Listen up. If you've spent any time at all either trying to lose weight, learning how to do so, or even knowing somebody who's trying to do it - you'll probably come across some kind of calorie counting aspect. And of course, most of the really popular weight loss programs revolve around counting and controlling your caloric intake. But there's something these programs don't seem to tell you while they're cashing your monthly check, and that's how easy counting calories can be.
You don't need a calculator, a big poster sized chart chart, or any of that other stuff. Read on and I'll tell you (almost) everything you need to know.
If you want to know how many calories to burn per day, you need to think in terms of energy, because that's what calories measure.
I know, you probably learned most of this stuff in middle school, but some of your less educated peers must have been dozing off and getting that post-recess nap or something. Because people tend to "freak out" when they hear that other "c-word" bandied about. But the truth is, calories keep us healthy, and we need those calories in order to live!
How do we get that energy? From food and drink. Whip out your chalkboard, it's math time. Don't you groan at me!
Let's say that someone has a calorie intake of 3,000 per day. In order to maintain their current weight, they would also need to burn (or "oxidise") exactly that amount. In order to gain weight, they would need to burn less than 3,000 calories per day.
For example, in order to gain weight at a rate of 1lb per week, they would need to burn around 2,400 calories. And, in order to lose weight, they would need to burn more than 3,000 calories. So, flipping the previous sum around, this person would need to burn approximately 3,600 calories per day, in order to lose weight at a rate of 1lb per week.
So, in mathematical terms:
Calories burned - Calories taken in = Calories lost (weight lost)
e.g. 3,600 - 3,000 = 600 (1lb)
And, that's basically it. If you're trying to make a weight loss plan that reaches some "target" you've set in your mind, you shouldn't have a problem setting realistic goals. Obviously, foods have different quantities of calories in them. Whilst a chocolate bar or an energy drink will be high in calories, root vegetables will be low in calories. There has been a large amount of legislation over the past couple of decades which now means that the amount of calories contained within food is frequently displayed on packaging: especially on food and drink items where calorie content is particularly high.
The Three Ways To Burn Calories
Now, if you really, really only needed to know how many calories you should be burning, you're set. But if you're actually interested in how to keep those pesky calories off once you start putting them inside you, well then you've come to the right place. Calories are burned in three different ways.
A whopping 60% of calories is burned through your 'Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)'. These are the calories which need to be burned simply for the function of staying alive. If you were to do nothing but lay in a bed all day, these calories would still be burned. They are needed in order to keep your body working. Now, what's cool is that if you're working out in the right way (ie, strength training) you're going to naturally raise your BMR anyway. Pretty nice, huh?
30% of calories are burned through activity. This could be anything from dipping one's hand into a bag of your favourite potato chips to a cross-country sprint. Obviously, these activities will bring about a different amount of calorie burning, but they still both burn calories. However, it must be made clear that, for people who live entirely sedentary lives - i.e. do not move very much - the amount of calories lost via activity can be as low as 15%. That kind of knowledge helps explain how a little bit of inactivity can easy lead to big weight gain.
10% of calories are burned through digesting food. This means eating, absorbing, digesting and using food.Drawing from these three methods of calorie burning, it is clear to see which methods can be employed to burn more calories. And that's activity! Listen, you really don't need to be a basketball player or a rugby star in order to increase the amount calories burned through activity. Once you've figured out how many calories to burn per day, you can burn them off just by making simple changes to your day. Walking to the shop rather than taking the car, having a wander around while waiting for an appointment to commence, and parking as far away from the building as possible, within the confines of the parking lot are all good ideas.
Also: eat regularly and lightly. Five small meals per day will keep your digestive system working harder, and therefore, you will burn more calories through digestion than you would by having two or three meals per day. Also, this will should help to prevent you from snacking, in between meals.
There are many other ways in which you can burn calories. However, the most important thing to remember is the following popular phrase: 'Keep moving'. From drumming your fingers to tapping your feet, keep your body working, no matter what you may be otherwise be doing.
Brad Fiorentine writes for Make A Weight Loss Plan. It's a great source for motivation and useful tips, and subscribers get a free copy of our free guide to lasting weight control!
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