need to lose weight, you still should follow healthy eating and physical activity habits to help prevent weight gain and stay healthy as you age.
Find your weight on the bottom of the graph. Go straight up from that point until you come to the line that matches your height. Then look to find your weight group.
How can I lose weight?
Calories needed to maintain weight
Your body weight is controlled by the number of calories you eat and the number of calories you use each day. To lose weight you need to take in fewer calories than you use. You can do this by creating and following a plan for healthy eating and a plan for regular physical activity.
You may also choose to follow a formal weight-loss program that can help you make lifelong changes in your eating and physical activity habits. See below for more information on weight-loss programs.
Your plan for healthy eating
The Nutrition Facts label from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is found on most packaged foods. It tells you how many calories and how much fat, protein, carbohydrate, and other nutrients are in one serving of the food. For more information on the Nutrition Facts label, see "Other Resources" at the end of this brochure.
A weight-loss "diet" that limits your portions to a very small size or that excludes certain foods may be hard to stick to and not work over the long term. Instead, a healthy eating plan takes into account your likes and dislikes, and includes a variety of foods that give you enough calories and nutrients for good health.
Make sure your eating plan contains:
Your plan for regular physical activity
Regular physical activity may help you lose weight and keep weight off. It may also improve your energy level and mood, and lower your risk for developing diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
Any amount of physical activity is better than none. Experts recommend doing 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most or all days of the week for good health. To lose weight or maintain a weight loss, you may need to do more than 30 minutes of physical activity a day, as well as follow your healthy eating plan.
You can get your daily 30 minutes or more all at once, or break it up into shorter sessions of 20, 15, or even 10 minutes. Try some of these moderate-intensity physical activities:
What types of weight-loss programs are available?
There are two different types of weight-loss programsclinical and non-clinical. Knowing what a good program will offer and what to watch out for may help you choose a weight-loss program that will work for you.
What it is: A non-clinical program may be commercially operated, such as a privately owned weight-loss chain. You can follow a non-clinical program on your own by using a counselor, book, website, or weight-loss product. You can also join others in a support group, worksite program, or community-based program. Non-clinical weight-loss programs may require you to use the program's foods or supplements.
What a safe and effective program will offer:
What it is: A clinical program provides services in a health care setting, such as a hospital. One or more licensed health professionals, such as medical doctors, nurses, registered dietitians, and/or psychologists, provide care. A clinical program may or may not be commercially owned.
Clinical programs may offer services such as nutrition education, physical activity, and behavior change therapy. Some programs offer prescription weight-loss drugs or gastrointestinal surgery.
Prescription weight-loss drugs
If your BMI is 30 or more, or your BMI is 27 or more and you have weight-related health problems, you may consider using prescription weight-loss drugs. Drugs should be used as part of an overall program that includes long-term changes in eating and physical activity habits. Only a licensed health care provider can prescribe these drugs. See "Additional Reading" for more information about prescription medications for the treatment of obesity.
If your BMI is 40 or more, or your BMI is 35 or more and you have weight-related health problems such as diabetes or heart disease, you may consider gastrointestinal surgery (also called bariatric surgery). Most patients lose weight quickly, and many keep off most of their weight with a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity. Still, surgery can lead to problems that require more operations. Surgery may also reduce the amount of vitamins and minerals in your body and cause gallstones. See "Additional Reading" for more information about gastrointestinal surgery.
What a safe and effective program will offer:
For more detailed information about choosing a safe and successful weight-loss program, see "Additional Reading" at the end of this brochure.
It is not always easy to change your eating and physical activity habits.
You may have setbacks along the way.
But keep tryingyou can do it!
NIH Publication No. 04-3700 May 2004
We'll teach you how to #LiveTo100!
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