Counting Calories: Calorie Intake to Lose Weight


When it comes to weight management, winning the calorie battle can help. Calories count, and this whole concept is based on the scientific law of thermodynamics, so if one wishes to lose weight, one must burn more calories than one consumes. In other words, create a calorie deficit, and you’d lose weight over time, but consume a calorie surplus, and you would put on weight.

As simple as it sounds, though, figuring out exactly how many calories one should consume to maintain a healthy weight can be tricky. In this post, we will talk about calorie intake to lose weight and share some tips to reduce your calorie intake sustainably.

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A Quick Refresher on What Calories Are

Calories are the energy from the food and beverage we consume. They serve as fuel for our bodies. Your body uses the calories from food to keep working. Energy from calories fuels your every action, and stored calories stay in your body as fat unless they are converted to physical energy.

You gain weight if you eat more calories than you burn. On the other hand, you lose weight if you eat fewer calories and burn more calories through physical activity. This is why you need to add more physical activity to burn more calories and avoid gaining weight because of accumulated fats stored in your body.

What is a Calorie Deficit?

We often hear about how a calorie deficit plays a vital role in healthy weight management. A calorie deficit happens when an individual consumes less calories than their total daily energy expenditure. However, spending a long period in a calorie deficit state leads to a situation where the body becomes used to the lower energy intake and adapts to lower calorie intake, which may cause weight loss to slow down or plateau.

Generally, cutting down about 500 calories daily from your regular diet allows you to lose about ½ to 1 pound a week. Still, this may not be true for everyone because of various factors, such as your current weight, height, age, gender, activity level, and weight loss goals.

Benefits of Calculating Your Daily Calorie Intake

Tracking your calorie intake can be a helpful tool during your weight-loss journey. For one, the act of monitoring your daily calories can help you become more aware of your food consumption patterns and behaviors. Tracking calories can also serve as your accountability tool. Often, awareness of the calories you take daily is the first step toward a behavioral change in your calorie consumption, which can help you shed unwanted pounds.

That said, just as no weight loss methods work for everyone, counting calories may not be suitable for all individuals and can add stress and contribute to the chances of developing eating disorders. Please speak to a health professional when calorie counting to lose weight, as it can be hard to keep, may undermine the nourishment your mind and body need, and often serves as a temporary solution.

Cutting Calorie Intake to Lose Weight

To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than your body burns to create a calorie deficit. Below are some tips to help you reduce your calorie intake and support weight loss:

Track your food intake

Keep a food journal or use a mobile app to track what you eat and drink daily. This can help you become more aware of your eating habits, identify areas where you can make healthier choices, and determine how to adjust your calorie intake based on your goals.

Practice portion control

Be mindful of portion sizes to achieve your healthy eating goals. Practicing portion control is a good way to ensure you get enough calories and are not overeating while helping you reach your health and fitness goals. Pay attention to recommended serving sizes and consider using smaller plates and bowls to visually trick yourself into thinking you are eating more. Ideally, a portion-controlled plate will include good quality protein, complex carbohydrates with a small serving of healthy fats, and generous servings of fruits and vegetables.

Cut back on added sugars and sugary beverages

Reducing sugary drinks, such as soda, fruit juices, energy drinks, and sweetened coffee or tea, helps you maintain a healthy weight and can also prevent diabetes. Sugary beverages can contribute a significant amount of empty calories. Don’t go cold turkey, however. Slowly reducing your intake of sugary drinks can lead to sustainable habits and is the ideal way instead of ditching those drinks all at once. Water is the best source of hydration, but if you are not a fan of H2O, you can make your own infused water consisting of sliced lemons, cucumbers, mint leaves, or other combinations for added flavor.

Limit processed foods and be mindful of cooking methods

Reduce your consumption of processed foods containing lots of salt, fat, and sugar and have a lot more calories than you would think. These foods are not only highly processed such that they are stripped of their basic nutrients, but they also make it harder for you to stay at a healthy weight, and worst, can put you at higher cancer risk. In the same way, opt for healthier cooking methods like grilling, baking, steaming, or sautéing instead of frying or deep-frying, which adds unnecessary calories from added oils or breading. Think about what you eat and drink daily and find items and processed foods you could cut out, or consider swapping with a low-calorie, healthier choice.

Stay hydrated

It may sound surprising, but many of us often mistake thirst for hunger. Drink adequate water throughout the day to stay hydrated and reduce hunger cravings that can lead to unnecessary calorie consumption. Studies also show that drinking water helps increase the calories you burn.

Plan and prepare meals

One of the smartest ways to cut back calorie intake is to actually plan your meals in advance and prepare them at home yourself. Meal planning helps you to avoid impulsive food choices. Meanwhile, preparing meals at home using fresh ingredients gives you more control over portion sizes and ingredients used.

Key Takeaways – Cutting Calorie Intake to Lose Weight

Cutting portion sizes, skipping high-calorie processed foods, and swapping high-calorie foods for lower-calorie choices are some of the best ways to reduce calorie intake. That said, the number of calories you should eat or drink daily depends on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity. In addition, while cutting calories can significantly impact your weight loss journey, you should remember that losing weight is not solely about calorie reduction. It is essential to approach cutting calories in a balanced and sustainable manner.

For a successful — and sustainable — weight management plan, you need to combine increased physical activity and healthy eating rather than relying on short-term restrictive diets.


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