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Calorie Controlled Diets

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 19 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Calorie Calorie-controlled Diet Burn Fat

The most rudimentary rule of losing weight is to eat less (and exercise more, but that's another story). That doesn't mean starving yourself so you eat virtually nothing, it means cutting down the number of calories you consume every day. In a nutshell, it means following a calorie-controlled diet.

What is a Calorie?

Most dieters comprehend that a chocolate bar has more calories than a stick of celery or a radish. But few people actually know what a calorie is, although the word is bandied about incredibly often by the vast majority of dieters.

A calorie is a unit of energy or heat that food produces as your body utilises it as fuel. Put in simple layman's terms, a calorie is a measurement that tells us how quickly the body burns up food we consume, or gets rid of it before it turns into fat.

Burning Calories to Lose Weight

If you are planning to lose weight on a calorie-controlled diet, the first step is to determine how many calories your body uses up in a day – or how much you eat to maintain your current weight, and thus how much you will need to eat to shed the pounds.

Of course, that will depend on your age, body type and activity level, so everyone's calorie count will differ. But as a rule, the starting point for women is 2,000 calories per day, while the starting point for men is 2,500. If you exercise a lot already or have a very busy lifestyle, that number is probably higher.

Once you know your normal calorie intake, you can estimate how many calories less you will need to consume every day to lose weight. For most people, reducing your caloric intake by roughly 500 calories daily will help you lose a pound a week, which is considered a safe and effective weight loss programme.

If you want to continue eating as much as you currently do, you can eat just 200-300 calories less per day - and exercise more to burn up calories that way.

Calorie-Counting for Accuracy

Deciding to eat less is great, as is taking the first step to learn your caloric intake. But many people underestimate how many calories they consume in a typical day. The best way to find out for yourself is to keep a seven-day diary of your eating habits.

Write down everything you eat per day, then add up the number of calories in each serving. You can do this by purchasing a calorie-counting book from your local bookshop, or accessing an online calorie counter.

Remember, if you cheat you will only be doing yourself a disservice. It's important to write down every snack, and not to underestimate portion sizes. If you have an ENORMOUS bowl of porridge for breakfast, that could count as two servings. And don't forget to write down the three teaspoons of sugar and full-fat milk!

Following a Calorie-Controlled Diet

Now you know how much you eat per day, how many calories you need to cut back on, and – hopefully – what your target weight is, based on your own BMI, or body mass index, and how you feel about yourself. Now here's the tricky part: the actual diet!

Remember, foods high in fat and sugar have the most calories. To stay full, eat healthy foods that are filling and tasty, and don't allow yourself to get too hungry if you don't want to stray. Also, drink plenty of water and please note: it is always best to start any diet under the guidance of your GP, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.

Advantages:

  • You can eat whatever you want – as long as you stay within your calorie range.
  • No food is forbidden, as long as you eat in moderation.
  • As this is not a fad diet, it will be easier to keep the weight off long-term.
  • Calorie-counting can fit into busy lifestyles, and you can work it around parties, festive occasions and other times when most of us tend to overeat.

Disadvantages:

  • Calorie-counting can be boring, and keeping a food diary tedious.
  • No diet is ever fun!
  • If you eat up all your calorie allowance too quickly, you can feel hunger pains.
  • It can require a bit of experimentation to get it right.

Following a calorie-controlled diet is a weight loss plan that works, with great health benefits. As opposed to crash diets, it is simply a form of healthy eating that, hopefully, cuts down on fats and sugars and encourages dieters to eat more healthy and nutritious foods to stay satisfied. With a good exercise programme, it can be a long-term diet solution that could keep you slim for life. Good luck!

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