The 411 on Calories

Are you eating more calories than you need? In this article, I’m giving
you the skinny on calories and how they relate to your weight. If
you’ve ever wondered what calories are and what they have to do with
weight loss, then you don’t want to miss this discussion.

In order to lose weight and maintain that loss in the
long-run, you must first understand that the key to weight loss is
simply a net loss of calories. Weight gain is generally a result of
consuming more calories than your body spends. In other words, your
weight is a direct result of the amount of calories you put into it
(unless you have a medical condition, such as congestive heart failure,
that causes your weight to fluctuate due to fluid gains and losses).

Calories
are energy for your body much like gas is fuel for a car; your body
requires a certain number of calories to work just like your car
requires a certain amount of gas to run. The difference is that if you
put too much gas in your car, the gas would simply run out of the tank
and pour out onto the ground, whereas if you put more calories into
your body than it needs, it stores those extra calories as fat. Your
body was created to survive so that if faced with a famine or shortage
in food supply, you would have the ability to use those fat stores for
energy. Fortunately (or unfortunately), in America, most of us have
access to an abundance of food, so very few of us would ever need to
call upon our fat stores to save us from starvation. So, as we pour in
unnecessary calories without burning them in physical activity, our
bodies become fatter. The goal in weight loss, therefore, is to achieve
a net loss of calories by consuming fewer calories in the foods we
choose and spending more calories in physical activity.

If you
liken the concept of weight loss to a “fat” bank account that you are
trying to empty, think of calories as money. The only way to lessen the
money in your bank account is to either put less in or take more out. I
would suggest both. In other words, you will need to start putting
fewer calories into your body and start spending more calories in
regular physical activity. It takes a net loss of 3500 calories to lose
a pound of fat, whether that net loss is achieved by cutting caloric
intake or by increasing calories spent in physical activity. For
example, if you were to cut 300 unnecessary calories per day from your
diet and spend an extra 200 calories in activity (a total of 500
calories per day), you would lose approximately 1 pound per week (500
calories per day times 7 days per week).

You may be wondering how
many calories you should be eating in a day. You may also be thinking
that if the key to weight loss is simply a net loss in calories, why
not cut way back and follow a very low-calorie diet with 800 or 1000
calories per day? For one, following a very low-calorie diet is a
quick-fix weight loss method and one that you cannot maintain
long-term. Also, when you go from a high calorie diet, such as 3500
calories or more per day down to 1000 calories per day, your body
assumes that you must be facing a famine and potential starvation, so
it lowers your metabolism to conserve energy as long as possible.

Also
consider that if you currently consume 3500 calories per day and you
cut back to 2500, you will (theoretically) lose 2 pounds per week (a
net loss of 1000 calories per day x 7 days per week = 7000 calories,
divided by 3500 calories per pound of fat = 2 pounds of fat per week).
All you need to do is cut out 500-1000 unnecessary calories from your
current diet in order to lose 1-2 pounds per week. That’s much less
painful than trying to follow an impossibly restrictive low-calorie
diet.

Article Tags:
Weight Loss, More Calories, Unnecessary Calories, Physical Activity, 3500 Calories, Low-calorie Diet, 1000 Calories