You can lose weight by eating less and gaining more in the New Year. Another person will likely tell you that one pound of fat equals roughly 3,500 calories. Therefore, you can simply cut out those calories from your weekly meal plan and watch the scale drop.
However, anyone who has ever been disappointed by the scale’s results — even after following these weight loss methods — will tell you there is more. First, not all calories are equal.
What you need to know about nutrition
According to Erin PalinskiWade, R.D. author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies, “Calories are important when it comes to weight maintenance and weight loss.” Your [basal] metabolism rate and your level of physical activity will determine how much energy you use each day.
Palinski-Wade explains that your basal metabolic rate, or how much energy you use, is determined by how many calories you consume during digestion. She explains that a calorie taken from an easy-to-digest food, such as soda, can be easily converted into energy so your body doesn’t have to work as hard. A calorie from a lean protein, or resistant starch, such as the fiber found in beans and lentils is more difficult for the body. Palinski-Wade states that this means more energy will be used up during digestion, which can increase the amount of calories burned during the day.
This is how it works: Your body will need 100 calories to digest a 1,600-calorie diet rich in simple sugars. If those 1,600 calories are made up of fiber and protein-rich food, you’ll consume closer to 300 calories as you digest. She says that a difference in calorie intake can have a significant impact on your body’s weight over time.
You can also influence your hunger or satisfaction by the calories you eat. This is a good example: Simple sugars are easy to digest and your body can get more quickly. It’s the reason you still feel hungry even after you have downed a handful of M&Ms. You’ll feel constantly hungry and unsatisfied if you do this all the time. This can cause you to eat more calories than you burn. It will also impact your ability to lose weight long-term, PalinskiWade states.
The Exercise Equation
Weight loss is not just about nutrition. Fitness is also important. To prevent the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults exercise at a moderate intensity for 150-300 minutes or 2.5 to five hours per week. While this is a good starting point, it’s not enough to help you lose weight. Carrie Dorr, founder and CEO of PureBarre, and Life Smart by Carrie Dorr, are two holistic wellness platforms that offer a way to burn more calories than you consume.
She says, “I see weight loss as a mathematical equation.” “If your body burns more calories at rest than it does while you exercise, then you will lose weight.”
It’s important to find workouts that will increase your metabolism so you can continue burning calories even after you’re done exercising. This is known as excess post-oxygen consumption (or EPOC) and high-intensity intermittent training (HIIT), is a popular method to get your body to this after-burn state. This workout is also very popular, even though it’s intense, and often quite short, making it ideal for busy women who are always on the move.
Dorr insists that this is not the only way to go. She says that a combination of strength training and aerobic exercise is the best way to lose weight, as well as improve overall health.
The bottom line
Palinski-Wade states that in order to answer the question, “How many calories should you eat to lose weight?”, it is important to know your total caloric intake and needs. It is widely accepted that the Harris-Benedict formula is the best way to do this. First, you will need to determine your basal metabolic rate (or BMR). This can be calculated by entering your age, weight, and height into the calculator. Next, select your daily activity level (sedentary or extra active) and then follow the equation. This will tell you how many calories you’ll need to maintain your weight. This number will allow you to adjust your diet accordingly in order to lose weight.
Palinski-Wade suggests that you “focus on a healthy, balanced diet rich in fiber, plant fats, and lean protein to increase satiety.” This will help you control your portion sizes and reduce weight, while still consuming nutrients that are good for your health. ChooseMyPlate.gov can be used to find out more about the five food groups that are considered the foundation of a healthy diet. This information is based on recommendations by the United States Department of Agriculture.
As a general rule, fill half your plate with fruits, vegetables, one-quarter with protein, the remainder with whole grains. You can finish it off with a glass milk or yogurt. No calorie counting required.