Are you struggling to lose weight? Learning how to lose weight by eating the right amount of calories is the key to your success. First begin by understanding what calories are and then look at your metabolism and how your body burns them. Listening to your body and recognizing how it functions makes it a lot easier to stay focused and reach your goals.
Calories are a source of energy. The body uses them to fuel our metabolisms and provide the energy that we need to do our daily activities. The amount of calories that each person should consume depends on multiple factors like metabolism, daily activity, and level of exercise.
We are all born with different metabolisms. Our metabolism is our internal engine which operates differently for each person. Some people have a fast metabolism while others have a slow metabolism. You cannot do too much to change it. The amount of calories that we burn naturally in a 24 hour period without expending any additional energy is our metabolic rate. It is what our body uses for organ and brain function.
Daily activity is considered the activities that we do every day that our body is accustomed to doing; for example, brushing our teeth, going to work, or walking to the bus stop. These are activities that we do on a daily basis and are not new to our routine. We burn calories doing just about everything.
Exercise is any additional activity that you may do that is outside of your normal routine. Walking to the train station every morning does not count as exercise. Going for a run, swim or a walk in the park would count as exercise. The intensity, frequency, and duration of the exercises would determine how many additional calories you would burn.
Consuming Calories and Weight Loss
Macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Each macronutrient translates into calories. Carbohydrates and proteins are four kcal per gram, and fats are nine kcals per gram. Almost everything that we eat and drink contains calories. Things that do not contain calories are water and diet beverages. The percentage of calories coming from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats will always add up to 100 percent, but how they are divided up varies from person to person. On average 50-60 percent of calories come from carbohydrates, 25-30 percent comes from fat, and 20-25 percent from protein.
Where our calories come from are important and will have an effect on whether or not we lose weight because each macronutrient plays a different role in the body. Essentially eliminating an entire macronutrient from your diet will spare the calories, but it will cause other damage to your metabolism and result in suboptimal performance. In order to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. Ideally, a one to two pound weight loss is recommended so that you are targeting fat mass and not muscle. This can be achieved by cutting your calories back and increasing your metabolism by either exercising or increasing your daily activity.
Message from the RD
Understanding calories and weight loss can be relatively easy. All you need to do is learn how to lose weight by eating the right amount of calories. You can do this by evaluating your metabolism and fueling your body accordingly. If you have various medical conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease, the macronutrient breakdown of your meals may be altered from the norm. If you are struggling to identify how to fuel your metabolism, consult a dietitian to help you create an eating plan.
This information is based on my education and experience working at SHS Nutrition, LLC in New Jersey.
Wardlaw,G. M. Perspectives in Nutrition. Fourth Edition. 1999.