Counting Calories

CountingCaloriesThe following article is a small excerpt from one of my books. I hope you’ll want to learn more and let me help you to get into the best shape of your life.


Counting calories isn’t rocket science. It’s more like basic physics, or at least the first law of thermodynamics, that energy can be changed from one form to another, but can not be created or destroyed. Burn the 3,500 calories that make up a pound of body fat, and you’re that much lighter.

But if it was only that simple, you could stop here, and anyone with a pen, paper, and a calculator could slim down without a struggle. Truth is, if you’re trying to lose weight, the source of your calories matters, as does the type of exercise you combine with a low-cal diet.

If you are consuming too many calories from fatty, sugary, low-nutrient foods, clearly you won’t be getting all the valuable nutrients you need for your body to function optimally. To sustain weight loss, it’s key to keep activity level up and mix up exercises so you’re using different muscle groups or stimulating your muscles in different ways.

You’re not alone if you’re feeling a little clueless about calories. While 77 percent of people say they are trying to lose or maintain weight, only 19 percent track calories. Only 12 percent can accurately target the number of calories they should consume in a day, while 43 percent have trouble estimating how many calories they burn during everyday activities. In my books Get fit stay Fit, and the Best You Can Be, I teach you how to calculate the number of calories you need to maintain, gain or lose weight.

Knowing the facts about energy intake and expenditure can help you pinpoint why the needle on the scale gets stuck. There are also calculators on this website that will help you figure out how many calories you burn on a certain activity with more detailed calculations in my books.

Not All Calories are Equal

It’s like the old saying, “What weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound or rocks?” If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight.

But this isn’t a free pass. Calories from protein and fats are more filling than calories from carbohydrate sources. If you are trying to reduce your calorie intake and are eating calories mainly from carbohydrates, you may find yourself hungry, making it hard to stay within your calorie range.

The healthiest calories come from whole grains, high-fiber carbohydrates, lean proteins, andunsaturated fats. These whole foods require more energy (or simply burn more calories) to eat, digest, and absorb compared with refined or processed foods.

“Negative Calories” Don’t Exist

Some believe that negative calorie foods, like celery, lettuce, apples and grapefruit, are the magic bullet for weight loss.

There really is no scientific evidence proving that certain foods will cause your body to burn more calories to digest them than the calories already in the food. However, foods that have been listed as negative calorie foods are mostly low-calorie, high-fiber vegetables. Increasing the amount of these foods in your meal plan will help promote weight loss since you will find yourself feeling full from the fiber and eating fewer calories from other foods.

This negative calorie theory is because of the thermic effect of food.  Consuming foods such as chili peppers and other foods that have capsaicin can help your body burn a small amount of calories because they raise body temperature and boost metabolism. But don’t eat these foods expecting that doing so will help you consume fewer total calories and lose weight.

The number of calories offset by eating, digesting, and absorbing negative energy foods is negligible. Don’t expect real results from snacking on asparagus and blueberries all day without making significant changes to your diet and exercise habits.

The Best Diet is a Low-Cal Diet

When combined with exercise, any diet that restricts calories should result in weight loss, regardless of which macronutrients are emphasized or downplayed.

In a recent survey researchers assigned 811 overweight adults to one of four diets emphasizing various levels of fat, protein, and carbs. Each dieter was instructed to slash 750 calories a day, exercise for 90 minutes daily, keep a food diary, and meet with a diet counselor. After 6 months, study participants across all groups lost an average of 13 pounds.

While macronutrients are important, a focus on calorie counting should trump restricting fat or carbohydrates, and  a diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, low- or non-fat dairy, beans, nuts, and seeds is recommended. Limit foods with too much sugar or too much solid fat, and limit alcohol, which contribute lots of calories but few nutrients to your diet.

Tracking calories is the key to successful weight loss, write down everything you eat for a few days in order to calculate your usual calorie intake. Subtract 500 from this amount without going below 1,200 calories. If you stick to this calorie range each day, you will lose 1 pound per week.

To meet nutrient needs and ward off hunger, don’t forget to balance out where your calories come from. Depending on your activity level, 50 to 65 percent of your calories should come from carbs, 10 to 20 percent from protein, and 20 to 25 percent from healthy, unsaturated fats.

Keep portions small for foods or beverages that are sugary, fatty, and otherwise nutrient-poor, that way you won’t feel deprived.

Real Results Require Exercise

You’ve cut calories and made a meaningful effort to consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods. You’re almost there, but there’s one more piece of the weight loss puzzle: the gym.

Diet alone is not enough to promote significant weight loss. Researchers fed monkeys a high-fat diet for several years, then cut caloric intake by 30 percent for sedentary monkeys and made no changes to the diets of those that were trained to exercise on a treadmill for 60 minutes each day. After a month, the exercise group weighed less, while sedentary monkeys experienced declines in energy and lost no weight.

In the beginning, you can start slow then ramp up your exercise efforts. The heavier you are, the more calories you burn per minute. For instance, if a 120-pound woman ran for 20 minutes at 6 miles per hour and a 150-pound woman ran at the same speed for the same amount of time, the 150-pound woman would have burned a bit more calories.

60 minutes of physical activity on most days is recommended in order to keep pounds off.

To make the most of your gym sessions, try short bursts of high intensity exercise, which burn more calories than consistent-rate cardio, like jogging on the treadmill at a set speed. Three, 15-minute, high-intensity interval workouts per week leads to greater reductions in total body mass, fat loss, and leg and trunk mass, compared with steady-state exercise at the same frequency.
Weight Loss Slows Metabolism
If you have a very large amount of weight to lose, you may find that you hit a weight loss plateau over time. As your body gets smaller, it does not have to work as hard to move around and circulate nutrients, which can slightly reduce your overall metabolic rate.

When you lose weight, your metabolism slows due to a loss of lean body mass. And as you get older, your bodies naturally want to gain fat and lose muscle.

The more pounds you take off, the fewer calories you need to stay at your new weight. It doesn’t sound fair, but there is one bonus: If you increase total muscle mass at your new weight, then you may be able to eat more and not gain weight.

To hang on to muscle and keep your metabolism up as the number on the scale goes down, eating protein-rich foods in small amounts and most importantly, performing weight training on all muscle groups two to three times per week. Losing weight in a slow and steady rate, no more than two pounds per week, can also help minimize muscle loss.

If you hit a plateau, increase physical activity and decrease calories by another 100 to 200 calories per day without dropping below 1,200, which could further slow your metabolism. And don’t forget to use the calorie counters in my book to figure out your new daily calorie amounts as your weight decreases.

I know you want to get in shape and look great.  Whatever your fitness goal…to slim down…gain muscle…tone your arms or flatten your tummy…I’m here to help you accomplish your goals and to improve your fitness level. If you have enjoyed this article and the many other free features on my site, and would like some more comprehensive information such as fitness books and CD’s to aid you in achieving your health and fitness goals, please visit my ONLINE STORE where you will find innovative natural health and beauty products to help you become the BEST YOU CAN BE !