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Calorie Count Your Way To Permanent Weight Loss
Calorie counting, the process of figuring out and recording how many calories you eat each day, has been around for years. Although some people find it too much trouble, others find that it motivates them and helps them become more aware of what and how much they eat each day. It has its limitations, but calorie counting remains popular and can be an effective tool to help you lose weight, gain weight, or even maintain your current weight.
A calorie is a unit of energy. All cells in your body require energy to function, and they consume or burn calories to obtain energy. To replenish its energy intake, the body needs calories from food and drink. If the body does not get enough calories from these sources, it will eventually draw energy from its fat stores and the result will be weight loss. If the body takes in more calories than it burns, most of those excess calories will end up stored as fat, causing weight gain. Calories in and calories out exist in a relationship. Burn more calories than you take in and you will lose weight.
Calorie counting is most often used by people looking to do just that: lose weight. For overweight people, the health benefits of losing weight are well known. Less known is the link between weight and osteoarthritis. Overweight people are more at risk of osteoarthritis in the hips and especially in the knees. A loss of even 5 pounds can help substantially relieve the load on the knee joints. This puts many people in a difficult situation as their arthritis makes it more difficult to exercise, the need to reduce weight becomes more pressing. For these people, cutting calories may necessarily play a bigger role than exercise in weight loss strategies, and calorie counting may make cutting easier.
How many calories do I need? The recommended starting point is to estimate how many calories per day you need to maintain your current weight. This depends on your gender, height, weight, age and activity level. You can use an internet calculator like http://www.mypyramid.gov.
Enter your pertinent information, and the calculator provides an estimate of how many calories you need each day to maintain your weight. If you don’t have internet access and want to estimate your calorie needs yourself, you can use this simple formula. Multiply your current weight by 10 and increase the result by 30%. If you weigh 150 pounds, for example, multiply by 10 and you get 1500. Add to that 30% of 1500 which is 450 and you get a total of 1950 cal. Estimating this way is pretty rough and ready because it doesn’t take into account factors like age, gender, and different activity levels. But it can give you a general idea of your calorie needs and be a starting point for calorie counting.
Remember, the number you’re trying to come up with with this calculation is an estimate of what you need to maintain your weight. To lose weight, you’re going to have to cut any number you can think of. To lose a pound in a week, eat 500 fewer calories per day than your weight maintenance levels. To gain weight, do the opposite and eat an extra 500 calories a day to gain a pound a week.
500 fewer calories a day is considered a good place for weight loss. Cutting more than 500 cal can be counterproductive and dangerous. Also, people generally shouldn’t have fewer than about 1200 calories per day, unless under medical supervision. If cutting 500 calories seems like more than you can handle, or if it would take you below the 1200 level, don’t be discouraged. Even a more modest reduction of 100 calories a day can help you lose 10 pounds in a year.
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