When you've decided to slim down, or a doctor has told you to lose weight or suffer the health consequences, it's natural to want to go all in for quick results.
But quick and dramatic weight loss won't get you where you want to be, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC evidence shows that losing around 1-2 pounds per week makes you more likely to keep weight off long-term.
You can lose the recommended maximum by applying Diet 101 math. "You can drop a pound a week by trimming 500 calories each day," according to Health.com, which based calculations on how many calories a 150-pound woman burns.
To lose 2 pounds per week, you'd need to reduce caloric intake or burn extra calories for a goal of 1,000 fewer calories per day.
Exercise goal: Lose 2 pounds per week
For the exercise portion of losing 2 pounds a week, keep in mind that your exercise targets might be different than other people's, according to the CDC.
"Strong scientific evidence shows that physical activity can help you maintain your weight over time. However, the exact amount of physical activity needed to do this is not clear since it varies greatly from person to person," the CDC said.
If you are coming from a point of little or no activity, work your way up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent mix of the two each week, the CDC said.
To translate that into enough exercise to work off about 1,000 calories in one day, determine how much moderate and vigorous activity you do.
Moderate activity means your breathing and heart rates are noticeably faster, but you can still carry on a conversation. Examples include walking briskly to complete a mile in 15 minutes, light yard work such as raking, active play with kids and biking at a leisurely pace.
Vigorous activity increases your heart rate considerably and makes you breathe too hard to converse. Examples include jogging, swimming laps, rollerblading at a brisk pace, cross-country skiing, jumping rope and most competitive sports.
How many calories do you burn in typical activities?
The CDC lists these calorie burns for common physical activities.
Moderate physical activity calories burned/30 minutes for a 154-pound person
Light gardening/yard work: 165
Golf, walking and carrying clubs: 165
Bicycling at less than 10 miles per hour: 145
Walking at 3.5 miles per hour: 140
Weight lifting, general light workout: 110
Vigorous physical activity calories burned/30 minutes for a 154-pound person
Running/jogging about 5 miles per hour: 295
Bicycling faster than 10 miles per hour: 295
Swimming slow freestyle laps: 255
Walking at 4.5 miles per hour: 230
Heavy yard work such as chopping wood: 220
Weight lifting with vigorous effort: 220
Basketball, vigorous: 220
5 other ways to cut 500 calories a day
Along with exercise, you can drop a pound a week just by trimming 500 calories each day, according to Health.com. It suggested innovative tweaks in a collection of "25 Ways to Cut 500 Calories a Day," based on calories burned by a 150-pound woman. Some of Health.com's suggestions for losing a pound of calories in a week included
1. Tap your foot to burn up to 350 calories per day. Walk around while you're on the phone, or tap out a tune with your hands or feet.
2. Don't eat in front of the TV. When you eat in front of the television, you eat as many as 288 calories more, according to research from the University of Massachusetts. "Instead, eat at the table, and trade 1 hour of TV for a casual walk. Together, that's 527 calories burned."
3. Limit salad toppings. Save 500 or more calories by having just one topping, adding flavorful but lower-cal veggies (roasted bell peppers, grilled onions, or mushrooms), and using half the dressing.
4. Skinny up cocktails. Order drinks mixed with club soda, tonic water, cranberry juice or a squeeze of citrus −or try distilled liquors on the rocks. You'll save up to 800 calories.
5. Limit dinner guests. Eating with seven or more other guests can make you eat 96 percent more food, says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of Mindless Eating. "Dine with fewer guests to save 500 or more calories."
Throughout your weight loss journey, the CDC recommends remembering that your health benefits even if you don't reach, or even get close to, your weight loss goal.
"Even a modest weight loss, such as 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight, is likely to produce health benefits, such as improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugars," the CDC said. It also cited reports from the National Weight Control Registry that those who maintained a significant weight loss experienced improvements in energy levels, physical mobility, general mood and self-confidence.
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