usa life blog america living tips

Weight Control While Living in the U.S.

It is very common for international students (F1 visa students, J1 visa students, M1 visa students) or foreign worker (H1B work visa, O1 work visa, L1 work visa, P1 work visa) to report that they have gained weight after living in the U.S.A. The most common reasons for international students or foreign workers living in the U.S.A. are (1) the type of food they are now eating in the U.S.A., and (2) not walking enough anymore because they only drive when going out.

Table of Contents

Basic Concepts of Weight Loss

Calorie Deficit

The most important concept to understand when losing weight is that you need to remember the bottom line is that you need to create a calorie deficit, meaning that the number of calories going out needs to be more than the number of calories coming into your body. In other words, if you eat less than you burn, you will lose weight. And if you eat more than you burn, you will gain weight. 

The type of food you eat doesn’t really affect your weight loss that much. For example, you burn 2000 calories each day and only ate burger and cake that added up to 1500 calories that day. You would still lose weight that day because you were still in a calorie deficit (1500-2000=-500) meaning that you ate less than what you burned. 

To find out exactly how many calories you burn each day is most likely not possible, but we can use a Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) or Total Daily Energy Expenditure calculator to help us come up with an estimation.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) & Total Daily Energy Expenditure Number (TEDEE)

First, calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and Total Daily Energy Expenditure Number (TEDEE). The Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the minimum number of calories your body needs to function properly. The Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TEDEE) is an estimated number of how many calories you actually burn each day, which can vary depending on your lifestyle. For example, if you spend most of your day sitting in front of the computer, you would have a much ­­lower TEDEE number than a basketball player who trains every day for the school’s team.  

Once you get a general idea of what your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and Total Daily Energy Expenditure Number (TEDEE) is, you should decide on how much calories you would like to eat to create the calorie deficit to lose weight.

Buy A Food Scale

To know how many calories you are eating every day, you should buy a food scale to weigh the food you eat.


Calorie Tracking App

After you decide on the maximum calories you would like to set for yourself to eat each day, you should download a calorie tracking app. You will need to commit to logging and tracking what you eat and drink each day. During your weight loss and diet period, it is best not to eat out because it would be very hard to track your calories. Cooking at home and preparing everything yourself makes it much easier to correctly track the calories that you are eating.

Most calorie tracking apps make it easy for you to log food. For example, for most food in the U.S.A., you can use the My Fitness Pal App to scan the barcode on the food package and its information will be pulled up in the app. So, you would only need to enter the weight of what you will be using after scanning the barcode on the food package. 

Try to track everything you eat and drink because sometimes things that you don’t suspect actually have very high calories. When you skip certain food, the information that you are tracking won’t be correct anymore and would be very confusing in the long run. 

Some Well-Known Calorie Tracking Apps 

More Advanced Users Can Track Macros and Nutrients

When you are more comfortable with tracking your food and calories, you can also start tracking your macros and nutrients. The macros are carbs, fat, and protein. You can view the percentage of your macros and nutrients in the My Fitness App.


Choose A diet

You can choose a type of diet if you would like, but the bottom is still the same: the calories you burn should be more than the calories you eat.

Below are some popular diets in the U.S.A.: 

  • Keto: the Keto diet is a popular but more controversial type of diet where your diet consists of around 70% of fat, around 25% of protein and 5% of carbs. 

  • Intermittent Fasting: the most popular type of intermittent fasting diet is where you only eat within a 8 hour time-period and then fast for the remaining 16 hours of the day.

Buy A Fitness Watch

An optional step is to buy a fitness watch that calculates how many steps you take and the calories you have burned through your work-outs. The numbers that the fitness watch shows can give you a general estimate of how many calories you have burned in a day and usually its app can calculate those extra calories into your calorie tracking app when synced. For example, if you went on a run that day and burned an extra 500 calories, the Fitbit app will add that to the number of calories you can eat in the My Fitness Pal App. 

Some Well-Known Fitness Watches


Weighing Yourself

Generally, you just need to weigh once a week because weight fluctuates very easily, so it is not really that beneficial to be too focused on small ups and downs. If you weigh more frequently than once or twice a week, you should take the average of the numbers as your weight.  

Also, buy a smart scale that can save your weight into the app so you don’t need to manually log it. Smart scales are now very cheap and can be bought on Amazon.


Work Out Routine

A lot of Americans put a lot of time into working-out and exercising. There are multiple ways and places where people exercise in the U.S.A.: the gym, out on the streets, park, or at home. For international students (F1 visa students, J1 visa students, M1 visa students), the gym could be your U.S. school’s gym, the gym in your apartment complex, or private gyms. Most reputable U.S. colleges have very large and expensive gyms that you should use while you are still a student. Private gyms usually require a membership fee to use. 

