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Lose Weight the Healthy Way With 6 Steps

If you're looking to lose weight, cutting out junk food and incorporating more healthy habits into you everyday life may be easier said than done. Don't sabotage yourself by trying to do too much too fast. 

Here are six steps to get you on your way to shedding pounds and keeping them off for good.

1. Visit your doctor

Before starting any type of diet or exercise program, you should make an appointment to see your doctor.

“The first step is seeing a doctor for an evaluation to find out what your exercise tolerance is,” said Dr. Fernando Bonanni, director of The Institute for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery at Abington Hospital – Jefferson Health. “If you’re not active, you probably won't have a normal metabolism. If you start exercising without knowing what you’re doing, there’s a chance you could end up hurting yourself.”

That’s not the only advice you can ask your doctor for during this visit.

“While you're visiting your doctor, ask for a sensible 1200 to 1600 calorie diet,” he said.

2. Increase your level of physical activity

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Increase your physical activity by moving more throughout your day.

“Each day, engage in activities with mild to moderate intensity for 20 to 30 minutes and aim to take 10,000 steps,” Dr. Bonanni recommended.

3. Stop drinking your calories

“Remove from your daily diet all liquids with sugar. Soda and fruit juices need to leave your life,” he said. Soda and fruit juices are not only laden with added sugar, but they tend to be high in calories – these are empty calories, meaning you’re consuming calories that provide you with few to zero nutrients.

“Water should be your main beverage choice,” he said, adding that you should drink six to eight glasses of water each day.

4. Eat protein

Your body needs protein for nearly every function – it’s an important component of every cell in your body. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues, and to make enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals. It’s also considered an important building block of muscles, bones, cartilage, skin and blood. Plus, protein helps you feel full longer.

“The actual amount of protein [you should consume] varies depending on your lean body mass,” Dr. Bonanni said. “For individuals with a normal level of activity, eat at least 60 grams of protein and no more than 80 grams per day.”

Consuming this amount of protein makes the aforementioned water intake even more important.

“Water helps suppress hunger and dilute the urge for carbohydrates that protein consumption can cause,” Dr. Bonanni explained.

5. Work on portion control

After you’ve successfully increased your activity level, cut out sugary beverages and increased your focus on consuming protein, the next thing you should try to tackle is portion control.

According to Dr. Bonanni, when you’re serving yourself a meal, your portion size should be about double the size of your fist.

“You should be eating three meals a day and never skip breakfast,” he said.

6. Look at the kinds of calories you’re consuming

“You can’t do it all at once; you have to do a little bit at a time,” Dr. Bonanni said of altering your diet and exercise routine. Making too many or too drastic of changes to your diet and exercise at once can make it hard for you to maintain your healthy weight-loss goal.

So once you’ve tackled each of the previous eating habits, look at the types of calories you’re eating and prioritize your diet.

“That’s when you should try to start reducing carbohydrates in your diet – take out the crackers, pretzels and starches that have almost no nutritional value and are high in sugar,” Dr. Bonanni advised. “And don’t eat anything that’s wrapped in cellophane – it’s most likely junk.”

Look for carbohydrates that absorb slowly, like vegetables and fibrous foods, to incorporate into your diet. And then there’s fruit – fruit is great, but fruit juices aren’t the healthiest options. Apples, apricots and grapefruits tend to be better fruit choices than melons and grapes, which have a high glycemic index, Dr. Bonanni said.

These six steps can set you up for weight-loss success because they work together.

“Diet, exercise, good coaching in nutritional choices and good eating habits are how you maintain long-term weight loss,” he said. “Diets are always temporary and don’t work – understanding nutrition is the single most important step.”

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