When people think about losing weight, getting more exercise is usually what comes to mind. However, exercise alone is almost never sufficient. A healthy and controlled diet is an essential factor in losing weight and keeping the weight off.

Starting a Healthy Diet

The most efficient way to start a healthy diet is by following a structured meal plan. Weekly meal preparations, popular with athletes and bodybuilders, are effective ways to keep track of what you eat. Prepare all your food for a week and pack them into sealed containers and refrigerate. You can then heat them or microwave them when mealtime comes along. Pre-packed meals ensure that you are taking the right amount of calories for your specific dietary needs. Of course, if you don’t have time for weekly meal prep or eating the same food for days seems unappealing, multiple food services can tailor your menu to a particular diet and deliver it right to your doorstep or wherever you might be.

Choosing from Different Diets

There are multiple diet types that people swear by. Low-carb, low-fat, ketogenic, vegan, vegetarian, south beach, varieties of Atkin’s, and more—all of these diets work by limiting calorie consumption. There can be differences in what foods to eat, but limiting calories is the core of all successful diets. If your regular caloric intake is at 3,500, reducing it to 3,000 will ensure that you will lose weight. Choose a menu that fits you or just cut your caloric intake.

woman with tape measure wrapped around her belly

Exercise for Toning, Not Weight Loss

Exercise is good for toning your muscles, but without a healthy diet, all can be for nought. You’ll need an hour of cycling to burn two pizza slices’ worth of calories, and a single cheeseburger can negate all your efforts in the gym. Exercise also loses some of its efficacy once your body adjusts to the activity. You’ll need to continuously adjust and increase your intensity or lengthen your exercise sessions to continue losing weight. There’s also no such thing as targeted weight loss. No matter how many sit-ups you perform, you’ll only be strengthening your abdominals and not losing that belly fat.

Food Traps to Avoid

Impulses or seemingly inconsequential food choices can derail a healthy diet. Avoid soda, energy drinks, and other sugary drinks. These drinks can add hundreds of calories and having just one throughout the day is one too many. Snacking is also another thing to avoid. A serving of nachos or a bag of chips can contain up to 200 calories, and the salt content of those chips will increase your water weight. Eating with your friends can pose problems as you have less control over what you eat when eating out. Try to avoid fast-food restaurants and stick to protein and vegetables while avoiding carbs.

In the end, getting to your ideal weight can lead to a healthier, longer, and more satisfying life. You should ditch your unhealthy eating habits and start a diet that can lead you to your goals.