Thinking of dieting? Not sure how to get started? Let’s start off with the basics.
First and foremost, you must know how many calories to consume a day to maintain and lose weight.
What’s The Average Number Of Calories You Should Eat Each Day?
One of the most accurate and reliable ways to determine your caloric intake to maintain or lose weight is to use the National Institute of Health Body Weight Planner.
Unique to this calculator is that it takes into account a variety of factors that affect your required caloric intake to maintain or lose weight such as your gender, age, current weight and height, and activity level.
How to Think of Calories?
A calorie of food is a unit of energy that we use for our physiologically metabolic processes.
There are three main sources of calories: fat (9 calories per gram), carbohydrate (4 calories per gram), and protein (4 calories per gram).
The old adage that “a calorie is a calorie” is not true. The quality of your calorie has a direct impact on your health and weight loss goals.(1)
According to a Harvard study, we should select to eat calories that are high-quality foods, such as those that are unrefined, and minimally processed foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats.
How To Find Out How Many Calories You Should Eat Per Day
It is best to use the nih Body Weight Planner to find the target caloric intake you need to maintain your weight and to hit your target weight in a specific time frame. Remember, everyone has different parameters for caloric intake. If you have a twin sister who is the exact age, gender, and weight as you, but happens to be a world class athlete that trains daily, then her calorie intake requirement will be much higher than yours to just maintain her weight.
If you are sedentary and adopt her caloric intake you will gain weight!
Thus, you need to focus on calorie calculators that are proven to be accurate and help lose weight.
This is highly recommended so you can directly monitor your intake of protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, mineral and vitamins. This will help you make adjustments as you tailor your diet.
How To Diet Without Starving
The best way to create a calorie deficit is to first calculate how many calories you need to eat to reach your target weight in the appropriate time frame. This gives you a goal.
For example, if you need to eat 2400 calories a day to lose 12 pounds over 8 weeks then this is your goal. You can now safely divide 2400 by the number of meals you will eat a day which can be 4-6 meals.
So if you eat 4 meals then each meal should have 600 calories, and if you eat 6 meals, then each meal will have 400 calories.
This gives you flexibility in a diet that fits your schedule. But you should ensure that each meal has sufficient protein so that you can lose weight.(2)
Here are the 5 best ways to lose weight that is packed up with years of proven scientific research.
1.Reduce Intake of Sugary Drinks
One of the simplest ways to reduce your sugar intake of poor quality calories is to reduce your intake of sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, fruit juice, chocolate milk, and other drinks loaded with sugar.
These drinks have been shown numerous times to be linked towards obesity. Soft drinks have been linked to increase the risk of metabolic syndrome, which consists of obesity(3), hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hypertriglyceridemia, and low hdl cholesterol(4).
The high fructose in soft drinks has shown repeatedly to be linked with weight gain.(5)
In regards to long-term complications, consuming sugary drinks has also been shown to correlate to increased risk of stroke and dementia.(6)
Pregnant women are at a higher risk for gestational diabetes(7), which puts the mother and baby at risk for complications.
Most notable, infants can be born large for gestational age (macrosomia), and be at risk for hypoglycemia, jaundice, polycythemia (high red blood cell mass), or even respiratory distress syndrome.(8)
2. Eat Less Carbs
Counting carbohydrates has been an effective way to maintain and decrease weight.(9)
Eating carbohydrates is important for energy. However, it is easy to over eat carbohydrates since they are so abundant in foods.
In fact, if you consume more calories than you burn this results in weight gain. You should avoid refined grains found in white rice or white flour, cereals, or breads. (10)
These foods are more likely to be stored as fat and are poor sources of sustainable energy. You should strive to eat a balance of low carbohydrate and low fat food in your diet for weight loss.(11, 12)
When we eat less our metabolism will slow and we become less effective at burning calories to lose weight.
In order to enhance our metabolism and boost the fat burning process you need to exercise. Numerous studies have shown overtime that low caloric intake and exercise are highly effective in weight loss.(15)
You should strive to incorporate both aerobic training (running, swimming, cycling, or even dancing) and weightlifting into your training as this increases muscle mass to help burn more calories to enhance fat loss.(19, 20)
4. Add Protein to Your Diet
You should strive to eat protein that is low in saturated fat, but high in protein. The best protein sources are chicken, eggs, nuts, sea food, and soy and low-fat dairy products such as milk or yogurt.
You can even switch up the type of protein you have with each meal. For breakfast eat egg whites or add cottage cheese and nuts to your yogurt.
The protein will enhance your metabolism and plays an important role in weight loss, and reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular complications.(21)
Protein in your diet plays a vital role in both building strength and providing sustainable long term weight loss.(22)
Protein may also be added to your diet with whey protein shakes as this is a low calorie drink that can help you reach your protein intake goals for the day.(23)
5. Drink more water
Water is a key player in your weight loss goals as increased hydration is associated with weight loss due to both decrease in feeding and an increase in fat burning through lipolysis.(24)
Studies show that when 500mL of water is drank prior to eating a meal, this leads to greater weight loss than a low calorie diet alone! (25)
In fact, a systemic review was done recently that indicated that water alone, rather than drinking a low calorie sweeten beverage, is more effective for weight loss. (26)
When you drink more water you actually feel fuller, so you are less likely to overeat. In addition, staying hydrated helps the cells continue their metabolic functions to enhance the fat burning process.
Rajiv M Mallipudi, md, mhs is an internal medicine resident physician, personal trainer, athlete and author. He has over a decade of personal training experience and helped hundreds of clients of all levels achieve their weight loss and fitness goals. This inspired him to work as a clinical researcher at the nationally recognized Johns Hopkins Hospital Weight Management Center. During medical school he and his classmates created the health and wellness organization, medfit, which provided personal training and nutrition counseling to the medical student body. In his spare time, Dr. Mallipudi enjoys playing ice hockey, dancing, and training for his next bodybuilding and powerlifting competitions. Dr. Mallipudi serves as a contributing writer for the Diet and Fitness sections.
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