How Much Sugar Should I Consume Daily To Lose Weight 5 Magic Numbers Every Dieter Needs to Know

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5 Magic Numbers Every Dieter Needs to Know

Does this sound familiar? You’ve been watching yourself all week (avoiding junk, skipping seconds), and still your weight is exactly the same as it was a week ago—or worse, even up a pound or two. It is difficult to remember that weight loss is a long-term process, you have to be patient. But I’ve learned that focusing on just your weight can sabotage your motivation. So instead, here are five other numbers to think about. Keep track of these and your overall health (as well as your weight) should improve.

1. Waist circumference

By now you’ve probably heard enough experts blast BMI (body mass index or a ratio of your weight to your height) and say that it’s not a good measure of body fat and health. Instead, you should know how many centimeters your waist measures. That’s because the fat that accumulates around your middle is linked to a host of health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even death. A 2010 study surveyed more than 100,000 Americans age 50 and older and found that people with the largest waist sizes were about twice as likely to die as the slimmest.

Talk to know: Aim for less than 35 inches for women and 40 for men.

2. Daily calorie requirement

Our health book editor loves to point out the one thing the most successful weight loss programs have in common: They cut calories. Why? Chances are you’re eating a lot more than you realize or need.

Number to know: Most not-too-active middle-aged women should consume about 1,600 calories per day to lose weight; men should consume 2,000 to 2,200. Try the Mayo Clinic’s calorie calculator tool to get a personalized guess that takes age, activity level and other factors into account.

3. Daily fiber intake

You probably scan food labels for calorie and fat content. But if I asked you how much fiber you eat every day, I bet you wouldn’t know (and it’s probably half of what you should be getting). The great thing about fiber and weight loss is that it takes your body a long time to digest it compared to other nutrients. This curbs hunger pangs and prevents blood sugar spikes. You know how you can feel ravenous an hour after eating a jumbo plain bagel? It’s probably because your meal didn’t have fiber.

Number to know: Many experts recommend 25 to 35 grams a day (a medium apple and a cup of oatmeal, for example, have four each); some would love to see us eat even more. Most adults get about 15 grams a day. If you are quite low on fiber intake, add it slowly to avoid feeling bloated.

4. How much you sleep

Sleep helps the body regulate complex hormonal processes that affect our appetite, cravings and weight. There is now ample research showing that people who get less sleep are more likely to be overweight and to munch on junk food than those who get more. Skimping on sleep can sabotage your diet as much as Snickers calling your name from the office candy bowl.

Number to know: If you’re consistently getting six hours or less, your sleep habits may be tampering with your weight loss goals. Most adults need seven to eight hours a night. A good clue that you’re getting enough: not needing an alarm clock to wake up.

5. How many steps do you take each day

More and more research shows that it’s not the hour we spend sweating it out in the gym that counts, but all the incremental activity that counts throughout the day from things like taking the stairs, walking to a colleague’s desk instead of sending e-mails, or standing and walking while chatting on the phone. Sitting down is bad for your body and your metabolism – our hunter-gatherer ancestors were constantly on the move, which is why we’ve evolved not to sit still for hours on end.

Number to know: The magic pedometer (which you can learn by wearing a pedometer) is 10,000 per day. Most inactives get 2,000 or less.

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