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Calorie Needs to Lose Weight
Calorie Expenditure Must Exceed Calorie Intake
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Calorie Needs to Lose Weight

Once you know the number of calories needed to MAINTAIN your weight, you can easily calculate the number of calories you should consume to achieve your weight loss goal.

To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. How? By reducing your calorie-intake slightly below your maintenance level. Alternatively, keep your calorie-intake static and increase your activity above your current level.

A Calorie (Energy) Deficit is Essential to Lose Body Fat

Calories determine fat loss. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will not lose fat, no matter what foods or food combinations you consume. True, some foods (e.g. dietary fat) get stored as fat more easily than others (carbs), but even healthy food is converted to fat tissue if it is surplus to your energy needs. It's not possible to circumvent the laws of thermodynamics and energy balance. To burn fat you must create a calorie deficit between calories-in and calories-out. This calorie deficit forces your body to use stored body fat to find the required energy and make up the deficit.

Lose One Pound of Body Weight by Reducing Calorie Intake by 3500 Calories

There are approximately 3500 calories in a pound of stored body fat. So, if you create a 3500-calorie deficit through diet, exercise or a combination of both, you will lose one pound of body weight. (On average 75 percent of this is fat, 25 percent lean tissue.) If you create a 7000 calorie deficit you will lose two pounds and so on. The calorie deficit can be achieved either by calorie-restriction alone, or by a combination of fewer calories-in (diet) and more calories-out (exercise). This combination of diet and exercise is best for lasting weight loss. Indeed, sustained weight loss is difficult or impossible without increased regular exercise.

How Few Calories to Lose Weight

If you cut calories too low, your body thinks there is a food shortage and slows down your metabolism to eke out the calories. As well as causing this slower metabolic rate, eating too few calories may decrease thyroid output and cause loss of lean body mass. In addition, you may feel extra tired, irritable and completely de-motivated to follow any weight loss diet plan. All this is bad news for weight loss, which invariably slows down and may even stop completely.

Lose Weight Too Fast and You'll Lose Water

Many weight loss diets and diet plans involving weight loss pills or supplements encourage very fast weight loss - often in excess of 3-4 pounds per week. This is both unhealthy and ineffective. The average healthy human body simply will not shed more than about 2 pounds of fat, per week. But it will shed water, which is what most fast weight loss is - just water loss!

Lose Between 1 and 2 Pounds of Weight, Maximum

If you want to lose fat, a useful guideline for lowering your calorie intake is to reduce your calories by at least 500, but not more than 1000 below your maintenance level. For people with only a small amount of weight to lose, 1000 calories will be too much of a deficit. As a guide to minimum calorie intake, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that calorie levels never drop below 1200 calories per day for women or 1800 per day for men. Even these calorie levels are quite low.

Calorie Deficit Based on Percentage of Body Weight or Daily Calorie Maintenance Needs

An alternative way of calculating a safe minimum calorie-intake level is by reference to your body weight or current body weight. Reducing calories by 15-20 percent below your daily calorie maintenance needs is a useful start. You may increase this depending on your weight loss goals.

Healthy Weight Loss and Calorie Reduction is Combined with Exercise

In order to lose weight, calories should not be your only concern. Exercise is vital, too. So if you want to lose fat, maintain your energy and improve health, get active and take regular physical exercise.


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