Weight loss tips for real life: calories for weight loss. The second part in a weight loss series.
Last time on my weight loss series, we talked about where to begin when trying to lose weight. We talked about setting goals, identifying barriers, and tracking meals and snacks. How did you do? Did you set a realistic goal and track your meals and snacks? Hopefully you gained some insight on what your patterns and problem areas are. This time, we are going to talk about another important part of weight loss, and that is calories. First off, you need to know what a calorie is. Simply put, it’s a measure of energy. And your body needs energy to function. But when we take in more energy than we burn, that’s when weight gain occurs.
While calories aren’t everything by any means, it’s nice to have a ballpark range in mind when trying to determine if you are eating too much (or too little) to accomplish your weight loss goals. So how many calories does it take to accomplish a healthy, sustainable weight loss? That depends.
Calorie levels are so specific to the individual that one range will not work for everyone or even any one group of people. Any dietitian will tell you that nutrition is such an individual concept and nutrition is NOT one-size-fits-all. Energy needs vary based on your size, activity level, physical fitness, and so many other factors, and it’s very hard to know the exact amount of calories a person needs without a very expensive piece of machinery.
But don’t worry. You aren’t doomed. You CAN determine about how many calories will help you lose weight. As nutritionists, we know that 3500 calories is about equivalent to one pound of body fat. So in order to achieve a healthy weight loss of 1-2 pounds a week, you would need to consume about 500 fewer calories than you normally do. If you’ve been tracking your intake already, it shouldn’t be too hard to determine where those calories are coming from that you can easily cut out.
For example, if you’re drinking a large (32 oz) soda every day, replacing that one soda with water or unsweetened tea will save you almost 400 calories. In Mr. Table’s case, we determined the easiest way to cut calories without sacrificing nutrition was to keep the beers to a minimum. (We can fit about 2 light beers into his daily calorie needs.) If you need more ideas, here are some easy RD-approved ways to cut 100 calories from your daily diet.
Be aware, though, it is possible to go too low in calories. You need enough energy to sustain your metabolism and get the required nutrients your body needs. If you don’t consume enough energy, you can actually sabotage your own weight loss. (More on that here). Women should not go below 1200 calories, and men shouldn’t go below about 1800 calories for weight loss.
If you’ve been tracking the foods you eat but not the calories in them, now may be the time to start until you establish the habit of eating a little bit less. The KitchenIQ Smart Wireless Kitchen Scale can help you determine the calories in the specific amount of food you are eating and track it right on your smartphone! It can also help you visualize reasonable portion sizes of you favorite foods.
For example, Mr. Table determined that he could still eat a biscuit for breakfast while trying to lose weight, but two biscuits (his portion before) was not realistic for his weight loss goals. We replaced the other biscuit with fresh fruit for filling fiber and nutrients with fewer calories. We also made sure to include plenty of protein (an egg and piece of ham most mornings) so he doesn’t get hungry too quickly.
So to sum it up for this lesson, you need to decrease your calorie intake by about 500 calories per day to achieve a healthy weight loss, but don’t go too low. Recording your calories and replacing high calorie foods with more nutritious, lower calorie foods (fruits and veggies!) will help you reduce calories while not feeling hungry. Next time, we will talk about portion sizes and eating out, and I’ll also have a special surprise, so stay tuned!
Also, in case you were wondering, Mr. Table has been doing great on his weight loss goals. He has lost about 6 pounds since we began. Way to go babe! How are you doing on your goals?
This post was sponsored by Kitchen IQ. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Lively Table and the brands that keep my website up and running!