Back to Basics for Healthy Weight Loss

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While there are plenty of ways to lose weight, maintaining your weight loss over the long term is often unsuccessful. If you've lost and found the same pounds several times before, it's probably time to go back to the basics of a healthy weight:

  • Prevention of weight gain or stopping recent weight gain can improve your health.
  • Health can improve with relatively minor weight reduction (5 percent to 10 percent of body weight).
  • Adopting a healthy lifestyle – eating smarter and moving more – can improve your health status even if you don't lose any weight at all.

If you want to maintain a healthy weight for the rest of your life, it's all about energy balance.

Here are three basic steps for success:

Make Smart Choices from Every Food Group

Your body needs the right fuel for your hectic, stress-filled schedule. The best way to get what you need is to enjoy a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods that are packed with energy, protein, vitamins and minerals from all the MyPlate food groups.

Where can you find these smart choices? When you go shopping, look to the four corners of your supermarket:

  • Fruits and vegetables from the produce aisles
  • Whole grains from the bakery
  • Low-fat milk products from the dairy case
  • Lean proteins from the meat/fish/poultry department

Here's an easy way to eat more produce: Enjoy one fruit and one vegetable as a snack each day. It's quick, easy, tasty and very nutrient-rich.

Get the Most Nutrition from Your Diet

The biggest nutrition challenge for most Americans is posed by high-fat, high-sugar foods and drinks, such as snack foods, candies and sugary drinks. Eating smarter does not mean you have to immediately go sugar-free and fat-free. You can make a big difference in your calorie intake by just eating and drinking smaller portions and by making empty calorie choices less often.

The key is to moderate, not eliminate. Watching portion sizes is an easy way to cut back without cutting out. If you want to cut back on sugar, drink water instead of sugary drinks and eat desserts less often.  

Balance Food and Physical Activity

What you eat is just one part of the energy balance equation. The other is your physical activity. Most of us take in more calories than we spend on our daily activities.

Finding a healthier balance means fitting more activity into your day. The minimum for good health is 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day. To reach a healthy weight, you may need to be physically active longer (60 minutes a day) or participate in more intense activities. How much activity do you usually get now? If it's only 15 minutes, try adding a 15- or 20-minute walk during your lunch break.

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