Written on March 12, 2023 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Obesity is a common chronic disease, and one of the most effective management strategies is losing weight. The obesity prevalence rate in the US in 2017 was 41.9%. The estimated medical cost annually in the US was close to $173 billion in 2019 .
Whether you are purposely losing weight for health benefits or for your summer beach body, you are not alone. Every year, many people try to lose weight. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that from 2013 to 2016, 49.1% of U.S. adults had tried to lose weight in the last 12 months . Additionally, when it comes to weight loss in women and men, more women (56.4%) compared to men (41.7%) were reported to have tried to lose weight during the same time.
Over the years, various fad diets and programs popularized by celebrities and promoted through social media have come and gone [3,4]. Losing weight swiftly is not as easy as it’s sometimes advertised. It’s vital that you healthily lose weight so it will serve you better in the long term.
Numerous fad diets and programs claim fast and easy weight loss and should be avoided [5,6]. Some fad diets involve eliminating foods that contain essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed to maintain health . Typical characteristics of fad diets include:
Losing weight too fast can produce harmful health outcomes . If you decrease your calorie count significantly to lose weight rapidly, you will be losing not only body fat but muscle as well. Losing weight as fast as possible will also alter your metabolism, making longstanding weight loss harder to sustain. Eliminating nutritious food groups to lose weight fast can cause a lack of nutrients and may lead to fatigue, constipation, and loss of bone density. You can also easily get discouraged when you want to lose weight fast and notice you’re at a point where you’re not losing as quickly as you had anticipated.
Losing weight as quickly as possible is not the most healthy and beneficial method of weight loss. Healthy weight loss involves a steady decrease in weight and maintenance through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and beneficial lifestyle modifications that promote overall health [6-8].
A healthy and safe weight loss rate is considered to be 1 to 2 pounds per week [6,9]. A healthy starting goal for weight loss is reducing body weight by about 10% from baseline . A weight loss of even 5% to 10% from your original total body weight can lead to health benefits, such as improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugars . Gradual progressive weight loss that can be sustained is a safe and healthy way to lose weight.
No single diet works best for everyone. Weight loss plans that work for you may not work or be the best plan for another person [6-8]. Your individualized weight loss program is based on your goal weight, history, and preferences. However, some universal recommendations are part of all successful weight loss plans.
Effective weight loss plans require lifestyle changes, including diet, exercise, stress management, and behavioral therapies [3,6,8-11]. Decreasing fats in your diet without reducing calories is not enough for weight loss, but also decreasing carbohydrates can help reduce calories [8,9]. A diet plan that includes a deficit of 500 to 1,000 kcal per day achieves a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week . Physical activity, part of a comprehensive weight loss and control program, contributes to weight loss in obese adults, may decrease abdominal fat, increases heart health, and helps maintain weight loss. Moderate exercise for 30 to 45 minutes about three to five days a week is encouraged. After six months of weight loss therapy, weight maintenance should be a priority. Simple behavioral changes such as regular self-monitoring have had up to 92% success in weight loss interventions .
Losing weight is no easy feat. It takes genuine commitment and a personalized, well-designed plan. Here are five steps to get you started [3,7]:
If you want to lose weight healthily, consider speaking with your healthcare provider. You may want to ask your healthcare professional :
Through Everlywell, you can book Virtual Care Visits for online weight management to meet with a licensed healthcare provider to discuss your weight management goals and ways to lose weight in a healthy way.
What factors influence weight loss?
What to know about medical weight loss
How much is enough when looking to lose weight?
How to start a weight loss journey: key steps