Using the Pyramid to Lose Weight
MyPyramid is designed to create an eating plan that balances calories in and calories out -- a plan that will maintain your current weight. To lose weight, you can tweak that plan in several ways, experts say.
- Cut back slightly on serving sizes. If your MyPyramid plan includes a 6-ounce glass of orange juice, for example, cut back to half a glass and you'll save 52 calories a day.
- Don't spend all your discretionary calories. MyPyramid allocates a certain number of "discretionary calories" for sweets and treats. That's important, since diets that force people to say no to treats usually don't work. But you don't have to use all your discretionary calories. Skipping a treat now and then will further reduce your caloric intake.
- Establish a sensible "first step" weight goal. Let's say you currently weight 185 pounds. Instead of entering your actual weight in MyPyramid, enter a sensible goal you'd like to reach on your way to a healthy weight -- 175 pounds for example. The program will automatically recalculate your eating plan, reducing its calorie content. Once you've reached your goal, you can enter a new goal. It's always wise, if you plan to lose a significant amount of weight, to talk to your doctor first.
- Be more active. Physical activity burns calories. Your body burns roughly twice as many calories during a brisk walk as it does sitting on a sofa. If you follow the pyramid eating plan but burn an additional 500 calories in exercise, chances are you'll slowly lose weight. By exercising more, you can eat more -- a trade-off many dieters are happy to make.
Healthy Weight Loss You Can Live With
The secret behind the Pyramid Diet isn't revolutionary. Indeed, it's based on what researchers have long agreed is the only way to lose weight: consume fewer calories than you expend.
And it still requires commitment and concentration. "Even with MyPyramid you still have to be careful to watch portion sizes and make sure foods don't contain added sugar or fats," says Krebs-Smith. "When the program recommends 3 cups of milk, for instance, that's based on skim milk. Half of the recommended servings of grains are meant to be whole grains."
Following the Pyramid diet, in other words, will require most people to make changes in the way they eat. But unlike many fad diets, they are all changes for the better.