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Weight Loss & Diet Plans

What Your Doctor Is Trying to Tell You About Weight Loss

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To help you lose weight, your doctor might have said things like, "Get more exercise," "Cut back on calories," or "Eat less junk." It's all good advice -- but what exactly does it mean? How much exercise should you do? How many calories do you need to stop eating in order to shed pounds?

Learn how to turn your doctor’s well-meaning, yet sometimes vague, strategies into real steps you can start taking today.

The Advice: ‘Get Down to a Healthy Weight’

What It Means: For you, gauging a healthy weight might be about how your clothes fit (like whether you can still squeeze into your favorite pair of jeans). For your doctor, getting to a healthy weight has more to do with lowering your odds of getting conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Keeping an eye on your weight is important. Although some studies have found you can be both overweight and healthy, other researchers say that if the numbers on the scale are high, your health is at risk.

Yet stepping on your bathroom scale alone won't tell you if you're at a healthy weight, since it doesn't take your height into account. At 150 pounds, you're overweight if you measure 5 feet 2 inches tall, but just right if you're 6 feet 2 inches.

A more accurate measure is your body mass index (BMI), which calculates your weight in relation to your height. A BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 is healthy. 

BMI isn't perfect. It doesn't consider how muscular you are, or where your fat is located. So also check your waist circumference. A woman's waist should measure 35 inches or less, and a man's should be 40 inches or less around. Together, your waist size and BMI can give you a good guide to how much you need to trim.

The Advice: ‘Lose 1 to 2 Pounds a Week’

What It Means: Not sure how to get to those numbers? Well, think of it this way: One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. To lose a pound, you need to shave off about 500 calories a day for 7 days. 

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