Increase your level of physical activity:
Regular physical exercise is important for anyone who wants to lose weight. If you are healthy enough to exercise, your goal should be at least 30 minutes of physical activity 5 or more days per week. The preferred exercises are those that are continuous like walking, running, rowing, swimming, and cycling. However, you will still get benefit from discontinuous forms of exercise like gardening, housecleaning, home-repair, golfing, bowling, tennis, weight-lifting, and softball. The most important thing is to become more active.
Before beginning an exercise program, it is important to determine if you need a physician‘s clearance. Our Exercise Risk Questionnaire will help you determine whether you are ready to start exercising or whether you need a physician’s clearance to begin.
Despite the importance of physical activity, it is not advisable to suddenly begin exercising 30 minutes a day if you have been very sedentary. Rather, you should gradually increase the duration and intensity of exercise at a rate that you can handle without excessive strain. Increasing the duration or intensity of exercise too rapidly can lead to problems like stress fractures, tendonitis, muscle tears, and even cardiovascular problems, which would obviously defeat the goal of becoming more healthy. So be patient. Start exercising if you are healthy enough to do so, and allow yourself time to increase the duration and intensity of exercise as you become more fit. See our physical fitness program guidelines.Take in fewer calories:
Many people have gravitated towards diets that emphasize what you eat instead of how much you eat. This is a big mistake as no “what you eat“ diet has proven effective in the long term. The Atkins (low-carb) diet has proven superior in the short term, but it has been difficult to stick with and, after several months, the net weight loss does not differ from other “what you eat“ diets. So it comes down to eating less. One scientifically-proven method of reducing caloric intake is to use portion-controlled servings including meal replacements to ensure that a daily or weekly caloric limit is not exceeded.
One can prepare portion-controlled meals at home, but it takes a degree of care and attention. To avoid exceeding the target portion sizes, it is best to directly serve a dieter all the food that is to be eaten in a meal rather than letting him take food from serving plates and bowls and dishes. A simple food scale can help in controlling portion sizes. For example, pasta comes in all shapes and sizes so a cup of one shape can have a much different caloric content than a cup of another shape. By weighing the pasta before or after cooking, a calorically-consistent amount can be served.
Many men or whoever cooks for them are not inclined to carefully measure food portions. If that’s the case, they’re better off winging it. A man intent on losing body fat should weigh himself every morning right after getting up, which alone has been shown to reduce weight. If he sees a gradual weight loss, he knows he is eating the right amount to progress towards his goal. If not, it’s time to start cutting back on the amount of food he eats.
In addition to controlling the portion sizes of the meals you eat, between meal snacks must be controlled. It is best for most people not to eat any snacks at all and, if you have to eat them, to choose fresh fruits. The best way to avoid eating snack food is to not bring any into the house. Snack foods like pretzels and chips can pack on the calories fast. Caloric drinks can also be a major source of unwanted calories. Soda, beer, and fruit drinks contain a lot of calories with little nutritional value. Pure orange juice has value but should be limited to one glass per day. Milk is good because of its content of calcium, protein, and vitamin D, but is best taken in skim or 1% form because of the potential negative health effects of milk fat.
Eating food with relatively high volume but low calories has been shown to be somewhat helpful to those who want to lose weight. High-volume, low-calorie foods are usually high in water and fiber content but low in fats and carbohydrates. Low-sodium, non-creamy soups and salad vegetables with light dressing are good choices. If eaten before the main course, such foods can lessen one’s appetite and reduce consumption of the higher-calorie foods to follow.
Weight loss counseling, classes, and support groups have proven effective in helping people lose weight. However, most people need long-term support to avoid regaining weight. Fortunately this needn’t be done in person, as there is evidence that support via telephone, e-mail, or internet also serves to maintain weight loss.
The experience of others can help in finding a weight-loss program suitable for you. The National Weight Control Registry compiles information on over 5,000 people who have lost large amounts of weight (average 66 pounds) and have been able to keep it off for an extended time (average 5.5 years). Some lost the weight rapidly and others gradually. About half lost weight on their own and half with the help of counselors, classes, or support groups. A great majority of the weight-losers modified their eating habits and increased their physical exercise, most often by walking. Most of the successful weight-losers eat breakfast every day, weigh themselves at least once a week, and watch less than 10 hours of television a week. They average about an hour of exercise a day. While most of them follow low-fat, low-calorie diets in order to lose weight, fats such as olive oil and fish oil should be included in your diet because of their proven health benefits.