Counting Calories: A Key to Effective Weight Loss
Wed, April 14, 2021

Counting Calories: A Key to Effective Weight Loss

Losing weight is oftentimes at the top of most everyone’s resolution as we enter the New Year. But, if you’re serious about losing weight, it is essential to learn how to do it correctly / Photo by: Dmitry Ageev via 123RF

 

Losing weight is oftentimes at the top of most everyone’s resolution as we enter the New Year. But, if you’re serious about losing weight, it is essential to learn how to do it correctly. The most common method of getting rid of unwanted pounds is counting and controlling your calories. While the process may seem very simple, there are actually a number of common mistakes that a lot of dieters make. This can spell the difference between weight-loss success or weight gain once more. Mistakes can delay or even stop your dieting progress.

 

The Situation Today

In a survey involving everyday American citizens, the Calorie Control Council revealed that at least 54% of respondents are trying to lose weight. This stems from the fact that over two-thirds of American adults are found to be overweight, as mentioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here are the more pertinent findings of the said survey when it comes to the method used for losing weight: 86% of Americans believe that they need to cut down on food high in sugar; 85% believe they need to eat smaller portions of their favorite food; 78% shared that they use low-calorie, reduced-sugar, sugar-free food and beverages; 73% combine calorie reduction with exercise; 64% exercise moderately three times a week for 45 minutes; 44% count calories; 37% chew gum; 17% use online weight loss tools; 17% skip meals to diet; 13% use diet pills; 8% follow a restrictive weight loss diet such as the Atkins diet; 8% join weight control programs; and 7% participate in online weight loss programs. While calorie counting is not the most popular, it is a method that should not be underestimated. One review found that weight loss programs that included calorie counting led to an average of 7 pounds or 3.3 kilograms worth of weight loss.

What Are Calories?

Calories are a measure of energy, most often used to determine the energy found in food and beverages. In other words, it is the amount of energy we receive from eating or drinking. Calories in food are used by the body for normal functions such as breathing, thinking, and moving. The body breaks down food into units during digestion and these are used to build tissues in the body or for immediate energy consumption.

According to Healthline, an online resource for medical news and general topics, “a dietary calorie is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius. To measure the amount of energy provided by food, calories are measured in terms of thousands of calories, known as kilocalories (kcal) or most commonly known as just “calories.”

Calories are a measure of energy, most often used to determine the energy found in food and beverages. In other words, it is the amount of energy we receive from eating or drinking / Photo by: rawpixel via 123RF

 

Calories that are not used by the body are stored as fat, which we burn either during exercise or from our day-to-day activities. Excess calories can accumulate and cause weight gain over time.

Calories power the majority of basic metabolism (basic metabolic rate), 10% to 15% of digestion processes (thermic effect of food), and physical activity. This includes our brain, kidneys, lungs, heart, nervous system, and used for everyday tasks and workouts.

The Basics of Counting 

Several research on overfeeding have established that when people get more calories than they burn off, they gain weight. If calories from food received are insufficient for immediate needs, your body draws from stored energy to compensate, and that helps you lose weight. In order for the body to lose weight, you need to maintain a calorie-deficit diet because once your body’s immediate energy needs are met, the excess is stored as fat or glycogen in the muscles.

The first concept that you need to know in calorie counting is that not all calories are created equal. The amount of energy the body receives is dependent on the source of food, whether it’s carbohydrates, proteins, fats, or even alcohol. Each kind of food has a corresponding amount of calories per gram. In regular servings, carbohydrates and proteins each have 4 calories per gram, fats have 9 calories per gram, and alcohol has 7 calories per gram. While the intake of calories depends on the kind of food and is affected by personal metabolism, hormone levels, hunger, and appetite, 100 calories worth of food is still 100 calories. However, eating 100 calories worth of doughnuts may not diminish hunger as effectively as eating 100 calories from apples. Therefore, eating a doughnut may make you likely to overeat later in the day and hinder you from achieving a calorie deficit. The best way to gauge if you have a calorie deficit is if you are aware of your daily energy needs. The calorie count is different for everyone, varying by age, physical activity, body type, weight, and others.

Once you know how many calories you need in your body, you either maintain your weight, gain weight, or slim down. If you want to lose one pound each week, you decrease your intake by 500 calories each day. If you want to lose more or gain more, adjustments are made based on this. In addition, how you weigh and measure proportions matter. Typically, the most accurate measurements come from scales, measuring cups, or using reliable comparisons such as 1 serving of rice or pasta is usually half a cup; 1 serving of meat is usually 3 ounces, and so on.

Above all, the quality of the food you eat, regardless of the amount of calories, still matter, targeted toward a balanced diet compared to excessive food. Calories in and calories out are certainly not the only things that matter in optimizing health.

Once you know how many calories you need in your body, you either maintain your weight, gain weight, or slim down. If you want to lose one pound each week, you decrease your intake by 500 calories each day / Photo by: belchonock via 123RF