By Betty Murray
The types and amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you take in on a daily basis matter. But ultimately, what matters when it comes to weight loss and weight management is calories. Balancing how many calories you take in with the number of calories your body burns is the secret to losing weight and keeping it off.
What’s your caloric balance? If you are maintaining your current weight, you are consuming about the same amount of calories your body is using. If you are gaining weight, you’re in caloric excess, which means you’re consuming more calories than your body is burning. If you are losing weight, it means you’re in caloric deficit, and eating fewer calories than your body is using.
When the body is in caloric deficit, it begins to pull stored fat from cells in the body to use as energy, thus reducing the amount of fat in your body and decreasing your weight.
How many calories should I consume?
Keep in mind that one bound of body fat is equal to approximately 3,500 calories. Start by keeping a food journal and writing down all the foods and drinks you consume each day. This will help you have a better understanding of how many calories you’re consuming on a daily basis. Also keep track of your daily physical activity and the length of time you do it.
Not sure how many calories you’re eating or how many you’re losing through exercise? MyFitnessPal is a great free resource to track your food and exercise to find out if you are in caloric balance. MyFitnessPal will also show you the nutrients that are in your food, so you can easily see if you are getting enough vitamins, minerals, protein, etc.
A Fitbit is another tool you can use to help you stay motivated by tracking your physical activity. Fitbit will sync with MyFitness Pal to give you an accurate picture of your daily calories in/calories out.
How much exercise do I need?
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes (30 minutes, five days a week) of moderate intensity exercise per week for the average adult. This recommendation is based on keeping the heart healthy and strong. If you want to lose weight, you may need to increase the amount and intensity of your exercise.
Remember, some exercise is better than no exercise. You do not have to get in a full 30 minutes of exercise at one time. If your schedule does not allow you to spend that much time exercising at once, break it down into smaller segments throughout the day. Ten minutes here or there will make a big difference.
By using tools like Fitbit and MyFitness Pal, you can easily keep track of the calories you consume and the calories you burn on a daily basis, giving you the information and the motivation you need to meet your weight loss goals.
Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.