When it comes to weight loss, there are dozens of strategies. Some plans require you to cut out carbohydrates while others urge you to reduce your fat intake. Still others suggest that you can lose weight by eating foods in particular combinations. When it comes down to it, though, the only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume. The most basic way to accomplish this is to follow a low-calorie diet. If you’re ready to get started, here are your options.
There are some low-calorie diet plans that provide prepackaged meals that are low in fat and calories. If you only eat the foods provided and any other approved foods, you will stay well within a low calorie range for your body type and lifestyle. Two of the most popular of these diet plans are NutriSystem and Jenny Craig.
While each of these plans and others like them provide a great deal of convenience, they also cost significantly more than making your own low-calorie meals at home.
Meal replacements keep your caloric intake low by having you replace two meals per day with a high-nutrient, low-calorie food or drink. Your third meal and any snacks consist of regular food but it is recommended that they be light and healthy to maximize weight loss. Well-known meal replacement plans include Slim-Fast, the Cookie Diet and the Special K Diet.
Meal replacement plans are convenient and, when followed, practically guarantee success. They can be expensive, though, and you run the risk of regaining weight when you resume eating normally.
Weight Watchers is in a class all its own because while it requires no special foods, it does require membership. Weight Watchers uses a point system that values foods based on calories, fat, carbs and fiber. You are allowed a particular number of points per day depending upon your caloric needs.
Weight Watchers is simple to use and is flexible enough that you can eat anything you want–provided it falls within your point range. Membership costs money, though, and it takes a certain amount of effort to calculate and keep track of your points.
This one doesn’t cost a dime and you can do it from the comfort of your own home. Consult your doctor or an online calculator to find out your recommended daily caloric intake. This number will almost never be less than 1,200 and may be considerably more, depending upon your weight, activity level and dietary needs. Then use a calorie counter book or website to track the calories in every single bite of food you eat.
Counting calories yourself is inexpensive and doesn’t require special foods or memberships. However, it takes a fair amount of effort and discipline to consistently track your own calorie consumption.