The goal of obesity treatment is to achieve and maintain a healthier weight. The amount of weight you need to lose to improve your health may be much less than what you feel you need to lose. Just a 5 – 10% percent weight loss can bring health improvements. That means that if you weigh 200 pounds and are obese by BMI standards, you would need to lose about 10 to 20 pounds. You don’t have to stop there, but it’s a place to start. Slow and steady weight loss of 1 or 2 pounds a week is considered the safest way to lose weight and the best way to keep it off.

Achieving a healthy weight is usually done through dietary changes, increased activity and behavior modification. Depending on your situation, your doctor may suggest prescription medication or weight-loss surgery to supplement these efforts. Adopting a new eating style that promotes weight loss must include lowering your total calorie intake. One way you can lower your calorie intake is by eating more plant-based foods; fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Strive for variety to help you achieve your goals without giving up taste or nutrition. Cutting back on calories is easier if you focus on limiting sugar and other refined carbohydrates and some types of fat.

Ask your doctor to help you determine your calorie goals to lose weight. He or she may recommend that you also work with a dietitian or a reputable weight-loss program. Crash diets to reduce calories aren’t recommended because they can cut so many calories and nutrients that they lead to other health problems, such as vitamin deficiencies. Most of the weight you initially lose is from water, and it’s not good for your body to go without food for extended periods.

Cutting 250 calories from your daily diet can help you lose about half a pound a week: 3,500 calories equals one pound of fat. But add a 30-minute brisk walk four days a week, and you can double your rate of weight loss. The goal of exercise for weight loss is to burn more calories, although exercise offers many other benefits as well. How many calories you burn depends on the frequency, duration and intensity of your activities. One of the best ways to lose body fat is through steady aerobic exercise — such as walking — for more than 30 minutes most days of the week.

To lose weight and keep it off, you need to make changes in your lifestyle. But there’s more to changing your lifestyle than choosing different foods and putting more activity into your day. It also involves changing your approach to eating and activity, which means changing how you think, feel and act. A behavior modification program – led by a psychologist, therapist or other trained professional – can help you make these lifestyle changes. Behavior modification programs may include examining your current habits to find out what factors or situations may have contributed to your excess weight. Exploring your current eating and exercise habits gives you a place to start when changing your behaviors.