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Calories And Weight Loss

The first time I heard about calories was from my Aunt Sally. Aunt Sally was always a lot of fun and took me and my sisters out to movies and other events when were young. She was probably in her middle 30's during this time and I was 10 and my sisters were a few years older.

We had stopped in after a movie and my sisters and I were gobbling down on our favorites, cheeseburgers, fries, and a malt. When I asked Aunt Sally about not eating she said if she was going to take in 600 calories it certainly wasn't going to be a cheeseburger. 

My sisters laughed but I didn't get it. So I asked her what is a calorie. She then told me that it was a way that you measured how much each food item had in energy and that if you had too many per day, you would gain weight. And I said that my mom was always telling me to eat more at the dinner table so what was the big deal.

She then told me that I was ten and growing so that was appropriate for me but she was 35 and didn't want to grow anymore. She also said there was food she liked a lot more than McDonalds that she would rather eat. She explained that she kept count of all the calories she consumed in a day and that was how she kept her weight at the desired amount.

My Aunt was a very attractive gal, even I could see that, but it had never dawned on me that

it took any effort. I mentioned this conversation to my Mom later on in the day. She also concurred on this calorie business, the more you eat, the more weight you will gain. Since I was so young, I still couldn't really understand this whole concept. Heck everyone was always telling me to eat all my vegetables and clean my plate. Now too much candy and sweets were frowned upon but I got the idea that was more about my teeth than any weight gain.

The guys in the video below explain exactly what a calorie is far better than I can so I'll let them give you the scoop.

This video gives a great but simple explanation of calories and how they work. As you can see, it's not as simple as it may seem.

Video Transcript (in case you can't view the video)

We hear about calories all the time. How many calories are in this cookie? How many are burned by 100 jumping jacks, or long distance running, or fidgeting? But what is a calorie, really, and how many of them do we actually need? Calories are a way of keeping track of the body's energy budget. A healthy balance occurs when we put in about as much energy as we lose. If we consistently put more energy into our bodies than we burn, the excess will gradually be stored as fat in our cells, and we'll gain weight. If we burn off more energy than we replenish, we'll lose weight. So we have to be able to measure the energy we consume and use, and we do so with a unit called the calorie. One calorie, the kind we measure in food, also called a large calorie, is defined as the amount of energy it would take to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius. Everything we consume has a calorie count, a measure of how much energy the item stores in its chemical bonds. The average pizza slice has 272 calories, there are about 78 in a piece of bread, and an apple has about 52. That energy is released during digestion, and stored in other molecules that can be broken down to provide energy when the body needs it. It's used in three ways: about 10% enables digestion, about 20% fuels physical activity, and the biggest chunk, around 70%, supports the basic functions of our organs and tissues. That third usage corresponds to your basal metabolic rate, a number of calories you would need to survive if you weren't eating or moving around. Add in some physical activity and digestion, and you arrive at the official guidelines for how many calories the average person requires each day: 2000 for women and 2500 for men. Those estimates are based on factors like average weight, physical activity and muscle mass. So does that mean everyone should shoot for around 2000 calories? Not necessarily. If you're doing an energy guzzling activity, like cycling the Tour de France, your body could use up to 9000 calories per day. Pregnancy requires slightly more calories than usual, and elderly people typically have a slower metabolic rate, energy is burned more gradually, so less is needed. Here's something else you should know before you start counting calories. The calorie counts on nutrition labels measure how much energy the food contains, not how much energy you can actually get out of it. Fibrous foods like celery and whole wheat take more energy to digest, so you'd actually wind up with less energy from a 100 calorie serving of celery than a 100 calorie serving of potato chips. Not to mention the fact that some foods offer nutrients like protein and vitamins, while others provide far less nutritional value. Eating too many of those foods could leave you overweight and malnourished. And even with the exact same food, different people might not get the same number of calories. Variations in things like enzyme levels, gut bacteria, and even intestine length, means that every individual's ability to extract energy from food is a little different. So a calorie is a useful energy measure, but to work out exactly how many of them each of us requires we need to factor in things like exercise, food type, and our body's ability to process energy. Good luck finding all of that on a nutrition label.

OK, now you know more than most. Flash ahead 30 years and I really get it now too. I was blessed with a high metabolism and could always eat as much of anything I wanted and never had a problem until after I turned 40. Not sure whether it's the fact that I didn't exercise as much or I just ate more, but the calories started adding up and I started gaining a few pounds.

By the time I caught on, I was a good 20lbs over the weight than I had been for years. I figured I'd just crank up the exercise and that would take care of it. Nope, that didn't work for any weight loss. I'm sure it helped in other ways to make me more healthy but it really didn't result in any measurable weight loss. In fact I gained a few pounds since I was increasing my muscle mass.
So then I joined the calorie counting crowd and the weight slowly started to go down. I tried a few of the popular diets but that always ended up the same way. I'd lose a few pounds but then as soon as I went off the diet regime, back came the weight. It was always a temporary at best solution that didn't help for the long term. Many diets (especially the fad diets) are short term solutions that drop by the wayside if you stop adhering to the special foods. 

So I finally figured out that keeping an eye on calorie consumption was now a way of life if I wanted to lose

weight and then maintain the weight loss. This was not a off again on again proposition, it needed to be a permanent change that required some ongoing effort. It also became clear that the food choices you make are as important as the calories.

It's Not Just The Number Of Calories But The Nutritional Value Too. 

