Health

Healthy Weight, Calculator, and More

Remember that BMI is a calculation using your weight and your height. Adults who need to decrease their BMI must lose weight, because their height is fixed.

You can help lower your BMI by taking the following steps.

Make smart food choices. Several diets are at your disposal to help you take off extra pounds. But in general, eating more low-calorie, high-fiber foods such as nonstarchy vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains is a tried-and-true way to lower your body weight.

The USDA Dietary Guidelines suggest that variety, nutrient density, and portion sizes are important. For optimal health overall, limit added sugars, unhealthy fat, sodium, and alcohol. Think 10–10–2,300 for these food groups: added sugars less than 10 percent of your total calorie intake, saturated fat less than 10 percent, and sodium less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day.

Exercise regularly. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (such as playing tennis or walking) per week, plus strength training twice a week.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About Fitness

Get adequate sleep. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Chronic lack of sleep or poor sleep quality may increase your risk for poor health outcomes, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Manage stress well. Stress is impossible to avoid completely, and not all stress is bad. But chronic stress causes strain on the body, which can increase your risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, as well as mental disorders like anxiety and depression, according to Mayo Clinic.

Stress management tips include regular exercise; yoga or mindfulness meditation; emotional support through friends and family; and having an open conversation with your healthcare team about your mental health, according to the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Eat out less and cook more at home. Research shows that eating at home typically results in a reduction of sugar, fat, and overall calories. Not only is it healthier, but you’ll likely save money by eating in rather than ordering out. Make a realistic goal of eating a meal at home just one to two days more than you do now. Keep the meals simple, and aim for at least three food groups per meal (such as whole grains, lean protein, and vegetables). A meal such as a chicken breast with brown rice and a side salad can be pulled together in less than 30 minutes.

RELATED: When You Go on a Diet, Your Spouse Loses Weight, Too, Study Suggests

Let’s face it: Losing weight is hard — and keeping it off is even harder. Many of us want that quick fix, which is why fad diets that promise quick weight loss are so tempting. But most people put on weight over a long period, so losing it may take some time as well. Gradual, practical changes to your diet and daily routine can ultimately lead to the long-lasting results you’re seeking. And if you need help, reach out to your primary care doctor or find help from a nutritionist skilled in weight loss support.

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