Wondering how much excess caloric intake results in adding one pound of body fat to your frame?
Just 3,500 of those little suckers.
That's right. When you consume 3500 calories more than you can "afford," you will store one pound of fat on your body.
You "bought" it!
The reverse is true as well. You must create a 3500 calorie deficit in order to lose one pound of body fat.
(Determine how many calories you should eat in a day.) So let's talk for a moment about...
What calories are and where they come from
Food is fuel to your body like gasoline is fuel to your car. Just as you can put different types of fuel into your car - regular, premium, etc. - you can put different types of fuel in your body.
But unlike filling up your car, there's no automatic shut-off when your caloric intake exceeds your body's capacity to burn it.
The 3 types of fuel (nutrients) your body runs on:
Each of these nutrients provides you fuel in the form of calories (kcals).
At a glance, it's easy to see that fat is twice as fattening as carbohydrate and protein, providing 9 calories per gram versus 4.
This fact fueled the "fat free" revolution of the 90's. (Not that you were born then....)
The fact that fat provides the most kcals per gram makes it a prime target for reducing caloric intake. However, you could have a virtually fat free diet and still never lose a pound...
...if your total caloric intake remains too high.
It always comes back to those pesky calories and the fact that calories matter!
Think back to the fat-free free-for-all on supermarket shelves in the 90's. The "fat free mindset" of that era led shoppers to believe they could indulge at will on fat free treats.
People felt entitled to eat larger portions simply because a food was labeled "lowfat" or "fat free." The result? We were eating more reduced fat products than ever before and getting fatter and fatter all the while.
Why? Because we forgot that calories matter. Even "fat free" ones.
The same holds true regarding "low carb" calories. You could follow a "low carb" diet faithfully and never lose an ounce. If you are eating too much protein in lieu of carbs and not reducing calories, those cheese sticks and hamburgers will stick to your thighs despite the lack of carbohydrates.
So it all boils down to the fact that your current weight is perfect exactly where it is right now. Ha! you say? Well...
..."perfect" in the sense that it's a perfect reflection of all the licks and nibbles and sips and bites you have consumed over time. Over a lifetime.
In other words, your current weight is a reflection of the calories you've consumed. If that total adds up to more than you could afford, then you are wearing your extra caloric intake as proof!
If you want to lose one pound in one week...
...then you need to create a 3500 calorie deficit over the course of that week. That means outsmarting 500 of those little calorie suckers a day!
There are lots of ways to do it. You might reduce your caloric intake by 500 per day, or you might reduce it by 250 and exercise another 250 away per day.
Either way, you will be creating a calorie deficit of 500 per day.
(Actually, weight loss via reduced intake and exercise is the preferred method. That way you maintain - or increase - your muscle mass as you lose weight. And increasing muscle mass is actually a way to lose still more weight!)
Meticulous calorie counting is not necessary
However, some calorie awareness is.
You don't need to be a math major to be successful at weight loss. To get a handle on caloric intake, visit Calorie King. Find the kcal counts of 50,000+ foods. Look up your favorites in order to gain some insight about how quickly calories can add up.
Also, become your own weight loss expert by...
...determining where calories are sneaking in to your diet and deciding on small cutbacks that you can make.
Know this: 100 calories less per day translates to 10 pounds of weight loss per year.
Keep in mind the opposite is true too. A 100 calorie excess per day translates to a 10 pound weight gain in that same year.
You decide which it will be for you.
How much weight do you need to lose? Determine a healthy weight for your height.
You may also want to determine your BMI and Waist To Hip Ratio Calculator.
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