There are many approaches to dieting and many claims for great success with various fad diets. To date, although many diets achieve effective immediate weight loss, none has emerged as an effective tool for maintaining healthy weight. The only definite recommendation that can be made about any diet plan is to be sure it includes an exercise program, assuming there are no health problems to forbid it.
Calorie restriction has been the cornerstone of obesity treatment. The standard dietary recommendations for losing weight are as follows:
- As a rough rule of thumb, one pound of body fat is the result of eating about 3,500 calories. A person could lose a pound a week by reducing daily caloric intake by about 500 calories a day. Naturally, the more severe the daily calorie restriction, the faster the weight loss. Very-low calorie diets have also been associated with better success, but extreme diets can have some serious health consequences.
- To determine your daily calories requirements, multiply the number of pounds of ideal weight by 12 - 15 calories. The number of calories per pound depends on gender, age, and activity levels. For instance, a 50-year old woman who wants to maintain a weight of 135 pounds and is mildly active might require only 12 calories per pound (1,620 calories a day). A 25-year old female athlete who wants to maintain the same weight might need 25 calories per pound 2,025 (calories a day).
- Fat intake should be no more than 30% of total calories. Most fats should be in the form of monounsaturated fats (such as olive oil). Saturated fats (found in animal products) should be avoided.
Review Date: 04/14/2010
Reviewed By: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital (4/14/2010).