Without a doubt, calories is the most discussed component of food and our daily diets. Calories are directly linked to weight loss and discussed in terms of calories burned. Calories are contained in carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
A simple formula used by many health experts and the government is "Calories In - Calories Out." The basic concept is that if you want to maintain your weight then your calories in should equal your calories out. Basically burn what you consume. The simple equation is right, but it is difficult to do as many of us don't really know how many Calories Out we have, or what we burn on a daily basis.
This web site can be a resource to helping you track your calories in and out.The Food Journal helps you track what you eat and the Activity Journal helps you track what you burn. For those of us just starting out on our journey, the information can help educate us on the type of exercises we may enjoy that also help us burn those calories.
Most, if not all, of the experts who help us with our health goals tell us to track what we eat and track what we do. Keeping a journal not only helps you become accountable to yourself, but it also gives you the simple facts, in black and white. You can also share this information with your family and partners who are helping you. This web site can help you start your journal.
What is your plan? Every person's body is unique and may have different caloric needs. A healthy lifestyle requires balance, in the foods you eat, in the beverages you consume, in the way you carry out your daily activities, and in the amount of physical activity or exercise you include in your daily routine. While counting calories is not necessary, it may help you in the beginning to gain an awareness of your eating habits as you strive to achieve energy balance.
- The ultimate test of balance is whether or not you are gaining, maintaining, or losing weight.
- You can also cut calories by eating foods high in fiber, making better drink choices, avoiding portion size pitfalls, and adding more fruits and vegetables to your eating plan.
- Even a modest weight loss, such as 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight, can produce health benefits.
- Physical activity can increase the number of calories your body uses for energy or "burns off." The burning of calories through physical activity, combined with reducing the number of calories you eat, creates a "calorie deficit" that can help with weight loss.
Q: Are fat-free and low-fat foods low in calories?
A: Not always. Some fat-free and low-fat foods have extra sugars, which push the calorie amount right back up. The following list of foods and their reduced fat varieties will show you that just because a product is fat-free, it doesn't mean that it is "calorie-free." And, calories do count! See FAT-Free Versus Calorie Comparison for more information. Always read the Nutrition Facts food label to find out the calorie content. Remember, this is the calorie content for one serving of the food item, so be sure and check the serving size. If you eat more than one serving, you'll be eating more calories than is listed on the food label. For more information about the Nutrition Facts food label, visit How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Food Label.
Q: If I eat late at night, will these calories automatically turn into body fat?
A: The time of day isn't what affects how your body uses calories. It's the overall number of calories you eat and the calories you burn over the course of 24 hours that affects your weight.
Q: I've heard it is more important to worry about carbohydrates than calories. Is this true?
A: By focusing only on carbohydrates, you can still eat too many calories. Also, if you drastically reduce the variety of foods in your diet, you could end up sacrificing vital nutrients and not be able to sustain the diet over time.
Q: Does it matter how many calories I eat as long as I'm maintaining an active lifestyle?
A: While physical activity is a vital part of weight control, so is controlling the number of calories you eat. If you consume more calories than you use through normal daily activities and physical activity, you will still gain weight.
Q. What other factors contribute to overweight and obesity?
A: Besides diet and behavior, environment, and genetic factors may also have an effect in causing people to be overweight and obese. For more, see Other Factors in Weight Gain.
Information on this page has been in part provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our local community resources. Before starting any physical activity program or dietary change please consult your health care professional or physician.