One of the oldest tried and true methods of weight loss is a low calorie diet. A diet low in calories, when combined with a regular exercise regime, can be very effective in helping you to lose weight. There are some basic guidelines you can follow, but the most basic is to read nutrition labels on the foods that you eat. Of course, fresh fruits and vegetables have very few calories, as do chicken breasts and lean meats. If you are counting calories, you should have an idea of how many calories you want to restrict yourself to daily. For health reasons, you should not allow your daily caloric intake to drop below 1200. This can be unhealthy.
What are Calories? Technically, a calorie is the amount of heat that is required at the pressure of one atmosphere to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. This is equal to about 4.19 joules. To us regular folk, a calorie is a unit of energy in the foods that we eat. A burger with 500 calories offers 500 units of energy. Of course, too many calories can result in an excess and then your body stores it as fat. Additionally, low calorie foods can still be high in fat which could defeat the purpose if your goal is to lose weight. So, simply put, calories are energy.
How Many Calories do You Need? Different people have different caloric requirements. There are many factors that determine this: activity level, gender and age are big ones. There is a way to determine how many calories you need. The formula is somewhat difficult but it is fairly accurate. You first need to determine your BMR, or basal metabolic rate. This is how much energy your body expends at rest. For men, add 1.0 kcal per kilogram of body weight per hour. Women use .9 kcal per kilogram of body weight per hour. Once you have determined your BMR, add 20% to 4 0% of your BMR if you are sedentary. 55% to 65% is added to your BMR for light activity, 70% to 75% is added to your BMR for moderate activity and 80% to 100% is added to your BMR for heavy activity. This figure will tell you how many calories you require per day. Multiply that figure by 7 for your weekly caloric intake requirement. From this amount you need to subtract 3,500 from your weekly caloric requirement for each pound of weight that you want to lose. (It is suggested that you lose no more than 2 pounds a week because more than that can be unhealthy and can cause you to look flabbier even if you lose the weight.) Divide this figure by 7 and that will tell you how many calories you need each day in order to lose the pounds you want to lose.
What are Some Low Calorie Foods? There are many low calorie foods on the market, but your best bet for the healthiest, lowest fat and lowest calorie choices are the fresh foods. Steer clear of canned and processed foods. They can contain hidden sugars and fats and can cause you to gain weight. Fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products (the "horseshoe" of the supermarket) are your best bet. Learn to read labels for other foods that you eat. You may find yourself choosing brown rice over white and whole wheat pasta over flour because of the health benefits and lower calories. A low calorie diet can be healthy and easy to follow - just keep it fresh.
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