How to Lose Weight

The key to losing weight is to eat a little bit less and exercise a little bit more than you do now. Slow steady weight loss is the best. You will stay healthy and have enough energy for daily activities when you lose about one half to one pound in a week.

To lose one pound you need to cut down on or burn up 3,500 calories. It is easier to cut out 500 calories each day for 7 days to total 3,500 calories, than it is to cut out 3,500 calories in a few days. It might even be better to cut out 300 calories and exercise to burn an extra 200 calories.

The Food Guide Pyramid is a good place to see how you can cut calories. You need to know what you are eating and how much you are eating now. Then you may be able to cut down on the number of servings or the portions you eat. The Pyramid shows the number of servings and calories according to age and activity. You may not be as active as the person who needs 2,200 or 2,400 calories. So, you might want to cut down on the number of servings you eat in certain food groups. You may also want to check your serving sizes. The extra calories from bigger portion sizes can add up. Check the Food Guide Pyramid to see what counts as a serving. Try measuring the foods you eat in a day, then compare what you've eaten to the Pyramid guidelines. Take a close look at the number and serving sizes of foods you eat in the Fats, Oils and Sweets group. Do you spread a tablespoon or a teaspoon of margarine on your toast? How much oil or lard do you use when you cook? You can use less of these fats and get fewer calories.

You can also cut calories by having an extra serving of starchy foods instead of high calorie fatty foods. Try having a serving of bread, pasta, rice, fruit or vegetable instead of eating fatty foods like snack chips, pastries, processed meats or some cheeses.

Losing weight and keeping it off cannot be done by diet alone. Exercise is important, too. Thirty minutes of physical activity 5-7 days a week will help you lose weight. Walking, dancing, bicycling, swimming, and jogging are all good forms of physical activity. You don't have to give up your favorite foods or join an expensive exercise program to stay in shape. Enjoy a variety of foods and fun activities as your goal for a healthy weight.

Adapted from: Food & Nutrition News and Reviews. University of Massachusetts Extension.

To find out more about losing weight, read the file "Set a Goal to Lose Weight."

If you have questions about how you can lose weight, go to "Ask the Nutritionist."

To test what you know about losing weight, take the Quiz on "How to Lose Weight."

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