You have to understand that there are good calories (foods that are high in nutrition) and bad calories (foods like twinkies that have little or no nutrition). OK, so now I need to actually make an informed choice on the food I eat. And I also soon learned that every calorie is not the same, you need to look at the food quality too.

A calorie is really a measurement of energy. It gets pretty technical as you saw in the above video but to keep it simple lets just say that when you eat foods, your body uses the energy to operate every day. If you consume too many calories in a given day they are often stored as fat for future use. There are also good calories (food with nutritional value like fruits and vegetables) and bad calories (things like sugar, processed foods, etc.). Some use the term empty calories, implying that there is little or no nutritional value.

So I started eating healthy and made choices to eat less of bad or empty calorie foods and more of the low calorie healthy foods. That also means choosing foods that have what called negative calories. These are foods that require more energy to digest so you get the nutrition but not any extra calories since they burn more than they contain to digest. I started skipping the Bleu Cheese salad dressing, more often I got the Balsamic Vinegar one instead. And instead of sour cream and cheese on my baked potato I chose salsa. Sounds a little weird but it tastes pretty good and low in calories. Some people even  like yogurt on their baked potato but I'm not a yogurt kind of guy.

So watching the servings amount (portion control), making healthy choices like broiled rather than fried, and just keeping a loose count of calories each day allowed me to loose weight and keep it off. No stiff rules, no weird ingredients, or denial of favorite foods. I also cut way back on the sugar, and if I have a dessert I usually split it with someone to limit the amount of calories.

Counting Calories To Lose Weight Is More Of An Art Than Science.

I'm no nutrition expert or doctor but I've found what works for me. Some people might need a diet regime to help get them started, some may need to take other measures due to health issues. But the caloric intake is always a factor in any type of weight loss. And take care not to go too low in calories, everyone needs basic nutrition to be healthy. I would definitely skip the extreme diets that suggest less than 1200 calories a day since they usually only produce temporary results and can be downright bad for you over the long term.

If you've viewed are other video on our YouTube Channel you already know that most calorie information may not be 100% accurate. But in regard to counting daily amounts of calorie consumed it still works. If you're off 10% one way or another it doesn't matter as long as you make good choices. And you will be surprised at how quickly you learn which foods are the best choices based on calories and nutrition.

This is one method to calculate your basic requirement of calories. It's all about coming up with what your individual need in regard to calories is every day. That's the good part since it does deal with you and not some generic person. But if you read my way below it's not as scientific but it's much more simple and also works. Bottom line is you do need a baseline to start any weight loss program.

Video Transcript (in case you can't view the video)

How to Calculate How Many Calories You Need. Whether you are looking to lose a few pounds or simply maintain your current weight, determining how many calories you need every day is important but simple. You will need A scale A yardstick and a calculator. Step 1. Weigh yourself and note your weight in pounds. Then use the yardstick to measure your height in inches. Step 2. Calculate your basal metabolic rate if you're a woman. Multiply your weight by 4.35. Then multiply your height by 4.7. Add the two products. Then subtract the product of your age in years multiplied by 4.7 and add 655. For example, a 150-pound woman who is 65 inches tall and 30 years old would have a basal metabolic rate of 1,472. Step 3. Calculate your basal metabolic rate if you're a man by multiplying your weight by 6.23. Add the product of your height in inches multiplied by 12.7. Subtract your age in years multiplied by 6.8 and then add 66. A 180 pound man who is 70 inches tall and 40 years old would have a basal metabolic rate of 1,804.4. Step 4. Determine your daily activity level. Sedentary people get little to no activity. Light levels include activity a few days a week, moderate includes activity three to five days a week, and very active individuals play sports daily. Step 5. Multiply your basal metabolic rate by an activity factor of 1.2 for sedentary, 1.375 for light, 1.55 for moderate, and 1.725 for very active. If the 150-pound woman is active four days a week, her activity level would be moderate. Multiplying her basal metabolic rate of 1,472 by 1.55 gives her a calculation of 2,281.6. Step 6. Factor the basal metabolic rate by the activity factor to give you the number of calories per day you can eat to maintain your current weight. Step 7. Subtract 500 calories per day to lose 1 pound each week. Keep tabs on your caloric intake and you'll stay fit and strong. Did you know By walking an additional 10,000 steps each day, the average adult can burn an extra 500 calories giving you a 1 pound loss in a week without cutting calories.

One good way to track calories is to use the memo function on your phone. I just put down the amount of calories (best educated guess is fine to use) for each meal and then put the today for the day in master list on my computer. That allows me to see what my average daily calorie intake is for each week. This allows me to adjust my daily calories and reminds me to make better choices. Some days it's not pretty but I'm more interested in the long term than daily so it helps.

My best advice is to never give up the weight loss battle. Try and develop reasonable goals based on the basics of portion control and smart healthy choices on items you eat. Keep a running daily count of calories, it doesn't have to be exact but it will make you aware of your intake. Just take it one step at a time, and before you know it you'll see some good results.

Need A More Structured Weight Loss Program?

Some people need a little more help from a structured diet program. And there's a lot to be said for weight loss programs that give you step by step instructions, meal plans, and peer support. Everyone can be different and so it's really important for you to explore different weight loss methods. We have found three that we feel are all good programs that have been developed for people that need that structure and support to lose weight. All are popular since they are designed specifically for different approaches based on your individual needs. You can find out more about these programs by clicking here.

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