We wanted to know what these studies found and, most importantly, when all the science and evidence were boiled down, what experts recommend for people who would like to shed pounds in a safe, healthy manner. As we'll describe in detail below, a successful weight loss program usually involves cutting back on your calories, increasing your physical activity and making behavioral changes to help you stick with a diet and exercise regimen over the long term. Though science has yet to establish a surefire link between obesity and each health risk, the extra fat tissue seems to be the biggest culprit. If your BMI places you in the obese category, it's time to lose weight, according to the most recent (2013) weight management guidelines from the American Heart Association and other professional organizations. The 2013 guidelines were put together by an expert panel from the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and the Obesity Society, and were reviewed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
People who are normal weight, or overweight and do not have any additional risk factors for heart disease, should focus on avoiding weight gain, rather than losing weight, the guidelines say, because there is no strong evidence that weight loss provides health benefits for these people. Obese people who lose as little as 3 to 5 percent of their body weight improve their health. To accomplish this weight loss, most experts interviewed by Live Science recommended that you shed 0.5 to 2 lbs. To figure out how many calories to consume, you may want to use a calculator, such as the National Institutes of Health Body Weight Planner, which takes into account your current weight and activity level to determine how many calories a day are needed to maintain your current weight and how many are needed to achieve your desired weight loss. Over the long term, severely restrictive diets tend to result in about the same amount of weight loss as diets that are less restrictive, said Robert Jeffery, director of the University of Minnesota Obesity Prevention Center. For example, researchers reviewed data from six trials of very-low-calorie diets (fewer than 800 calories a day) and found that, after about 26 weeks, participants lost 16 percent of their initial body weight, whereas participants on a typical low-calorie diet (1,000 to 1,800 calories a day) lost about 10 percent of their body weight. The study is notable because it looked at data from clinical trials that directly compared very-low-calorie diets with typical low-calorie diets, which is a better method than looking at studies that do not involve a comparison, and instead include only a single diet. Even the weight you lose on these restrictive diets may not be the right kind of weight, as cutting too many calories can cause you to lose muscle instead of fat, said Dr.
Finally, any adult diet that allows fewer than 800 calories per day can be harmful and should only be undertaken under the supervision of a medical professional, according to the 2013 guidelines. It's important to have realistic expectations for weight loss with a reduced-calorie diet over the long term.
People can lose weight on a number of different diets, as long as they consume fewer calories than they burn. A successful plan for weight loss is often one that is tailored to an individual's lifestyle and other personal factors. Though not foolproof, a low-glycemic diet that's chock-full of protein, fiber and healthy oils, and low in starches and other sugars, may help combat feelings of hunger.
Liz Applegate, director of sports nutrition at the University of California, Davis, said she recommends a diet that is about 20 percent protein (about 60 to 70 grams, or 2 to 2.5 ounces, per day), spread across all three meals. Applegate also encourages people not to skip meals, because that deprivation often causes people to overeat later in the day.
Still, studies on this type of dieting are limited, and more research is needed to confirm the findings, the researchers said.
As for commercial weight loss programs, the most effective programs are in-person ones, where people regularly meet with a trained health professional, according to the 2013 guidelines. Miller and his colleagues reviewed 25 years' worth of weight loss research and found that, during a typical 15-week weight loss program, people lost, on average, 23 lbs. As for how strenuous the exercise has to be, experts recommend that people who want to lose weight meet the government's guidelines of at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as brisk walking) every week, or about 30 minutes a day for five days a week.
But those who want to maintain weight loss over the long term may need to do more exercise. The National Institutes of Health also recommends resistance training to strengthen muscles at least twice a week. Weight loss supplements send more than 4,600 people to the emergency room every year, often due to heart symptoms, such as chest pain and a rapid heart rate, according to an estimate by a study published in October 2015.
The bottom line, many experts told Live Science, is that there is often no scientific evidence supporting a supplement's claims.
However, Cohen cautioned that the long-term safety of weight loss drugs hasn't been studied. In any case, weight loss drugs may not be a long-term method for keeping weight off, because people may regain the weight when they stop taking the drugs, Cohen said. The longest-running study on the link between short sleep and weight gain followed about 68,000 women for 16 years.
Getting too little sleep, which most experts define as less than 7 hours of shut-eye per night, may increase levels of an appetite-stimulating hormone called ghrelin, and decrease levels of the hormone leptin, which makes you feel full, according to the NIH.


Bariatric surgery, an operation on the stomach and intestine used to treat obesity, may be an option for people who are still severely obese after attempting to lose weight through other methods, such as diet and exercise. People who have bariatric surgery will still need to make lifestyle changes, including following a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise, to lose weight and keep it off. A 2009 study that reviewed outcomes for more than 11,000 bariatric surgery patients found that patients typically lost about 56 percent of their excess body weight, or nearly 85 lbs. The surgery alters the gut's ability to absorb nutrients, so you may need to take vitamins and minerals, to prevent malnutrition. You will need to eat liquid or pureed foods for several weeks following the surgery, according to the Mayo Clinic. To assist any weight loss effort, weigh yourself twice a week, continue the lower-calorie approach indefinitely and exercise at least 200 minutes per week, according to the 2013 guidelines.
In a nutshell, the bulk of the evidence says that maintaining your weight loss is achievable if you do the following: keep up your healthy diet, continue to exercise and monitor your weight so you notice when your regimen needs adjusting.
While these changes might not lead to drastic amounts of weight loss in short periods, they can produce healthy, gradual weight loss that will counter the natural tendency for people to gain weight as they age, Cohen said.
