A calorie is a measurement of the amount of energy that a unit of food provides. Counting calories are a component of dieting to lose (or gain) weight, but they can’t be relied upon to do the whole job. The quality of food and the types of food, such as sugar, salt etc all play a part in making a diet successful or not.
The calorie count can be used as a guide for daily food intake. The recommended daily calorie intake is variable depending on a person’s age, size, height, lifestyle, overall health, and activity level. Generally, the recommended daily calorie intake for weight maintenance for a female is 2000 and for a male, 2500.
Weight loss can be achieved by using up more calories than you consume, and it is better to calculate this on a daily basis. It is believed that the brain uses up to 20% of the energy that a person consumes with basic body functions using up most of the remainder. An exercise program will use up even more of the energy that we take in.
Eating highly nutritious foods to get your calories is always the best decision. The term “Empty Calories” refers to foods that have a low nutritional content and they should be minimized. Foods that add calories but have no nutritional value are not worth eating whether you are trying to lose weight or not.
To find the maximum number of calories you can consume in a day in order to lose weight, you can use the popular Harris-Benedict equation. This equation takes into account a person’s sex, age, height, weight and level of physical activity.
The equation for males is: 66.5 + 13.8 x (Weight in kg) + 5 x (Height in cm); 6.8 x age.
The equation for females is: 655.1 + 9.6 x (Weight in kg) + 1.9 x (Height in cm); 4.7 x age.
Them multiply that figure by the appropriate energy factor
Sedentary – 1.2
Moderate – 1.3
Active – 1.4
The final figure will give you the calories needed to maintain your current weight. All you need to do from here is to subtract 500 – 1000 calories, this will give you your daily calorie intake for weight loss.
I would suggest the slower approach by subtracting 500 calories. If you can stick to this, then you should be able to lose about 1 pound per week.
You need to periodically recalculate your daily weight loss calorie figure because as you will be losing weight, the calorie intake will need to be adjusted. If you don’t recalculate, you will find that you will stop losing weight at some point. It has been suggested that the calorie intake should be calculated every week, but I think that every 2-3 weeks is fine.
If you can use a spreadsheet you can make your own calculator using the formula, but there are many ready to use calculators online if you search for them.
The hardest part of counting your calories is keeping track of your daily intake and if you are eating fresh food, you will have to look up the calorie values yourself.
The calorie count is another tool that you can use to help you lose weight effectively. It needs to be used in conjunction with healthy eating and exercise for the best effect.