4/09/2008

Counting Calories. The true secret of weight loss.

by Cary Raffle

You hear about all kinds of supplements, medications and diets, but remember that the only way to lose weight is to maintain a calorie deficit. To lose weight, you have to either decrease the calories that you take in or increase the calories that you burn. Or both.

A 36 year old man who is 5 foot 9 inches, weighs 190 pounds and exercises 3-5 times a week needs about 2926 calories per day. A 36 year old woman who is 5 foot 5 inches, weighs 140 pounds and exercises 3-5 time a week needs about 2171 calories per day. (Those of you who completed a fitness assessment with me already have your own personally calculated estimate of daily calories).

If you take in more calories, you gain weight, if you take in less, you lose weight. And this is important - it doesn't matter whether the calories are from fat, protein or carbohydrates - a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. Most diets recommend a 500 calorie a day deficit which translates to a loss of about 1 pound per week. You will need to adjust this target as you continue to lose weight.

HOW DO YOU COUNT CALORIES?

One of my clients recommends The Daily Plate, click here to try it. This is an excellent free resource where you can input all of the foods that you eat and all of your activities, calculate your calorie consumption and expenditures, and maintain a dairy. The library of foods in its calorie database is amazing.

If you aren't looking to get obsessive-compulsive about it and maintain an ongoing diary, just try it for 3-7 days and identify your problem areas. In his case, we reduced red meat from two days to one day per week, eliminated a few beers, and maintained his activity level. Results: dropped 6 pounds from January 6-31.