Plan for success: know how many calories you need to lose weight
Eating and drinking less creates weight loss. It’s often just that simple, but exactly how many calories should you cut?
If you exercise frequently, diets with more calories might also be appropriate. The goal is the right dietary plan for you.
Diets with less than 800 calories daily should be avoided unless you are in the care of a physician.
Your body needs nutrients, so look for diets packed with high-quality foods.
Put an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
Don’t shy away from lean meats, such as poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts. Limit red meat, as well as foods high in saturated fats and trans fats.
High-quality foods, regular exercise and a diet plan with the amount of calories you need can promote weight loss.
Source: National Heart, Lunch, and Blood Institute
Tired of confusing diet plans? Just build a perfect plate
When it comes to diets, agreement about the perfect plan isn’t easy to find, even among the experts.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture developed guidelines, but experts at the Harvard School of Public Health and editors at Harvard Health Publications had their own ideas.
They developed an idea known as the Healthy Eating Plate. Just imagine a plate divided into logical, healthy portions.
The emphasis is on diet quality:
- Load up on vegetables and fruits – one-half of your plate: Aim for color and variety, and remember that potatoes don’t count.
- Go for whole grains - one-quarter of your plate: Whole wheat, barley, wheat berries, quinoa, oats, brown rice, and foods made with them. If you want pasta, go with whole wheat pasta.
- Protein power – one-quarter of your plate: Fish, chicken, beans, and nuts are all healthy, versatile protein sources. Limit red meat.
The diet, however, does go beyond the plate, offering a few other suggestions.
- Use healthy plant oils, such as olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower and peanut. Check the labels, and void partially hydrogenated oil, which have unhealthy trans fats.
- If you’re thirsty, drink water. Coffee and tea are good in moderation, but skip sugary drinks and limit milk and dairy products to one or two daily servings.
- The type of carbohydrate in the diet is more important than the amount. Some sources of carbohydrates, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans—are healthier than others.
- Unlike the USDA guide, the Harvard-plan does not set a maximum on the percentage of calories people should get each day from healthy sources of fat. Instead, the focus is on the quality of food.
- Finally, stay active.