Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Healthy Weight Loss Tips

        Health | Weight Loss

Creating a Calorie Deficit

The next step in weight loss is to determine how to create your daily calorie deficit. In order to lose weight, you need to tip the scale toward weight loss -- taking food off the "Calories In" side (eat fewer calories) and adding calories to the "Calories Out" side (burn more in physical activity). If you make adjustments on both sides of the energy-balance equation, you'll be more successful at losing weight.

And that's what the USDA Dietary Guidelines encourage you to do no matter how much weight you're trying to lose. If you only decrease calorie intake and don't increase physical activity, it will take longer for you to lose weight and you won't reap as many health benefits. One way to approach creating

a calorie deficit is to make equal adjustments on both sides

of the calorie-balance scale.

If a 500-calorie daily deficit is your goal, then you'd take in

250 fewer calories and expend 250 additional calories every day. Of course, you can balance your scale any way you'd like, and you'll probably want to make adjustments as you

lose weight and become more fit or when you encounter any lifestyle changes that alter your routine. If expending 250 calories in physical activity seems like too much at first, try eating 400 fewer calories per day and expending 100 calories a day in physical activity.

You can gradually shift the ratio as you become comfortable with the amount of physical activity in your daily routine. And on days when you can't fit in your usual amount of physical activity, simply decrease your calorie intake by the number of calories you normally expend. That's the beauty of the calorie-balance concept. You're not stuck with a rigid diet or physical activity plan. You just need to keep your daily calorie deficit goal in your sights and make sure to follow the USDA Dietary Guidelines' recommendations for healthy eating and physical activity.

A realistic weight-loss plan always involves dietary and activity changes. In the next section, we'll focus on diet and show how creating an inventory will help you monitor the calories you take in.

Genetics also play a role in your body shape, size, weight, and likelihood of having certain chronic conditions. Research suggests that genes are responsible for somewhere between 60 to 80 percent of how your body regulates weight. Genes play a major role in determining how much energy your body spends to sustain itself, your rate of metabolism, the type of appetite you have, and how your body tends to store fat. When one or two parents are obese or a sibling is obese, your chance of becoming overweight increases. Certain body types are designed to be heavier than others regardless of the steps you take. However, adopting eating and activity habits that lower your health risks are still important, regardless of how much weight you do -- or don't -- lose.

Researchers agree that even if there are obese relatives in the family, "environment" plays a major role. In this case, "environment" refers to eating and activity habits. Since genetics determine 60 to 80 percent of weight regulation, that means a whopping 20 to 40 percent is attributed to environment--the things you can control! A healthy eating plan combined with adequate physical activity may stop so-called "obesity genes" in their tracks. So even if you have overweight family members, don't despair -- you're on the right track now.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.