One pound of body weight is equivalent to 3500 calories. So in order to lose one pound of weight, we need to create a calorie-deficit of 3500 calories.
We can do this by increasing our calorie expenditure, by reducing our calorie intake, or (best) by a combination of both.
- Suppose you need 2000 calories a day, in order to maintain your present weight.
- To lose one pound a week, you need to cut your daily calorie intake to 1500 calories.
- Over 7 days, this adds up to 3500 calories.
- The same result can be achieved by increasing your exercise by 200 calories/day, and reducing your calorie-intake by 300 calories/day.
- That said, a combination of calorie-reduction and increased exercise makes weight loss easier to sustain.
Guide To Calorie Content Of Food
There are roughly 4 calories in each gram of carbohydrate or protein, but 9 calories per gram of dietary fat. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram. So an obvious way of reducing your calorie intake is to restrict your consumption of foods which are high in fat, and drinks which are high in alcohol.
However, nutrition and healthy eating is an important factor in all weight loss diets. A nutritious diet plan boosts weight loss in various ways. First, our metabolism (the way we burn food or convert it into body fat) needs several minerals and vitamins to maintain its efficiency. Without these nutrients, our metabolism won’t burn food properly and may slow down, causing a reduction in our rate of weight loss. Second, without adequate nutrition our digestive system may not be able to digest and process our food properly. As well as micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber is also very beneficial for our gastrointestinal tract, and helps to avoid constipation and other indigestion-type complaints such as diverticulosis and IBS.
The worst type of foods from both a calorie and nutritional viewpoint are “empty calorie” foods. These are foods are drinks which contain very small amounts of nutrition but large amounts of calories. They use up our calorie allowance without providing any useful nutrients. For anyone who is overweight or who wishes to reduce weight, these empty calorie foods should be avoided. Examples of empty calorie food items include: energy drinks, all regular sodas, sweets, candy.
In addition, certain foods may be “calorie-dense”. These foods are particularly high in fat-calories (eg. butter, mayonnaise, sausages, full-fat cheese), or they may contain an excessive amount of both fat and sugar (eg. many types of commercial popcorn, white flour muffins or other rich bread-snacks, candy). Obviously, these processed calorie-dense foods are not a good choice for someone who wants to lose weight.
The best type of calorie-controlled weight loss diet contains foods from all food-groups (including fats), and aims to help you lose about two pounds of body fat per week. It should be rich in high-fiber, whole grains, and should include lean protein and a moderate amount of good quality vegetable oils. For most women, a realistic energy intake is 1200-1600 calories per day, depending on age and energy expenditure. For most men, 1600-2000 calories a day should be sufficient.