Balanced Diet and Exercise Are Key For Sustained Weight Loss
People lose weight when they achieve a negative energy balance; a state that occurs when fewer calories are taken in than are burned up through activities of daily life. There are two ways to create a negative energy balance. One is to eat fewer calories by dieting. The other is to burn more calories through exercise. Most people achieve lasting weight loss by combining both of these approaches.
Diets that result in long term weight loss work because they reduce calories sufficiently to slowly reduce body weight. A pound or two a week is considered to be the fastest, safe rate to lose weight. Generally this result is achieved by removing between 500 to 1000 calories from one's daily diet and exercising strenuously enough to add a several hundred calorie deficit on top of that. It is not advisable to reduce caloric intake to less than 1200 calories per day unless one is being medically supervised. If one has the patience, it is possible to make less drastic cuts in calories so as to reduce weight at a slower rate. Weight lost more slowly in the context of a balanced, nutritional diet tends to stay off better because the weight loss is due to lifestyle changes that one can continue more or less indefinitely.
As people reach their weight loss goals, it is vitally important that they transition themselves to a maintainance diet that is nutritionally balanced and supplied in reasonable portions (if they haven't done so already), and that they begin an exercise program (if they haven't started one already). When one's overall diet is sound, and one's exercise program is burning off unnecessary calories, it will not matter if the ocassional treat (a piece of birthday cake, a steak, or a holiday meal) passes one's lips.