You’re reading this because you want to lose weight. You want to know what to eat to help you slim down. And, I’ll give you some good advice, but first, it’s imperative to know that in order to lose weight you have to burn more calories than you eat. Period. No Discussion. The End.
It’s a proven fact and it’s the one sure way to lose weight.
Too bad it’s about a million times harder to do it than it is to know it. That’s especially true in our fast paced world where information is just a click away. But how do you even know what information to trust?
How many times have you searched and seen articles titled something like this:
- 8 Foods to Eat for Weight Loss
- 10 Foods to Avoid for Weight Loss
- Eat More of these 25 foods to Shed Pounds
- Stay away from these 50 foods if you don’t want your weight to blow up like a hot air balloon and float off into the dark abyss of staying fat forever.
Okay maybe that last one is stretching it a bit; but it seems like there are too many articles out there that are just trying to grab your attention with a buzzword, while completely forgetting to educate you about what’s really important.
Understanding what a calorie is and what it does for you is important.
Understanding how many calories you need each day is more important.
Understanding safe ways to cut calories without sacrificing your health might be the most important thing of all when it comes to weight loss.
What is a calorie and what does it do for Me?
A calorie is defined as: a unit of heat used to indicate the amount of energy that foods will produce in the human body.
That definition probably didn’t answer anything for you, so I’ll try to explain. Calories produce energy. Energy is what fuels your body. Your heart, lungs, brain and everything else in your body run on calories. Putting a calorie in your body is like putting gas in your car. It’s an absolutely essential process if you want to live.
Everything you eat contains calories. Much of what you drink contains calories. The number of calories what we eat/drink tell us how much potential energy they can provide.
How Many Calories Do I Need?
If you’ve ever looked at a nutrition label on your favorite food, you may have noticed the following statement:
“*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.”
Sorry FDA, but that’s about the most vague and unhelpful statement you can give anyone trying to understand how to use their food to lose weight
The truth is, everyone’s calorie needs are different. Your age, height, sex, physical activity level, general health, current weight and goal weight are all factors that need to be considered when determining how many calories you need to consume each day. On top of that, each body works differently in how it metabolizes food and the only person who can figure out exactly what you need is YOU.
Thankfully you don’t have to do all the work. You just have to know where to start and be willing to educate yourself through a lot of hard work, some trial and error and consistent record keeping. Using a calorie calculator is a great place to get an idea of where to start. If it’s any good it will tell you how many calories you need to maintain your current weight and how many calories you need to lose weight at a reasonable and healthy rate. (It should also tell you how many you need to gain weight, but who wants to know that)?
There’s also a lot of great fitness websites/apps that can help you track your food and activity each day so that you can stay on track with your weight loss goals. The apps make it easy to keep track of what’s going into your body and help you stay on track for meeting your daily calorie goals.
How can I cut calories for weight loss without sacrificing my health?
First things first. If you want to lose weight you are going to have to count calories.
Next, you need to adjust calories according to your goal
Finally, you need to track your results
- Counting Calories: It is extremely important to keep track of every calorie you put into your body. It’s just as important to know how many calories you use each day. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you eat less calories than you burn, you will lose weight.
- Adjusting Calories: As a general rule of thumb, cutting 500 calories a day will put you on the path to lose one pound a week. But when you’re new to the calorie counting game, figuring out how to do that seems like a daunting task. Thankfully IdealShape, has already done the work for you. Our meal plans and meal replacement shakes provide you the perfect opportunity to adjust your calories and lose weight without losing any of your nutritional needs. You can learn all about both in “IdealPlan,” our book by IdealShape cofounder David Meine and nutritionist Lindsay Matthews.
- Track Results: Counting and adjusting your calories isn’t going to do you any good if you don’t keep track of what’s going on with you and your body. It’s great to keep track of your weight changes, but there are so many more things you can track if you want to achieve the ultimate success. It’s best if you keep a daily food and exercise log where you record everything you eat and everything you do to exercise. Make a spot to note how you feel each day and you’ll soon see patterns emerge that will teach you what foods work best for you.
Understanding, adjusting and tracking your calories play a key role in any weight loss program. If you can master those three elements, you will be on the right path to eating for weight loss and becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be.
It will likely take some work.
It will certainly take some change.
And it will most definitely be worth it.
To understand more about managing your calories, check out these two posts: