Do you know how many calories you’ve eaten today? Is that number greater than the total you could afford to eat if you wanted to lose or maintain your weight? Most people trying to be healthy or lose weight don’t have the answers to these questions. If you don’t either, it may be time to step up your game.
There are an abundance of weight loss plans that focus completely on one macronutrient or gimmick. You’ve seen them: “Only eat bananas!” or, “Only eat meat!” With so many fads all around you, I understand if the manual labor of counting calories can seem off-putting or like it’s too much work. But if you want to lose weight at a consistent rate, there really is no other option.
When it comes to maintaining weight loss, you don’t need to cut out carbs or focus on only eating one thing. Long-term weight loss comes as the result of one of the most basic equations you’ve ever seen: Fewer calories in than calories out. Your body is constantly burning calories just to stay alive. When you exercise, you burn even more. If you want to want to maintain weight loss, you need to track how many calories you burn per day as well as how many you consume. If consumption is lower than calories burned, you’ll lose weight.
Am I making sense? Let me break it down into a few easy-to-follow rules:
Rule 1: Find your daily required amount of calories.
Determining how many calories you need to consume to maintain your current weight is dependent upon a few factors including age, height, weight, gender, and activity level. Your body will utilize almost sixty percent of the calories you consume just to keep your basic functions going. It’s the rest of your calorie intake that fuels your ability to walk around, exercise, or complete an important e-mail.
The first thing to do is find your Base Metabolic Rate (BMR). For women, multiply your weight by ten. For men, multiply it by eleven. This is your BMR. Next, add twenty percent to your BMR if you live a sedentary lifestyle, thirty percent if you are somewhat active, forty percent if you’re moderately active, or fifty percent if you’re very active.
Your final number after this quick addition is the approximate total of calories you need to consume each day to maintain your current weight. So, if you’re a woman and you weigh one hundred and forty five pounds, your BMR is one thousand four hundred and fifty calories. You’re then allotted an additional four hundred and thirty five calories because of your activity level. This places your daily calorie goal to maintain your weight at approximately one thousand, eight hundred and eighty five calories. Losing one pound a week would be as simple as cutting or burning five hundred calories a day.
Rule 2: Count your calories as you consume them.
There are tons of tools online and on your phone that can help you to count your calories. If it comes down to it, you can use a pen and paper. If you’re exercising regularly, make sure you count how many calories you burn and subtract them from the total.
You can easily cut five hundred calories from your daily intake by making some simple changes to your meals. By drinking water with breakfast instead of juice, swapping your chips for cucumbers, and replacing your salad dressing with a lighter-calorie option, you can save over three hundred calories! Small changes at dinner and some light exercising is likely to break through the five hundred calorie deficit you need pretty easily.
Rule 3: Track your portions.
This rule ties directly into the last one and can even be replacement for counting calories once you’re skilled enough. Controlling and tracking your portions allows you to have a firm grasp on how much of something you’re eating. Here’s a few tips to help you recognize what a proper portion looks like:
Picture serving your food out of a tennis ball. That’s about a cup of food and is the most common portion for food you’ll run into.
Always eat your food outside of its container. There is almost no way to measure how much you’re eating this way.
Grab smaller plates. A healthy portion of food can look like nothing when the plate is too big. It’s okay to trick yourself to make progress.
Snack on and spoil yourself with healthier foods. Mindlessly munching on celery sticks during the day and adding a little peanut butter before bed is a great way to keep yourself satiated without going over your caloric limit.