What it Takes to Lose Weight
If you are having any symptoms or have any questions, please call 811 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day.
What does it take to lose weight?
To lose weight, you have to eat fewer calories than your body uses. Calories are the amount of energy in the food you eat. Some foods have more calories than others. For example, foods that are high in fat and sugar are also high in calories. If you eat more calories than your body uses, the extra calories will be stored as body excess fat.
A pound of fat is about 3,500 calories. To lose 1 pound (16 oz. or 0.5 kg) of fat in a week, you have to eat 3,500 fewer calories (that is 500 fewer calories a day), or you have to “burn off” an extra 3,500 calories. You can burn off calories by exercising or just by being more active. (Contact your family healthcare provider before you begin any type of exercise program. Your healthcare provider can help you determine what kind of exercise program is right for you.)
The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat fewer calories and be active. If you cut 250 calories from your diet each day and exercise enough to burn off 250 calories, that adds up to 500 fewer calories in one day. If you do this for 7 days, you can lose 1 pound (16 oz. or 0.5 kg) of fat in a week.
Many experts believe you should not try to lose more than 2 pounds (1 kg) per week. Losing more than 2 pounds (1 kg) in a week usually means that you are losing water weight and lean muscle mass instead of losing excess fat. If you do this, you will have less energy, and you will most likely gain the weight back.
How often should I eat?
Most people can eat 3 regular meals and 1 snack every day. The 3 meals should be about the same size and should be low in fat. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables, eat a variety of whole grains and when it comes to meat, a little goes a long way.
Some people benefit more if they eat 5 to 6 smaller meals throughout the day, about 2 to 3 hours apart. For example, their first meal of the day might be a cup of low-fat or non‑fat yogurt and a banana. Three hours later they might eat a simple deli sandwich with whole‑grain bread and fat-free mayonnaise.
Eat breakfast and don’t skip meals. While skipping meals may help you lose weight in the beginning, it fails in the long run. Skipping meals may make you feel too hungry later in the day, causing you to overeat at your next meal.
After about a month of eating a normal breakfast, lunch and a light dinner, your body will adjust.
What is so bad about high-fat foods?
Foods high in fat are usually high in calories, which could lead to unwanted weight gain. Consuming too much saturated and trans fats may increase LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) level, and increase your risk of heart disease. Health Canada suggests that you include a small amount- 30-45 ml (2-3 tablespoons) – of unsaturated fat each day. Intake of saturated and trans fats should be as low as possible. To help decrease trans and saturated fat intakes, select lower fat dairy products and lean meats when choosing these foods
It is important to remember that some fats can be beneficial to your overall health. “Good” fat, such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are found in fish, nuts, and low- or non‑fat dairy products.
What are empty calories?
Some foods are referred to as “empty calories” because they add lots of calories to your diet without providing much nutritional benefit. An example is sugar-sweetened drinks, such as fruit juice, fruit drinks, regular soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened or flavored milk and sweetened iced tea. These drinks can add lots of sugar and calories to your diet.
But staying hydrated is important for good health. To reduce the calories and sugar in your diet, substitute water, zero‑calorie flavored water, non-fat or reduced-fat milk, unsweetened tea or diet soda for sweetened drinks. Contact your family healthcare provider or a dietitian if you have questions about your diet or healthy eating for your family.
Can I trust nutrition information I get from newspapers and magazines?
Nutrition tips and diet information from different sources often conflict with each other. You should always check with your healthcare provider first. Also, keep in mind the following advice:
- There is no “magic bullet” when it comes to nutrition. There isn’t one single diet that works for every person. You need to find an eating plan that works for you.
- Good nutrition doesn’t come in a vitamin supplement. Only take a vitamin with your healthcare provider’s recommendation, as your body benefits the most when you eat healthy foods.
- Eating all different kinds of foods is best for your body, so learn to try new foods.
- Fad diets offer short-term changes, but good health comes from long-term effort and commitment.
- Stories from people who have used a diet program or product, especially in commercials and infomercials, are advertisements. These people are usually paid to endorse what the ad is selling. Remember, regained weight or other problems that develop after someone has completed the diet program are never talked about in those ads.
Will diet drugs help?
Although diet drugs may help you lose weight at first, they usually don’t help you keep the weight off and may have damaging side effects. There are many types of prescription drugs for weight loss available in Canada. These are intended only for people who are medically at risk due to their weight. In addition, these prescription drugs are intended for use under a health care provider’s supervision as part of a weight management program that also includes physical activity and dietary changes.
Making lasting changes in these habits is the way to lose weight and keep it off.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Government of Canada