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|Christine Pellegrini, Post-Doctoral Research Associate|
If you are currently:
Maintaining weight: Calories IN are the same, as Calories OUT.
Gaining weight: Calories IN are higher than Calories OUT.
Losing weight: Calories IN are less than Calories OUT.
If you are trying to lose weight, you need to make sure that your body is burning more calories than you are consuming.
There are approximately 3,500 calories in 1 pound of body fat. Therefore, if you want to lose 1 pound, you need to change your energy balance by 3,500 calories. This can be done by eating 500 fewer calories/day, burning 500 extra calories/day by doing activity (walking 1 mile burns approximately 100 calories), or creating a 500-calorie deficit by a combination of eating less and moving more. Creating this 500-calorie deficit each day will result in a 1-pound weight loss over a week (500 calories/day x 7 days = 3,500 calories).
The number of calories that are necessary to maintain your weight will vary depending on several factors, such as your metabolic rate and current level of physical activity. Although specific tests are required to determine the exact number, you can still follow a simple equation to estimate the number of calories your body needs to maintain your current weight: Multiply your current body weight by 12.
Now that you have calculated the number of calories your body needs to maintain or lose weight, the next step is to figure out how many calories you eat each day. Although it may seem tedious, tracking how many calories you eat or drink each day is extremely important. Research has shown that those individuals who consistently self-monitor what they eat lose more weight than those who do not self-monitor. If you don't know how many calories you're consuming, it makes weight loss much more difficult. At least if you have an idea, you can stay closer to your calorie goal (which you calculated above)...so get tracking! Don't forget to include those beverages, butters, mayonnaise, and oils!
Boutelle, K. N., & Kirschenbaum D. S. (May 1998). Further support for consistent self-monitoring as a vital component of successful weight control. Obesity Research, 6(3), 219-224.
For more information, questions on weight management, or to provide feedback, please contact Christine Pellegrini at firstname.lastname@example.org.