Sunday, January 1, 2012

Have I Been Dieting With the Wrong Approach?

Hi,  I was wondering if it's important to count fat in the diet, or just calories when you're trying to lose weight.
And what about exercise--is that really important too?
I've been trying to lose weight for years, but haven't been successful--I end up getting so hungry that I pig out, and then after one day off, I never can get back on to the diet plan I've made.
I really want to do it right this time and I'm coming to the conclusion I've probably been doing something wrong... can you help?    Julie T.
Hi Julie,
Hopefully I can help!
There are many thoughts about what actually helps people lose weight--besides reducing calories. One school of thought is that people can lose more weight following a diet low in fat, because fat is such a concentrated source of calories that your body loves to hold on to. But others find lower carb works for them. It may depend on the individual and what they can stick with easiest.

Exercise is the way to burn extra calories, so it can really help weight loss:  In order to lose one pound a week, you'll have to eat 500 fewer calories a day, and that can be tough. If you exercise for a half-hour extra each day and burn 200 calories, you only need to eat 300 fewer calories to be in deficit of 500 per day and lose one pound that week.
There are many online sites that let you enter a food diary and they calculate your daily calorie intake for you (like SparkPeople, Fit Day, and Livestrong).

Maybe in the past you've been trying to do too much, too fast.
I encourage people to make small changes that will add up over time.

If you can walk 20 minutes a day to burn 100 calories; substitute a beverage with something lower-calorie (such as a diet soda for regular, or use milk in your coffee instead of cream) to eliminate 100 calories a day; and have a healthier snack (swap cookies for fruit or a high-fiber cereal bar); you'll be able to lose 3 pounds a month with these small changes that might be easy for you to keep up.

If it sounds too slow at first, remember that this time next year you'll be 36 pounds lighter--and that's enough for a lot of people to get where they want to be!

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