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It isn’t enough to simply cut calories or exercise a little more than usual. This can help with weight loss, but in order to achieve maximum results, you’ll need to follow proper nutrition plans, including adding protein and fiber and limiting processed foods.

Calorie Consumption

The first step to losing weight is to eat fewer calories than you burn each day. For weight loss of between one and two pounds per week, you need to eat 500 to 1,000 fewer calories than you use. This can be accomplished either by exercising more, eating less or a combination of the two. However, women shouldn’t go below 1,200 calories per day and men shouldn’t eat less than 1,800 calories per day or they risk slowing down their metabolism, which can in turn slow down any weight loss.

The Importance of Protein

Not only how much you eat, but also what you eat makes a difference when it comes to weight loss. Eating plenty of protein can help increase weight loss and also help you feel less hungry even when you’re eating fewer calories overall. This doesn’t mean eating only protein, however, as both carbohydrates and fat are important for good health. Aim for about 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal, as this is what current research shows helps improve weight loss. Getting enough protein in your diet also increases the effects of exercise on weight loss, and makes it possible for the body to increase muscle mass due to exercising. Adding more muscle makes it so that the body burns more calories even at rest because it takes about three times as many calories to maintain a pound of muscle as it does to maintain a pound of fat.

The Importance of Fiber

Another essential nutrient for weight loss is fiber. As with protein, fiber helps you feel full for longer, making it easier to eat less. Not all of the calories from fiber are absorbed, so eating fiber-rich foods also helps limit overall calorie consumption. Aim for at least 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 30 grams per day for men. Fiber also helps limit the risk of digestive problems, such as constipation, which can be a problem for people following a very-low-carbohydrate diet. It’s found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts.

Figuring Out What to Eat

In general, it’s best to limit processed foods, fatty foods, sugary foods and foods made with refined grains and eat more whole foods, such as lean protein sources, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy. The USDA recommends the plate method for determining the proper portions of food to get the nutrition you need. Simply divide the plate into four equal sections and put fruits in one, non-starchy vegetables in another, whole grains or starchy vegetables in the third and a lean protein food in the last section. Good examples of lean protein sources include fish, seafood, legumes, low-fat dairy, skinless poultry and the leaner cuts of beef or pork. Speaking with nutrition experts at Relentless or taking nutrition classes can help you come up with an individualized diet and nutrition plans to help with weight loss.

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