You’ve probably heard that you should eat 2,000 calories per day.
What you might not have known is that depending on various factors such as your age, activity level, and gender, you might need more or less. This is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
If you don’t understand why creating a caloric balance is important, or how to do it, you’re likely to struggle with weight issues. We’re here to help you get your weight under control by teaching you more about calories, and why counting them is so important.
What Are Calories?
A calorie is a unit of energy. Humans need calories from food to live, but if we consume too many calories, this can result in becoming overweight.
Think about calories like gas for a car, and you being the car. If you go to the station to fill up, there is only so much room in the tank. If you keep filling the tank after it is full, the gas is going to run out of the tank and overflow onto the ground.
Unlike the car, we don’t overflow the calories, but instead, we store them on our bodies.
How Do You Burn Calories?
Before you start cutting calories, you need to know how they are used in the body. You don’t want to totally cut off calories by stopping your food intake because the body needs those calories to function.
Your body uses calories all of the time–even when you’re sleeping. You might have heard about your basic metabolism, and how you need calories to maintain functions such as your heartbeat, liver function, and more.
Digestion also uses calories, and depending on the food you need, you’ll burn more or fewer calories.
Physical activity is the third way that you burn calories, and this is the most common thing people think about because it’s what you have the most control over. If you want to burn more calories, all you have to do is move more.
You don’t even have to break a sweat to make a difference. Adding more walking to your day will increase the number of calories you burn and make it easier to lose weight if you aren’t overeating.
Why “Calories In, Calories Out” Works
While there are thousands of diets available, the truth is you have to burn more calories than you consume if you want to lose weight. When you eat more calories than your body needs to operate, these calories are stored for future use.
While some of the calories are stored in your muscles, most are stored in the body as fat.
‘Calories in, calories out’ works because of simple math. Eating fewer calories than you use will result in a caloric deficit, which means you’ll lose weight.
Some diets say it doesn’t matter how much you eat, but instead, what you eat–these diets are flawed. Even diets that encourage you to eat this and not that require you keep a food journal and monitor calories.
Not All Calories Are Created Equal
While creating a caloric deficit is necessary, the type of food you consume is important. Different food affects the body in different ways, which is why it’s important to watch what you eat.
Eating 500 calories of donuts is going to make you feel much different than eating a salad that is 500 calories. If you want to feel full (and full of energy), you need to focus on eating a healthy diet.
When you eat food that makes you feel full, you won’t have to fight the feeling of hunger that often sabotages people’s desire to lose weight.
Not only do different foods affect the way you feel, but they also have an effect on your metabolism. Some foods take more work to digest, which means it takes more energy to be metabolized.
For instance, when you eat protein, it takes more energy to metabolize than it does when you are digesting fat.
When you’re trying to lose weight using the ‘calories in, calories out’ method, you need to keep healthy food in mind to achieve weight loss, and feeling good. If you only focus on reducing calories but eat unhealthy food, you may lose weight, but you won’t feel or function well.
Understanding Nutrient Density
The number of nutrients in each food varies. Foods that are nutrient-dense give your body more minerals and vitamins than foods that are less nutrient-dense.
Foods that are more nutrient-dense will give you more benefits when you eat them, which means you should consume more nutrient-dense food than less nutrient-dense food.
Eating food like fruits, vegetables, fish, and dairy products is a good way to add nutrient-dense food to your diet. Stay away from less nutrient-dense foods like candy and other sugary snacks.
Reducing the amount of alcohol you consume is another way to reduce calories that aren’t helpful to your body. Many people consume hundreds of calories from alcohol without noticing it because it is a liquid.
Getting Caloric Balance Under Control
Now that you understand more about caloric balance, you’ll be able to work toward a healthier body.
Giving your body the right number of calories is key, and now you know why it’s important and how to get started.
Our site is full of articles and health calculators that can help you on your journey to better health.