These Experts Explain the 6 Things You Need to Lose Weight and Meet Your Goals

Feb 15th 2014

These Experts Explain the 6 Things You Need to Lose Weight and Meet Your Goals

So you're ready to start losing weight: you're committed to changing your lifestyle, eating cleaner, hitting the gym, adopting healthier habits, and getting enough sleep. But where do you go from here?
1. Eat in a Healthy Calorie Deficit

Ultimately, losing weight is all about calories in, calories out. In order to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in. "You have to create a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose a pound," dietitian and personal trainer Jim White, RDN, ACSM explained. "This can be done by burning extra calories through exercise or reducing your intake of calories, but the best way is to use a combination of both methods. This ensures that you're giving your body enough nutrients during periods of weight loss."
2. Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods, Including Enough Protein

It's not just the quantity of calories you take in, but also the quality. Jim explained that not all food is created equal. "Especially when restricting calories, it's important to choose foods that are packed with nutrients," he said. He recommends following the MyPlate guidelines for incorporating each food group at every meal:

  • Fruits and vegetables: Fill half of your plate with different colors and varieties of produce.
  • Protein: Choose lean options like chicken, fish, and legumes.
  • Starch: Choose whole grains like brown rice or whole wheat bread.
  • Dairy: Include one serving of low-fat or skim milk, cheese, and yogurt.

3. Aim For 5 Hours of Cardio a Week

"For weight loss, cardio is king," Jim said, adding that the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 300 (five hours) minutes of Cardio Training a week (five hours) for weight loss. "I would recommend low to moderate continuous exercise," he said. You can also break it up throughout the week; instead of an hour at a time, maybe you go for a walk fro 30 minutes in the morning and ride your bike for 30 minutes in the evening.

4. Incorporate Strength Training, Too

Cardio is essential for weight loss, but you shouldn't ignore strength training, either. Not only does lifting weights burn calories in and of itself, but building lean muscle will help you burn more calories at rest!. "I would recommend two days of strength training a week of full body exercises for maintenance," he said. If you want to bump that up, trainer and fitness expert Jillian Michaels recommends weight training up to four times a week.

5. Get Enough Sleep

You know that when you don't get enough sleep, you're probably tired, cranky, and more likely to give in to your unhealthy food cravings. But did you know that a lack of sleep can also affect your waistline and overall health?

6. How to Keep It Off

Losing weight is just half the battle — keeping it off is the hardest part. Knowing that it still takes a constant effort to maintain weight loss, you can arm yourself with the right tools to keep the weight off for good. Eduardo Grunvald, MD, program director at UC San Diego's Weight Management Program, said the most important factor is to have a positive environment and ongoing support system, whether that's a weight-loss program, dietitian, health educator, or obesity medicine doctor or clinic.