How to Lose Weight: The Basics

News and Advice, Weight Loss
on June 7, 2011

In today’s world, it seems like there is a new book, infomercial or celebrity promoting some new diet or weight-loss product every day, each promising that they have the secret to shedding pounds fast. A few of these products and programs are legit, but many of them are scams, designed to prey on the many overweight Americans who are desperate enough to try just about anything to shed the excess pounds. Fortunately, if you want to learn how to lose weight, the basics aren’t difficult to find. All the information you need to get lean and healthy is available online for free, so put down that new diet book, weight-loss supplement or exercise gadget, and keep your hard-earned cash where it belongs: in your wallet or IRA.

When it comes to losing weight, the basics are pretty simple: You need to burn more calories than you consume. You can do this by cutting back on your daily calorie intake or burning more calories at the gym. If you want to lose weight faster and more efficiently, you should do both.

Determine a calorie goal. Many health-oriented websites, such as, offer simple formulas for determining how many calories you need to consume to lose weight. Your doctor or nutritionist should also be able to help you determine a good daily calorie goal. Every body and lifestyle require different amounts of calories for fuel, so it’s important that you determine what is best for you, rather than follow some predetermined number in a diet book. If you restrict your calories too much, your body will resort to burning muscle rather than fat. This might result in a deficit on the scale, but over time it will only slow your metabolism because muscle burns more calories than fat, even when you’re at rest. Following an exercise program will help you retain muscle, but you also need to eat enough calories.

Lose weight slowly and steadily. Eating too few calories can also lead to nutrient deficiencies, which in turn can lead to other health issues. Plus, if you’re interested in how to lose weight and keep it off, you should know that the majority of people who follow very calorie-restrictive diets gain the weight back. If you’re significantly overweight, it may not be what you want to hear, but slow and steady is the best route if you want to lose the weight and keep it off. You didn’t gain the weight overnight, and it takes time to retrain your body and learn new, healthy habits. Some fad diets may yield fast results, but they don’t allow you the time you need to learn how to maintain them.

Combination of exercise is best. When it comes to working out, remember that a combination of cardio exercise and strength training is best. Cardio is the best way to burn those unwanted layers of fat, while strength-training can help build calorie-burning muscle and make you strong and toned. If you want to avoid “bulking up,” you might try a core-strengthening workout like Pilates in place of major weightlifting.