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Now we have spent some time focusing on what our goals are and our plans might be for the coming year, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of why we focus on calories, for you to achieve your weight loss goals at Be Strong. We know that whilst we aren’t all about weight loss, it is a major reason that members join us, and we are keen on making sure that everyone who comes to Be Strong understands the real way to lose weight, and lose it for good.
Our body weight is a balancing act, and calories play a starring role in how the scales balance. Despite all the different diet strategies that you may have tried in the past, seen in magazines or on the internet, ultimately weight management comes down to the energy in vs energy out. Get the two elements the same and your weight stays the same, tip it one direction or another, and your weight will go in one direction or another also.
Fad diets may promise you that avoiding carbohydrates or fats, eating a mountain of grapefruit, drinking ‘special’ coffee or rubbing bees wax on your knees is the secret to weight loss, but all it really comes down to is eating fewer calories than your body is using if you want to lose fat. And sometimes that can be a difficult pill to swallow!
Tell us what fad diets or strategies you have used in the comments section below.
Calories fuel your body
Calories are the energy in food. Your body has a constant demand for energy and uses the calories from food to keep functioning. Energy from calories fuels your every action, from simply breathing to marathon running and everything in between.
Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are what we term macronutrients. These macronutrients or macros as they are often termed all contain calories and are therefore the main energy sources for your body. Regardless of where they come from, the calories you eat are either converted to physical energy or stored within your body as fat.
These stored calories will remain in your body as fat unless you use them up, either by reducing calorie intake so that your body must draw on it’s reserves for energy, or by increasing physical activity so that you burn more calories.
Tipping the scale
The weight management equation is simple: If you eat more calories than your body burns, you gain weight. And if you eat fewer calories than your body burns, you lose weight.
Because 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound (0.45 kilogram) of fat, it’s estimated that you need to burn about 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound.
So, in general, if you cut about 500 to 1,000 calories a day from your typical diet, you’d lose about 1 to 2 pounds a week.
As an example Sandra’s Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is 1231 calories – BMR is the number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest, if you just led in bed all day doing nothing.
With the level of exercise and activity that Sandra undertakes, she should aim to eat 1,908 calories each day to maintain her current weight. If she wants to lose weight she should aim to eat 1,308 calories each day. That should see her lose 1 to 2lbs each week, although it’s not an exact science.
Your calorie bank account
We like to think of calories like your bank balance. This morning Sandra had 1,908 calorie coins in her bank account.
At the end of today, if she has spent 2,300 calorie coins on food and drink she she is overspent on her calorie coins and will gain weight (fat).
If Sandra spends 1,908 calorie coins on food and drink her balance at the end of the day will be zero, and she will neither gain nor lose weight.
If she only spends 1,308 calorie coins on food and drink, her body will need to get the remainder of that 1908 that is needs from it’s reserves, to function properly, and therefore she will lose weight (fat).
If she only spends this amount of calorie coins each day, on food and drink, she will lose 1 to 2lbs of fat at the end of the week
Try to imagine your calories as your bank account, and spend them wisely. Every time you make a choice, ask yourself ‘Am I spending my calories wisely? Or is there something cheaper in calories that I would enjoy just as much’
What about exercise?
What about the calories burned through exercise though? She can eat them too, that’s right isn’t it?
Some calorie tracking apps do give you additional calories when you add your exercise, but because at Be Strong we have already taken into consideration the amount of calories you will burn through exercise, we spread it out over the week for you. So you get to eat more every day, whether you have exercised that day or not, because we add up your BMR needs and your activity levels then average it out across the week. This allows us to keep things very simple for you because the simpler it is, then the greater chance that you will succeed.
This week, we want you to take the opportunity to understand your personalised calorie calculation, check that all your settings are correct (go to the ‘preferences’ tab in weight tracker and check height, weight, activity levels, date of birth), so that you get off to the right start.
Next week and we will spend some time looking at more weight loss and fitness basics, to make sure you have the right knowledge to get you through to the end of your journey and achieving your goals.