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Thursday, September 20, 2012
If you can’t sleep, you count sheep. But if you want to lose weight, you must count calories. Yes, an important aspect of any weight loss regime is counting calories. You don’t have to fiddle with your grandfather’s abacus just to be able to do that, though. Calorie counting is pretty easy and effective, that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to successfully do that.
Before you count calories, though, it would be helpful to understand what a calorie is. A calorie is defined as a unit of measurement which measures the amount of energy contained in a food item or beverage. Our bodies use this energy to perform any activity. In order to maintain our weight, we have to meet certain caloric requirements. Eating less or burning more calories than that results in weight loss. This is what’s called calorie deficit. The rule is, a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories is equivalent to a one-pound weight loss.
For calorie-counting to be effective, you must first find out how many calories you need each day. This will depend largely on your sex, height, weight and the activities you do on a daily basis. A muscular man who towers at six feet and works at a construction site will need more calories than a petite secretary who sits in front of the computer for long stretches.
Now you can start setting goals as to how many calories you want to cut from your everyday diet, keeping in mind of course that it will take a calorie deficit of 3500 to shed off a single pound. Most people cut about 250-500 calories a day. Just be sure not to cut calories at a dangerous level- say, below 1200- as this can put your health at risk.
Counting calories naturally involves being able to read and understand food labels. These are the “nutrition facts” you usually find at the back of the labels of most food items. When reading this, do consider the “amount per serving”. As for restaurants or fast food chains, you’ll usually find the calorie information in their food items listed on their website or brochure.
Now you can move on to what’s called Portion Control. This simply means controlling the serving sizes of your food. Your “supersize me” habits can now be put to rest. Measure your food based on serving size, so you can accurately count the calories you consume.
Counting calories to lose weight is not all that hard. All it takes is discipline and the right mindset. Before you know it, your weight loss goals will soon be real.
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