Should You Be Eating More or Less?
Most of us are familiar with the adage that weight loss is as simple as calories in verses calories out. In other words, when we consume more calories than we burn, we gain weight. On the other hand, weight loss can be achieved by creating a calorie deficit. While this covers the basics, there is a little more to the story.
Here are some interesting facts regarding caloric intake:
Most of us drastically underestimate our calorie consumption
One of the reasons restaurant chains in many areas are now required to provide their us with nutrition information is because studies have demonstrated that most people underestimate the number of calories they consume. Experts believe that this is one of the reasons why so many of us struggle to maintain a healthy weight. Getting an app like My Fitness Pal to track calories consumed is one way to become more aware of this.
When it comes to caloric needs, there is no magic number
While the FDA uses 2,000 as the average number of calories a person should consume in a day, the specific number varies for everyone. Factors such as activity level, weight, age, gender, and other variables all need to be taken into consideration.
You can determine your specific caloric needs by using the Harris Benedict equation or by using a simple weight loss calculator you can get online.
Cutting calories too drastically can thwart weight loss efforts
While calorie monitoring, and often restriction, is an important aspect of weight loss, you do need to use care to stay within safe and recommended caloric ranges. To lose weight quickly, many people cut their caloric intake too drastically and end up sabotaging their efforts. This is because severe calorie restriction makes it difficult to stick to your goals and often leads to unhealthy cycles of over-eating and under-eating.
Too large of a deficit also contributes to muscle loss, a reduction in energy levels, and diminished metabolic functions in the body such as leptin, thyroid, and testosterone levels. Your body may also slow down its metabolizing process and begin to store fat.
Not all calories are created equal
When it comes to calorie consumption, think quality. While low-fat foods sound healthy, you may be better off consuming their full-fat counterparts because the additional nutrients will keep you feeling full longer and prevent you from indulging later.
By making simple changes in your diet, such as swapping oatmeal for cold cereal, whole grains for their processed counterparts, sweet potatoes for regular, and whole fruits instead of fruit juice, the calories you do consume will satisfy you until the next meal.
Weight loss via calorie restriction takes time
For weight loss to be effective over the long term, it needs to be done properly and with patience. A healthy goal is a loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week. Take it slow and realize that just as it took a bit of time to gain the weight, it will take some time to lose it.
As with all aspects of your health, be sure to talk with your doctor about how to lose weight in a way that is not only safe but will ensure that it stays off.
While weight loss is rarely an easy endeavor, it is one that is worthwhile. Understanding what role calories play will go a long way towards helping you achieve your goals.