Obesity has become a common sight especially as many have turned towards processed and instant food to fill themselves up. This trend is causing unnecessary and unhealthy weight gain all over the world especially in highly developed countries such as the U.S.
The statistics say obesity is higher among middle age adults, 40-59 years old (39.5%) than among younger adults, age 20-39 (30.3%) or adults over 60 or above (35.4%) adults. This shows how rare it is to maintain a healthy weight as you age and if you find yourself within the “older” bracket don’t be discouraged; you’ve got a lot of friends who experience the same thing which is why we’re here to help each other.
A calorie is a unit of heat or energy and we get our calories from the food we eat. Roughly speaking, knowing how many calories you eat per day helps determine the probable amount of weight you will lose during a certain period of time. That is if you know what you’re doing.
Counting calories is one of the best ways to have full control on how much weight you plan to lose or gain. While I personally prefer you to forego this step and just focus on eating healthy, I really can’t discount the fact that counting calories works especially when you want to lose weight and keep it off for good.
Before you start counting calories, you have to first know how much calories you actually need per day. The amount of calories a person needs per day depends on a lot of variables such as activity level and overall health condition.
How many calories per day should I eat?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggests the average calories for the following:
If you want to know how to compute the amount of calories you eat per day, you can consult a few websites that have calorie databases. These help people know how many calories there are in any food item such as burgers, salads, and sauces. If you’re computing it now, chances are you’re getting more than your fair share of calories a day and one of the best ways to lose weight is to reduce your overall calorie intake per day.
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Roughly speaking, 1 pound of body fat is equal to 3,500 calories. Without being too technical about it, if you cut 500 calories a day from your diet, you can lose 1 pound of fat a week. There is a deeper science behind this principle and new research even suggest that the 3,500 calorie rule mostly works for short term weight loss. For the most part, however, cutting 500 calories per day seem to work so let’s stick to this simple rule first and expand further once you get to see results.
The thing with counting calories is that it works marvelously when it comes to weight loss. While losing weight is often the first step or the first hurdle that we want to jump over, I have to admit I don’t want to count calories forever. Counting calories is, in my opinion, a good way to start but not exactly something that’s ideal to maintain for long periods of time.
I’ve met a lot of people who count calories every day and while they’re pretty knowledgeable in what they eat and how much they have to eat, I sometimes worry they may not be enjoying life as much as they should. I mean, it’s not always good to analyze everything you do in life and when you do it each time you eat, you may not enjoy the food as much as you’re supposed to.
Eating is something we should all enjoy and counting calories all the time will definitely ruin the mood for you. You might end up like one of those people who find eating a burden or something that scares them as they begin to see a piece of candy or a slice of cake something bad for them. That’s not the type of calorie counting we want at all.
Quality is Better Than Quantity
Counting calories is not just about measuring the amount of energy you swallow everyday. Counting calories works on shedding the extra weight but unfortunately our body doesn’t count it this way. It’s really not as simple as addition and subtraction. Our bodies take into account every factor when it comes to calorie absorption. Those factors include metabolism, tissue repair, energy expended per day, nutrient absorption, and source of calories. Among the factors, you only have one you can control 100% and that is where you get your calories.
Take for instance a 300 calorie burger and a 300 calorie vegetable salad. No doubt they both will provide you the same caloric intake but obviously the vegetable salad wins over the burger when it comes to health benefits.
The same goes for 300 calories of soda vs 300 calories of apple juice or 300 calories of white bread vs 300 calories of whole wheat bread. I can give all the examples and comparisons you want but the point is that at the end of the day, the number of calories you consume won’t matter as much as where you get your calories. It’s all about quality vs quantity and you should focus more on foods that will give you the best bang for your buck and by bang I mean nutrition.
What would my menu look like?
After knowing how many calories you need to part with, you now need to know what your diet would look like. Right now you must be imagining an almost empty plate with nothing but peanuts, leaves, and a fruit on the side. Fortunately, it’s not like that at all.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, overweight men and women should aim for a reduced-calorie diet of about 1,200 to 1,600 calories per day if they want to shed pounds. An example of what you need to eat every day doesn’t look too bad either.
There are even websites that offer calorie comparison services to help you build your own menu but for starters, it’s always good to go do a bit of research for menu samples.
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