You need to burn excess calories in your body to lose weight. Although it sounds easy, it takes more than thoughts to actually cut calories and lose weight. You have to be smart and wise so as not to starve while shedding off excess calories. Being able to sustain your diet for long or better still making it part of your lifestyle goes a long way to help you meet your weight loss goals. If exercise is part of your weight-loss plan, there is also the need for you to only eat enough to support your workout sessions without adding more calories into your system.
Although exercise is a perfect way to lose weight, consuming fewer calories is an easier way to weight loss than burning excess calories. According to a previous research fellow at Harvard Medical School’s Lifestyle Medicine Institute and current assistant nutrition professor at the Simmons College, Rachele Pojednic, PHD., “The idea that diet is a more important element for weight loss isn’t necessarily because the calories from your diet are more significant, but just easier to target.”
Whether you cut your calorie-intake or run for an hour to lose 600 calories, you will successfully meet your weight loss goals. However, the former is easier on you mentally and physically. Pojednic says, “At the end of the day, weight loss is more of a math equation.”
We interviewed three weight loss experts to show you how to cut calories and successfully lose weight.
You can succeed in your weight loss efforts by tracking the calories you manage to shed off and the ones you consume. There are many reasons why counting the calories you lose and consume is critical to your weight loss endeavors.
It keeps you accountable for what you have lost, the amount of calories you still need to cut off and your calorie-intake. “If you need to write down and acknowledge the 400-calories cupcake you have with your afternoon chai latte, you’re more likely to make a healthier choice,” says Pojednic.
Furthermore, you can easily underestimate the amount of calories in the smoothie you drink after workout, your favorite go-to burrito breakfast or even the cookie you love munching in the afternoon. You get to control your calorie-intake by tracking the kind of food you eat, a critical element to your weight loss goals. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson and Our Lady of the Lake Region Medical Center’s nutrition and metabolic services’ director, Kristen F. Gradney, R.D.N., “Logging your food will give you a better handle on exactly how many calories you’re consuming, which is critical if your goal is weight loss.”
Use apps to track your food. “When using food tracking apps, enter your food items manually when possible to ensure accuracy,” says Gradney. Most apps can enable you to scan the barcodes on your food items for easy tracking. SuperTracker by the United States Department of Agriculture and MyFitnessPal are Pojednic’s top recommendations for food tracking apps.
Preparations Before You Start Burning Calories
Determine the amount of calories you need to consume daily to maintain your weight before you even start cutting calories. Calculate the amount of calories your body burns when you are resting or your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Various factors such as height, genetics, sex, muscle mass, age and even the weight of your body organs can influence your BMR. Your BMR, according to a Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise review, accounts for 60% to 75% of the amount of calories you lose daily and the remaining 40% to 25% is lost through food digestion and physical activities such as exercise.
Visit a nutritionist, doctor or a fitness facility to undergo an indirect calorimetry test that involves measuring the amount of oxygen you consume. This is the best way for you to get a precise BMR. However, according to NBA’s Atlanta Hawks’ sports nutritionist and Crossover Symmetry training director, these tests can cost you more than $100. If you are tight on finances, use USDA’s interactive calculator to easily and promptly find your BMR based on your weight, height and current level of activity.
Spano recommends that you subtract a maximum of 500 calories from your daily calorie estimate once you get your BMR. Note that your new total is just a starting point and not a fixed figure. If your daily calorie intake is too low, you will lose weight but risk becoming moody, having low energy or even developing headaches. Pojednic says, “You need energy (calories) to fuel your exercises and recovery. If you’re struggling with your current calorie-intake amount, you need to adjust it until you find a comfortable amount. If not, you won’t be able to meet your weight loss goals. It’s common for people to correct their daily calorie-intake total after losing weight and gaining it all back, or even more.
According to Spano, your daily calorie-intake amount reduces the moment you begin losing weight because your smaller body will need less energy to function. For instance, unlike tablets or laptops, smartphones use less power because they are smaller. Therefore, every time you lose 10 pounds, you need to re-calculate your daily calorie-intake amount to ensure you only consume what your body needs. If you got your calorie total from the costly specialist test, you might have to wait until you lose at least 20 pounds before redoing the test. Meanwhile, you can use online calculators to find your new daily calorie-intake total.
Cutting off Excess Calories
Opt for sugar- and calorie-free alternatives to your favorite foods so you do not feel deprived. Next, eliminate high-calorie food items such as mayonnaise from your diet and replace creamy salad dressings with vinegar-based toppings. Add veggies and fruits rich in fiber to your diet as mid-afternoon snacks to help you further cut calories by making you feel full for longer. Consider bananas, beets, apples, carrots, raspberries and dark greens such as spinach.
If you are a HIIT-lover or runner, Spano advises that you cut fats off your diet first before reducing carb-intake. She says, “High-intensity exercises require a specific carb-amount. However, if you have a day off or a light exercise scheduled, you can reduce your carb-intake.” Stick to 130 grams of carb-intake daily as a general dietary recommendation. Saturated fats must not exceed 10% of your daily calorie-intake.
Keep junk food off your diet while working on your weight loss goals; calories from such foods are not healthy. Foods rich in sugar and fats such as chips, muffins and processed meats should be substituted with more nutritional options such as whole grain breads, leafy greens, lean protein, etc. The latter nutritious food types will keep you full for longer, help cut calories and give you value for your money.
When to Seek Assistance from Weight Loss Professionals
People often overestimate the amount of calories they are able to burn through workouts, incorrectly calculate their daily calorie-intake amounts or even underestimate the amount of calories they actually consume. Weight loss professionals can help you determine your problem and recommend better strategies to help you attain your weight loss goals. For instance, the pro can re-examine your technique of counting calories and increase your meal frequency or workouts.
At Mediplan Diet, we offer a doctor-supervised weight loss plan that is customized for every patient to meet their unique needs to lose weight.
Call Mediplan Diet today for your weight loss needs or book an appointment with us to learn how we can help you achieve your weight loss goals