The Best Way to Lose Weight Safely

The formula for losing weight is simple: Eat fewer calories than you burn. But the methods of doing this can vary. In truth, there is no one “best” way to lose weight — what works for you might not work for someone else. To get the lowdown on the latest science on weight loss, Live Science conducted a months-long search for the best information. We contacted nearly a dozen experts who have researched weight loss, and looked at the most well-regarded studies of weight loss done to date.

Slim woman after diet.

We wanted to know what these studies found and, most importantly, when all the science and evidence were boiled down, what experts recommend for people who would like to shed pounds in a safe, healthy manner. All of the experts emphasized one thing: A person’s approach to weight loss should be one that is enjoyable and can be maintained over the long term. Weight loss shouldn’t be about deprivation, because diets that deprive people of their favorite foods tend to be short-lived, said Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and general internist at Cambridge Health Alliance.

People should focus on making lifestyle changes — sometimes even small ones, like cutting down on the sugar in coffee — to reduce their overall calorie intake. While these changes might not lead to drastic amounts of weight loss in short periods, they can produce healthy, gradual weight loss that will counter the natural tendency for people to gain weight as they age, Cohen said.

As we’ll describe in detail below, a successful weight loss program usually involves cutting back on your calories, increasing your physical activity and making behavioral changes to help you stick with a diet and exercise regimen over the long term.

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