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The Basics of Weight Loss

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: May 2023

Weight loss is the process of losing body fat in order to reach a healthy weight. This can be achieved through a combination of healthy eating and physical activity. When you burn more calories than you consume, your body will start to use stored fat as energy. This results in weight loss.1

How can weight loss help people with obesity?

Weight loss can significantly benefit people with obesity by addressing various health risks associated with excess body weight. Obesity is often linked to conditions such as:2,3

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Joint problems

Weight loss – when done through a combination of healthy eating habits and increased physical activity – can reduce body fat, improve insulin sensitivity, and lower blood pressure. Releasing excess weight can also alleviate stress on joints. Not only that, but weight loss can enhance overall well-being and self-esteem, contributing to a better quality of life for those struggling with obesity.2,3

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Which weight loss method is right for you?

There are countless weight loss methods you can try. But some are healthier than others.

Healthy weight loss involves making small, sustainable changes to your lifestyle. One important change is eating a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. It also means limiting fast food, processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy snacks. Weight loss efforts should be gradual, sustainable, and guided by healthcare professionals to ensure long-term success and minimize health risks.3,4

Physical activity also is an important part of weight loss. Regular exercise can help you burn calories, build muscle, and improve your overall health. One common recommendation is to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise and strength-building activities per week. This breaks down to about 30 minutes of exercise each day.3,4

When your goal is to lose weight, it is natural to want to see quick results. But crash diets, fad diets, and weight loss supplements often result in only temporary weight loss. They can also be dangerous. For weight loss to be healthy and sustainable, losing 1 to 2 pounds per week is a good goal. When it comes to healthy weight loss, slow and steady is best.5

Once you have met your weight loss goals, now it is time to maintain your weight. The key to long-lasting weight management is a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and healthy lifestyle habits that you can continue in the long term. Work with your doctor or dietitian to choose a plan that is safe and effective, and that works for you.3,4

Take external factors into account

Obesity is a complex condition. There may be factors other than your diet that affect your weight, such as:5

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Sleep quality
  • Any medicines you are taking
  • Stress level

Work with a doctor or dietitian to make a personalized weight loss plan that takes these factors into account. Remember, healthy weight loss involves making small, sustainable changes to your lifestyle and developing a plan that you can keep up for the rest of your life.