When you are trying to lose weight, calories can be a tricky thing. Foods with high-calorie counts are a big no-no when it comes to your diet. However, your body needs calories to produce energy. You may be thinking ‘how many calories should I eat?’ since they are so crucial to daily life.
There are ways to maintain your calorie intake to help you lose weight. To immediately start cutting carbs left and right is not one of them. This, in fact, may have adverse effects on your health overall. Being careful about what you eat and do not eat is important when you are trying to lose weight.
First, you need to figure out how many calories you burn each day. Using this, you make a ‘caloric deficit’ in order to know how many calories you really do need to intake. Keeping track of your progress is just as important, so you know how you are doing and if you need to make any changes. This will help you answer an important question: How many calories should I eat to lose weight?
Calories and You
The unit of measurement referred to as the calorie is what your body uses to power the processes that it goes through every day. The amount of calories you eat and what you do with them have a great impact on your weight. If you eat many calories and do not work them off in some way, you are likely to gain weight.
However, calories are not bad for you. They are a way to calculate how much energy your body will be getting from eating and drinking. The more calories you decide to cut the less energy your body will have to perform its tasks. When that happens, your body will start to burn fat.
This burning of fat is helpful weight loss but you have to be careful to prevent your body from burning off much needed muscle. Eating properly and keeping in shape helps.
Losing Weight with Calorie Management
By eating fewer calories than you burn, your body will begin to burn the fat you want to get rid of. This does not mean you should stop all calorie intakes. For obvious reasons, your body still needs calories.
Cutting calories is not the only thing you should do. It may work, but for many people, just decreasing the amount of calories does not cut it. Changing other aspects of your diet and ample exercise will help you along your weight loss journey.
Cutting calories may make you hungry, and you might want to give up. This is probably because of cutting calories with no other diet changes. Protein can reduce appetite and promote fat burning. Other changes you can make will be discussed a little later.
One thing that you want to avoid is your body burning muscle instead of fat. To prevent this from happening, keep your protein intake up and do not neglect them in your exercise regimen.
Calculate How Many Calories You Burn a Day
Before you start to cut calories, you need to find how many calories you, as an individual, burn every day. This number is called your Base Metabolic Rate (BMR). It is important to calculate this number correctly for effective weight loss and safety.
You may ask, how many calories do I need, anyway? For men, they need to intake 2500 calories to maintain current weight. With the average woman, the number is 2000. The following equation is how to find your BMR while at rest.
BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) = calories burned at rest
BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) = calories burned at rest
An easier equation can also be done if math is not your forte. It is a little less personalized, but it is simple to use.
Body weight x 14 = Total calories burned each day
This is assuming that you exercise regularly, have a sedentary job, and that your body fat is around 20%-25%. That will not prevent it from working for your, however. It is just an estimate so do not worry too much about being exact. You are always able to change your weight loss plan to accommodate anything that may happen.
Create Your Caloric Deficit
A caloric deficit is the amount of calories you should intake to stimulate the burning of fat. The basic equation to find out how many calories are for you is as follows.
Calories burned – calorie deficit = target calorie intake to lose weight
Your calorie deficit should not be chosen randomly. You may end up putting your body into starvation mode. That will lead to your body digesting muscle, which is something I have already mentioned to look out for. A careful amount of consideration and a little more math will help you figure things out when it comes to your calorie deficit.
When you have calculated how many calories you burn daily, take this number and reduce it accordingly. It is recommended to reduce your daily intake by 500 for 1 pound of weight loss. Cutting it by 1,000 would shed off 2 pounds, and so on.
However, it is not recommended to go any higher than 2 pounds a week so you do not strain your body too much.
How to Work with Your Diet
Calorie and Carb Management
Reducing your calorie intake coupled with carbohydrate reduction packs a double punch to your weight. When you cut carbs, your appetite will probably decrease, and you will automatically eat less of them.
You do not need to cut them if you do not want to, just ensure that all the carbs you are eating are quality, fiber-rich foods from whole, single ingredients items.
Drinking water is recommended for everyone. The more you drink, the more calories your body will be able to burn. 2 liters a day can help you burn about 96 more calories every day.
Drinking it at the right times is important to weight loss too. You feel less hungry when you drink it. Drinking a glass a half an hour before eating may increase your weight loss by 44%.
