Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics
No matter what the diet you are on, and no matter how elaborate the technical strategy, weight loss comes down to some rather basic principles. One of the most basic principles that must be followed is that calories can equal either energy used or energy stored. In other words, calories will either be the items that propels you or the thing that literally weighs you down. And while diets may demand stringent schedules from you and promise you the world, they are often no more than fad money grabs. What you need a straightforward and earnest look at what it is that you need to do to limit your calorie input and maximize your calorie output. The ideas are simple, but understanding why the simple ideas work is the most important step you can take toward success.
Basics of Calories
Calories are simply energy. The energy of a consumed item comes in the form of calories that is then utilized by the body. While the obvious burning of calories is during workouts, calories burn constantly. Your heart pumping, stomach digesting, and limbs twitching all use up energy in one way or another. Even your blinking uses up a tiny amount of energy. Your basal metabolic rate is the amount of calories your body burns when resting. In other words, there is an amount of calories your body needs to function like a normal body.
Where are Calories?
As stated before, calories are in almost everything you consume. Different foods hold different amounts of calories depending upon how much protein, carbohydrates, and fats are within them. Protein and carbohydrates hold around four calories per gram. Fats contain around nine calories per gram. Alcohol is even a course of calories with seven calories per gram. Each of these calories is taken in by your body and either utilized as the basal functions, exerted energy, or stored away in fat cells.
One of the most fundamental changes you can make to a diet if you are looking to lose weight is to cut down on your calories. If you are taking in around 3,000 calories per day and only using up 1,500 calories, you are gaining weight. If you are able to lower your calories per day to 2,500 and up your caloric output to 2,000 per day then you will gain less weight. As follows, if you can assure your output is higher than your input, you will sustain or lose weight. The general rule is that if you take in 500 less calories than you burn per day, you can lose around one pound per week in a healthy manner. It is important to note that you should not drop your intake of calories below 1,100 calories. Any caloric intake below 1,100 per day is considered unhealthy unless there is a direct reason via your physician.
Remove Low-Quality Foods
The best ways to lower your caloric intake effectively is three fold. The first step of which is to cut out all and any low quality foods. These are foods that usually have high calorie counts with very low nutritional values. Foods like fast-food hamburgers, gas station chips and candy bars, and most confectionary items are just a few examples. These items are usually chalked full of processed sugars and other simple carbohydrates. These carbohydrates and general calories are quickly turned into fat. The reason this happens so readily is due to the fact that they raise your blood sugar level. When your blood sugar level rises, your body releases insulin. When insulin is released, the body begins to store the sugars and fat as fat cells in the body instead of using them productively.
Swap Out Low for High Quality Foods
The next step is to lowering your caloric intake is to replace these foods with better quality foods. Some swaps are simple and easy to maintain. Instead of drinking whole milk or 2% milk, try using skim milk. Instead of eating something like pizza or a bacon-burger, try eating an assortment of raw or steamed vegetables (avoid excessive dressing). You can also remove chips or pork-rinds and replace them with popcorn or air-popped. While these substitutes are not always the most satisfying at first, coupling them with activity revitalizes the body. Usually after a few efforts, the body becomes use to the positive feeling of proper nutrition and the pangs for low-quality foods is diminished.
Lower Your Portions
The final and most difficult task for those wanting to lower their caloric intake is lowering the portion count. Many of us become accustom to the amount of food we intake per meal. Many times, when we first attempt to lower the intake of food we will feel unsatisfied. However, after the initial difficulty, once our body becomes use to the lessened quantity of food, it assimilates. There are simple ways to trick the body into thinking it is getting enough food. Using slightly smaller plates of the same pattern is a great way to lower the portion. In general, smaller portions can be managed by smaller surfaces as the brain is easily persuaded that it is the same amount of food as before. One can also utilize foods that are more filling but better for you. This is made easier by the fact that foods that are bad for you often do not fill you up as easily either. Foods like broccoli salad or steamed sweet potatoes can be very filling, while a piece of chocolate cake or a package of chips.
Making the Cut Work
Remember that a big key to success is always starting small. Do not try to push out all the calories right away. This will only set you up for failure. Remember to avoid bags or packages of food. Try to only eat items you have prepared and then placed on a plate. Of course, this is not always easy, but in general if you can hold to it, your calories per day is lowered. Finally, always follow labels and keep track of your calories until you are sure that you have lowered your amount per day. Being actively minded and not letting yourself slip up too often is the best way to manage your calories per day successfully.
Image credited to fitnessassessment.net; thyblackman.com; blogs.prevention.com
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