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The American College of Sports Medicine identifies a desirable weight loss program as one that meets the following criteria:

Provides intake not lower than 1200 kcal/day for normal adults and allows a proper distribution of foods to meet nutritional requirements.

Provides a negative caloric balance (not to exceed 500 to 1000 kcal/day) resulting in gradual weight loss.

Includes an exercise program that promotes a daily caloric expenditure of more than 300 kcal.

The National Weight Control Registry found that 80% of people who lost 30 or more pounds and kept it off for at least one year accomplished their goals through a combination of diet and exercise- only 10% succeeded using diet alone and only 1% using exercise alone. See our previous blog post  Successful Losers for more details on what actually works.