In addition, a lot of Americans actually go outside to run. You can see people running on the streets even in urban city areas. 

Some Well-Known Gyms in the U.S.A.

U.S.A. GYMS 美國健身房

Different type of Exercises

Working-out will help you create a larger calorie deficit to lose weight faster. There are a lot of different types of work-outs and ways to exercise. Just find one that you enjoy and can be consistent in doing.

In addition, you can also hire private trainers to train one-on-one or with a small group of friends.

Some Popular Work-Out Methods in the U.S.A.

  • Treadmill 30 Minutes, Level 12, Speed 3 Workout: this treadmill workout consists of turning the treadmills speed to 3, height to 12, and walking on it for 30 minutes. This was a viral workout routine on Tiktok.


  • HIIT Training: HIIT workouts consist of a short time period (10 to 60 seconds) of intense exercise, followed by a period of recovery time. For example, jogging for 3 minutes then running as fast as you can for 1 minute, and repeating this for a couple of times. There are a lot of variations but the concept is the same.

Weight-Training In The U.S.A.

Weight-training is very popular in the U.S.A. However, weight-training does not always result in weight-loss so you would need to do some research into what you are trying to achieve while weight-training.





Academic Students (F1 visa)

Vocational Students (M1 visa)

Students, Research Scholars, Professors, Exchange Visitors, Interns, Trainees, Foreign Medical Doctors (J1 visa)


Tourists (B2 visa)

Tourists Using ESTA (VWP visa, Visa Waiver Program)


Immigrant Visas (Green Card)

Extraordinary Ability in the Science, Art, Education, Business, Athletic field (EB1a Employment Based Green Card)

Outstanding Professors and Researchers (EB1b Employment Based Green Card)

Multinational Manager and Executive (EB1c Employment Based Green Card)

Advanced Degree or Exceptional Ability Worker (EB2 Employment Based Green Card)

Professional Workers, Skilled Workers and Other Unskilled Labor Workers (EB2 Employment Based Green Card )

Religious Workers and Special Immigrants (EB4 Employment Based Green Card)

Business Owner and Investors (EB5 Employment Based Green Card)

Nonimmigrant Visas (Temporary Visas)

Workers in Various Fields:

Temporary Business and Tourism Visitor (B1 visa & B2 visa)

Extraordinary Ability in the Science, Education, Business and Athletics field (O1A visa)

Specialty Occupation Workers (H1B Visa)

Specialty Occupation Workers for Person from Chile or Singapore (H1B1 Visa)

Specialty Occupation Workers from Australia (E3 visa)

Professional Workers from Canada and Mexico (TN Visa)

Specialized Knowledge Transferee (L1B Visa)

Temporary Skilled and Unskilled Workers (H2B Visa)

Trainees and Special Education Exchange Visitor (H3 Visa)

Business Owners or Workers in Business Related Fields:

Manager and Executive Transferee (L1A Visa)

Treaty Traders or Their Employees (E1 visa)

Treaty Investors or Their Employees (E2 visa)

Workers in Art (Entertainment) or Athletic Related Fields:

Fashion Models (H1B3 Visa)

Extraordinary ability in the Arts and Extraordinary Achievements in Motion Pictures and Television (O1B visa)

Essential Support Staff for O1B Workers (O2 visa)

Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group (P1B visa)

Reciprocal Exchange Program (P2 visa)

Culturally Unique Program (P3 visa)

Internationally Recognized Athlete (P1A visa)

Essential Support Staff for P Visa Workers (P1S/P2S/P3S visa)

Workers in Other Specific Fields:

Temporary Religious Worker (R1 visa)

Agricultural Workers (H2A Visa)

U.S. Department of Defense Workers (H1B2 Visa)


Immigrant Visas (Green Card)

Family of U.S. Green Card Holder:

Marriage to U.S. Green Card Holder (F2A Marriage Based Green Card)

Unmarried Adult Child of Green Card Holder (F2B Family Based Green Card)

Family of U.S. Citizen:

Marriage to U.S. Citizen (IR1 or CR1 Marriage Based Green Card)

Unmarried Adult Child of U.S. Citizen (F1 Family Based Green Card)

Married Children of U.S. Citizen (F3 Family Based Green Card)

Brother or Sister of U.S. Citizen (F4 Family Based Green Card)

Parents of U.S. Citizen (F5 Family Based Green Card)

Widow(er) of Deceased U.S. Citizen (EB4 Family Based Green Card)

Nonimmigrant Visas (Temporary Visas)

Foreign Fiance(e) (K1 visa)

Foreign Spouse (K3 visa)

Dependent Children of Foreign Fiance(e) (K2 visa)

Dependent Children of Foreign Spouse (K4 visa)