More fat in the neck has been tied to sleep apnea, while compounds released by fat cells may increase the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Risks go up as a person climbs this BMI ladder, with numbers between 25 and 29.9 considered overweight, and BMIs of 30 or greater considered obese, according to the NIH. For example, people with a high amount of muscle mass can have a high BMI without being overweight or obese. Weight loss is also recommended if you're overweight and have other risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, or a waist circumference greater than 35 inches (88 centimeters) for women and 40 inches (102 centimeters) for men.
Research suggests that losing 5 percent of body weight results in a 3-mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading, which is a measure of the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats) and a 2-mmHg drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in a blood pressure reading, which is a measure of the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats), according to the 2013 guidelines.
You might see a rapid weight loss at first, but you'll likely regain much of the weight.
But after about two years, both groups retained about the same amount of weight loss — around 5 to 6 percent of their initial body weight, according to the 2012 study. Louis Aronne, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at Weill-Cornell Medical College in New York. People who follow such a diet may experience dehydration, irregular periods (for women), kidney infections and even sudden death, among other health problems, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
McManus and her colleagues found that the breakdown of calories from protein, fat and carbohydrates doesn't matter for weight loss. For instance, just replacing an unhealthy snack every day with fruits and vegetables, or eliminating an evening snack, can result in weight loss, said Katherine Tallmadge, a registered dietitian and an op-ed contributor to Live Science. A recent study, published in October 2015, found that people on a low-fat diet lost about the same amount of weight as people on diets with more of their calories from fat.
This recommendation agrees with findings from a study of people in the National Weight Control Registry who have lost at least 30 lbs. In particular, studies show that people who skip breakfast tend to weigh more than people who eat a healthy morning meal, according to the NIH. This diet is generally not recommended, but early research suggests that some people may find it easier to follow this diet than a traditional one, Tallmadge said. People should look for a program that lets them meet with a registered dietitian, psychologist, exercise specialist or health counselor at least 14 times over a six-month period, the guidelines say.
A 2008 study of the National Weight Control Registry involving 3,600 people who lost at least 30 lbs. These activities include lifting weights and doing push-ups and crunches, which can help build muscle.
The makers of diet supplements do not need to prove that their supplements actually help people lose weight in order to sell them in stores. However, these drugs still need to be used along with diet and exercise for people to achieve this level of weight loss. Most of the studies look at these drugs' safety after just one year, he said, and some earlier drugs that were approved by the FDA were later taken off the market because of their side effects. A growing body of evidence suggests that getting insufficient sleep increases the risk of obesity.
People with a BMI of 40 or greater, or those with a BMI of 35 or greater who also have obesity-related health conditions (such as type 2 diabetes), are candidates for this invasive surgery, according to the NIH.
Many studies show that people usually experience their maximum weight loss after about six months of a diet-and-exercise program.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you make a plan for how to keep up your healthy eating pattern, even on weekends, vacations and special occasions.
In a 2002 National Weight Control Registry study of nearly 3,000 people who kept off 30 lbs. She has a masters degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. Weight loss shouldn't be about deprivation, because diets that deprive people of their favorite foods tend to be short-lived, said Dr. The adult obesity rate in 2013-2014 was the highest ever for the nation, and equates to more than 78 million people. In addition, the more body fat a person carries, the more blood is needed to provide the tissue with oxygen and nutrients, resulting in higher blood pressure.
Losing even more weight is associated with greater health benefits, so the guidelines recommend that people start out with a goal of losing 5 to 10 percent of their body weight over six months. However, the number of calories you should consume can vary depending on your current weight and activity level.
In that way, people on a low-glycemic diet may feel more satisfied while cutting back on overall calories and thus may be more likely to stick with the diet.
A review study published in April 2015 found that people on intermittent-fasting diets lost about 9 percent of their body weight over six months, and about 80 percent of the participants were able to stick with the diet. If you can't attend an in-person program, some studies show that programs that use telephone calls, email or text messages to provide feedback on your progress can also help with weight loss. Resistance training exercises are important for weight loss maintenance because muscle tissue requires more calories to maintain itself, meaning you will burn more calories just by having more muscle. However, most of these studies have been conducted at a single point in time, which makes it hard to determine whether a small amount of sleep was a cause or an effect of weight gain.
In one study, researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases will look at whether obese people who usually sleep less than 6.5 hours a night see changes in their weight if they increase their sleep by an hour per night.
Scientists who reviewed 89 studies on weight loss after bariatric surgery found that patients with a BMI of 40 or higher benefited most from the surgery, losing 44 to 66 lbs. After that, the pounds come creeping back, although most people don't regain all of the weight. Note that any significant change in diet should be undertaken only after consultation with a physician. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.
To get the lowdown on the latest science on weight loss, Live Science conducted a months-long search for the best information.
Afterward, people usually gain back some of that weight, so they end up with a total of 9 to 22 lbs.
An analysis of 900 people in this registry showed that about 18 to 20 percent of their daily calories came from protein. That difference may seem small, but after one year, the people who only dieted kept off 14 lbs. Supplements can contain drugs that are not listed on the label, and may have harmful side effects.
In addition, those who got 5 hours or less were 15 percent more likely to become obese during the study period than those who got at least 7 hours of sleep. For example, a 2007 review of 80 diet studies involving more than 26,000 people found that dieters lost about 11 to 19 lbs.
We contacted nearly a dozen experts who have researched weight loss, and looked at the most well-regarded studies of weight loss done to date. This would be the equivalent of eating 6 ounces of Greek yogurt at breakfast (17 grams of protein), 3 ounces of salmon for lunch (21 grams of protein) 1 ounce of nuts for a snack (7 grams of protein) and 3 ounces of chicken for dinner (19 grams of protein).
In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration identified more than 30 weight loss supplements that contained hidden drugs, but only seven of these were recalled by their manufacturers.




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