When you’re trying to lose weight, you want to have a calorie deficit. This means you eat less calories than you normally eat in order for your body to slim down. While this is common knowledge when dieting, many people don’t actually know why or the science behind it. They simply follow the diet plan, asking no questions.
However, it’s important to really understand why you’re eating less calories and why you’ll need to make sure that the calories you are ingesting are beneficial to reach your overall weight loss goals. Calories are tricky things and not all calories are created equal! It’s vital to understand why they are and why they are important for weight loss so that you can sustain your results long-term.
What Are Calories
As mentioned above, you’ll want to create a calorie deficit for your body if you want to see the scale move in the right direction. This allows your body to burn more calories than you consume, thus burning fat. So, with this said, not only do you need to eat less, but you’ll want to move more in order to burn more calories through increased activity.
One calorie is a unit of energy for your body. So, everything you eat, and drink can be broken down to how many calories it has. Each calorie then gives you energy throughout the day, regardless if you’re working out or not. Simply walking up a flight of stairs will use calories as energy to push you up each step. You can find a food’s nutritional information on the packaging and many restaurants now list how many calories a meal has on the menu.
Calories are essential for your health and the key is eating the right amount for your body. Everyone has different amounts of energy requirements and even yours might not be the same every day. Factors that play into how many calories you should be eating include age, size, sex and activity level.
There are two types of calories: a small calorie (cal) and a large one (kcal). A small calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1-degree Celsius. A large calorie is how much energy needed to raise 1 kilogram of water by 1-degree Celsius. So, 1 large calorie is equal to 1,000 small calories.
In the United States, the average man needs about 2,700 kcal a day, while the average woman needs about 2,200 calories each day. But, again, no one needs the same number of calories every day because people have different kinds of metabolisms and will burn energy at different rates. Also, some people have more active lifestyles than others.
If you only consume the necessary calories you need each day, you’ll live a healthy life. But go over and you’ll end up gaining weight and increase your chances of having health problems. The number of calories a food has lets us know how much potential energy it has. But calories aren’t the only thing that’s important since the substance in which the calorie is taken also matters. A nutritional information box will also inform you of how many carbohydrates, protein and fat food has and their calorie breakdown.
There are also empty calories that provide energy for your body but have little nutritional value. The majority of empty calories come from added sugars and solid fats. Although they both make food taste better, they add lots of empty calories and can lead to weight gain and obesity. Alcohol is another source of empty calories.
So, the type of calories matters as much as how many your body needs for energy. When you consume more calories than your body burns for energy, you’ll gain weight. When thinking about calories in your weight loss journey, you need to also consider your level of physical activity. A high intake of calories can be counted with high-intensity exercise, which is what many athletes do practice when training for their sport.
How Calories Are Important for Weight Loss
The less calories you consume, the more weight you can lose. If you consume about 2,500 calories a day and then cut back to only 1,500 a day, you’re obviously going to lose weight thanks to that 1,000-calorie deficit. But eating the right kind of calories matters when you’re on a weight loss regime. That’s because when it comes to dropping pounds and keeping them off, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes inside your bodies than just the number of calories you eat and burn.
When it comes to calories, quality is more important than quantity. Even if you cut back on how many calories you eat, you might not be getting essential nutrients needed to improve your overall health, which will only help make your weight loss goals more sustainable.
Eating balanced meals will ensure that you’re getting the nutrients your body needs to be healthy and will keep you fuller for longer. If you eat too many empty calories or too few ones, you’ll feel hungry all the time. This increases your chances of binging later and eating unhealthy things.
Even if you’re counting calories to lose weight a bad diet will eventually catch up to you and you’ll end up gaining the weight back or hit a roadblock in how much weight you lose. It doesn’t matter if you’re exercising all the time, either, because a bad diet will eventually cause you to gain weight.
Losing weight is a lifestyle and counting calories isn’t a quick fix. If you want to lose weight, you’ll need to make sure you’re eating healthy and at a deficit, while also getting in some exercise. Only then will you see results!