If you're on a mission to shed some excess fat, one of the most important things that you absolutely must know about is the calorie.
Your calorie intake is essentially going to make or break your success because calorie intake versus your calorie expenditure is what determines whether your body has to turn to body fat as a source of fuel.
Many people completely overlook calories when dieting, thinking that if they just aim to eat healthy foods the weight will just take care of itself, but this is not always the case.
While eating healthier foods will definitely help promote fat loss, you can still struggle if you're eating too many healthy foods.
Let's have a closer look at what calories are and how they will impact the process of weight loss.
What Is A Calorie
The first thing we have to look at is what a calorie is. Simply put, a calorie is a measurement of energy that can be used as direct fuel for the body. Calories are going to be in any foods that we consume and can be broken down into three different types of calories - protein calories, carbohydrate calories, and dietary fat calories.
You can also take in calories from alcohol as well, but this isn't considered a 'nutrient' for the body since it's not going to benefit you in any way, nor is it necessary for good health.
The calories that are found in alcohol however do still need to be factored into the weight loss equation because it is still energy coming into the body.
The Calorie Balance Equation For Fat Loss
So in order to achieve successful weight loss, your mission is to create what's referred to as a calorie deficit.
What this means is that you're going to be burning off more calories through your resting metabolic rate (which is how many calories your body burns each day to stay alive) as well as through all the various daily activities you perform in comparison to what you take in through your food and beverage intake.
If you can consume less than you burn, you'll lose weight.
If you consume more than you burn, you gain weight.
Weight loss really is that simple and if you get this equation right, you are headed toward success.
One thing to keep in mind is that it will take a total calorie deficit of 3500 calories in order to burn off one pound of body fat.
Are All Calories Created Equally?
So this begs the question, are all calories created equally? Is a calorie from a protein the same as a calorie from a carbohydrate?
The answer is yes and no. Both calories will supply energy to the body, however, they influence the body in different ways.
For example, protein rich foods tend to keep your blood sugar levels stable, while carbohydrate rich foods increase it.
This is due to the make-up of those calories and their main role in the body. When you eat calories from carbohydrate rich foods then, you get that blood sugar increase and then as the blood sugar levels start to fall, this can bring on feelings of hunger. Then this in theory could cause you to consume more food, thus increasing your total daily calorie intake and making further fat loss more difficult.
Another thing to note is that one gram of the different macronutrients contain different levels of calories.
Protein and carbohydrates both contain four calories per gram, while fat contains nine. So when you're eating fat rich foods, the chances that you do take in more calories are going to be higher if you're not watching your serving size.
How Many Calories Do You Need?
The next thing that you need to figure out with respect to calories and weight loss is how many calories your body needs.
While it's impossible to know for sure precisely how many calories you're burning day to day as this will vary based on what your activity level is, there are a number of formulas you can use for estimation purposes.
One very straightforward and simplistic one is to multiply your current bodyweight by 15 calories if you're moderately active and 13 calories if you're sedentary.
This would represent how many calories you should be eating daily if you want to maintain your body weight.
Now, if you want to lose body fat, you must decrease your calorie intake so that you can create the 3500 calorie deficit that we mentioned earlier.
If you want to lose one pound per week, you would decrease your total calorie intake by 500 calories per day (since 7 X 500 = 3500). To lose half a pound per week, you would decrease your calorie intake by 250 calories.
Note that you could also decrease your calorie intake by 250 and increase your energy expenditure by exercising more by 250 to get those same 500 calories as well.
Both will have similar effects on fat loss.
Keep in mind again that this is only an estimation however and you should be adjusting your total daily calorie intake based on the results that you see. After two weeks of eating at a certain calorie level, adjust it as necessary to make sure you're moving in the right direction.
So there you have everything that you need to remember about calories and how they play a role in the fat loss results that you see. Taking the time to acquaint yourself with how many calories are in the common foods that you eat on an everyday basis is one of the easiest ways to make sure for certain that you do lose weight.
When you're counting your daily calorie consumption and weighing it against what your expenditure should be, fat loss becomes very mathematical and very exact. This makes it much easier to see success since you're not constantly guessing why you aren't losing weight.
If you aren't seeing results, you know that you simply need to decrease your calorie intake a little further and then progress should start happening.