Weight Loss and Calories
Although the process of gaining and losing weight may appear mysterious, it is really quite simple. It is a function of the amount of energy (calories) taken in versus the amount of energy expended. Excess calories in the body will be stored as fat – regardless of the source (carbohydrate, fat or protein).
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Calorie Reduction to Lose Weight
There are many books that claim to reveal the secrets of weight loss. Some believe it to be low carbohydrate and others recommend only eating fruits and vegetables. But, if you look closely, they all have one thing in common. They decrease the amount of energy or calories that a person takes in. So it is true that many of these diets may help people to lose weight. But all too often, it is done in an unhealthy manner. Eating a healthy diet involves making lifestyle changes that you can live with forever.
The average person’s body requires at least 1200 calories per day to maintain basic body functioning. Consuming less than that amount may actually cause a person to gain weight because the body’s metabolism will drop, requiring fewer calories, and the body will begin storing as much fat as possible.
Calories and Weight Loss
A pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. In order for people to gain or lose a pound, they must either increase or decrease their intake by this amount. A healthy goal is to lose weight by 1 to 1.5 pounds per week. Since there are 7 days in a week, we can divide 3,500 by 7 and conclude that calorie-intake should reduce by about 500 calories per day.
Diet and Exercise Works Best
For people interested in losing weight, a combination of dietary changes and cardiovascular exercise have been shown to be more effective than dietary changes alone. By increasing the amount of calories expended, the need for dietary changes will be minimized. For example, jogging at a pace of 11 minutes per mile for 30 minutes burns an average of 325 calories. If 325 is subtracted from 500, we are left with 175 calories that should be reduced from the diet. This is a far cry from the traditional association of weight loss and starvation.
Increase Lean Muscle Tissue
Increasing lean muscle mass is also a good way to help maintain a healthy weight. In addition to decreasing risk for numerous diseases, lean muscle requires more energy or calories to support it, thus making it easier to lose weight.