Back to Basics for Healthy Weight Loss

Reviewed by Sarah Klemm, RD, CD
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While there are plenty of ways to lose weight, maintaining weight loss often is difficult. The key to maintaining a healthy weight for the long haul is all about balance.

Make Smart Choices from Every Food Group

Your body needs the right nutrients to fuel it throughout the day. The best way to get what you need is to enjoy nutrient-rich foods from a variety of food groups.
Consider the following when building your plate or at your next trip to the market:

  • Fruits and vegetables often are low-calorie options, loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. For weight loss and overall health, limit added sugars and solid fats when you purchase or prepare these foods.
  • Whole grains contain dietary fiber, which can help us feel full longer. Swap out white breads and pastas with whole-grain versions or consider brown rice, quinoa or millet at your next meal.
  • Low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese provide protein, calcium and vitamin D, as do fortified soy beverages.
  • Lean beef, poultry, seafood, beans, lentils and soy foods are great sources of protein – a nutrient that helps repair and build muscles. Opt for grilled or baked meats, rather than fried, to limit saturated fats.

Get the Most Nutrition from Your Diet

Foods and drinks with added sugars and solid fats are a temptation for many Americans, but eating smart doesn’t mean you have to stay away from all fats and sugars. Portion sizes and food sources make a big difference.

If you have a sweet tooth – try fruit first. Fruit has naturally occurring sugars, but it also contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber. If you’re looking for something savory – try a handful of nuts, or some avocado with whole-grain crackers. Unsaturated fats can help boost your good cholesterol – just watch your portion size as too many calories from any source can still cause weight gain.

Still craving that dessert? Remember moderation is key and savor a small portion of your favorite treat.

Balance Food and Physical Activity

What you eat is just one part of the energy balance equation. The other is physical activity.

Finding a healthy balance means fitting physical activity into your day. For overall health, aim for 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day. To lose weight, you may need to be physically active for 60 to 90 minutes per day or participate in more intense activities. Try adding a 15- or 20-minute walk during your lunch break, or breaking up your activity throughout the day, to meet your goal.

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