Being attentive about your portion sizes will help, too. Eating less food for each meal but eating more often reduces hunger cravings and allows you to have more variety in your day.
Controlling your portion size is a little more than eating less. There are certain ways to tell what an appropriate serving size is for different foods. You can use your hand to figure out how much of what you should eat.
- Fist: your fist gives you an idea of how much rice, pasta, fruit, or veggies should be in one serving. ~1 cup
- Palm: the size of the palm is how large your meat, fish, or poultry serving should be. ~3 ounces
- Handful: A handful of nuts and/or raisins are the ideal serving size. ~1 ounce
- Two handfuls: popcorn, pretzels, and chips are allowed for two handfuls. ~1 ounce
- Thumb: hard cheese and peanut butter should be in thumb-sized portions.
- Thumb tip: cooking oil, sugar, butter, and mayonnaise all fall into this category for serving sizes. ~1 teaspoon
All of these foods are quite specific so you will have to improvise with other foods. Controlling your portion size is crucial to how many calories you are getting.
Keep your eye on food labels, they tell you how much of something a portion is.
It may feel limiting, but your body will burn that fat away much more efficiently. This is helped by eating smaller meals more often, since you can follow portion sizes and not worry about being hungry in between eating time.
Even so, portion sizes can be taken somewhat lightly. Strictly following portion sizes can be limiting and you do need to get the correct amount of calories each day.
You will not find many professionals who do not recommend exercise for losing weight. Exercise not only keeps your body healthy. When combined with diet management and the motivation for weight loss, you can shed pounds much faster and healthier than just changing your diet.
Lifestyle changes are important, too. Besides exercise, try to minimize unhealthy habits such as smoking or drinking, which can both lead to weight gain. This is all for the better if you want to lose weight, your body will thank you for it.
You can find out how many calories you are burning just with exercise. Of course, it is another equation. For this one, you want to get a calculator if you did not already pull one out for the previous equations.
[(-55.09669 + (.6039 x heart rate in beats per minute) + (438 x weight in pounds) + (.2017 x age in years))] / 4.184
[(-20.4022 + (.4472 x heart rate in beats per minute) + (.278 x weight in pounds) + (.074 x age in years))] / 4.184]
After calculating this, you will know how many calories you burn while exercising. With this information, you can change your diet or workouts to better serve your weight loss plan.
Even if you only do some light cardio or yoga, getting your muscles warmed up and growing will more than likely help you get the lean results you are looking for.
Keep a Log of Your Progress
Keeping track of how much weight you are losing and how fast is something you want to be sure to do. You can see how you should improve and where you are doing well. You want to be patient about losing weight, especially this way because the most you want to be losing is 2 pounds a week.
If you lose any more than that, you are probably not getting enough nutrients. You should add more calories back to your diet. Moreover, alternatively, if you are losing less than 1 pound, you may want to tailor your calorie count as well.
This helps to validate that what you are doing is working, and that you should keep at it. There are many ways, such as pen and paper or phone apps, that you can record your progress. Make sure you understand what is going on with your body so you can best assess and make changes to your diet accordingly.
Losing weight does not have to be all about exercise. Cutting the appropriate amount of calories is super helpful to the cause. However, this alone is not enough if you want to lose a steady amount of weight.
To cut the amount of calories you ingest, you should calculate how many calories you currently burn and to choose a deficit to follow. This deficit will be your guide to your new diet and lifestyle, if you have not already begun to exercise and drink water, et cetera.
Other ways such as exercise and drinking water are not only helpful but good for your health in general. Your lifestyle affects your weight and vice versa. Engaging in healthy activity and eating is best to keep a balance.
The best way to know how you are doing with your weight loss is to track it. Whether it be on a cell phone application or a piece of paper, it is important to take a record. You will be able to tailor your diet and workout regimen to work best for you.
Here’s a quick list of steps to take when you want to start a low calorie diet. Keep the reason in mind to keep you motivated to stay on your path. Let me know what you do to lose weight and you think in the comments!
- Figure out how many calories you burn every day
- Decide on a caloric deficit
- Work with your diet
- Exercise regularly
- Drink water
- Keep the carbs in your diet limited