Maintain Your Weight by Staying Calorie Conscious
Do you suffer from calorie confusion? Do you try to watch your calorie intake, but still see the scale moving in the wrong direction? It’s no mystery that paying attention to every little thing you put in your mouth is difficult, but if you really wish to lose and maintain your weight, it has to be done.
What is a calorie?
In order to be calorie conscious, you must first understand calories. A calorie is a unit of measurement for energy; in this case, we mean food energy. Calories can be broken down into three categories:
- Small calories
- Large calories
- Empty calories
Can you guess the main type many people consume? Yep, it’s those empty calories that really hurt, especially if you’re trying to watch your weight. These empty calories are found in those foods that lack proper nutrition and make it difficult to be calorie conscious. These calories give you the same energy as the other two types, but they lack micronutrients such as minerals, vitamins, amino acids and fiber.
How many calories do you need?
Calorie intake varies for different individuals, depending on their current age, gender, weight and level of physical activity. It’s always best to remember that in order to lose or maintain your weight, you need to balance your calories. If you put more calories in, than your body can put out, you begin to gain weight. While some people have a naturally high metabolism, it’s really not the case for the majority of the population.
A basic guideline for calorie intake is as follows:
- Teenagers = 1,200 to 1,800 per day
- Men (physically inactive) = 1,200 to 1,500 per day
- Men (physically active) = 1,500 to 1,800 per day
- Women (physically inactive) = 1,000 to 1,200 per day
- Women (physically active) = 1,200 to 1,500 per day
If you eat much more than your suggested amount of calories, you won’t be able to maintain your weight. To be specific, it’s time to become calorie conscious. Start by cutting out empty calories first. After that, start monitoring the other calories that actually contain nutrients. Even if you can’t quite cut down to your suggested calorie amount, try to at least substitute empty calories with nutrient-filled calories until you create a healthy new balance for your body.
Exercise for Burning Calories
In a nutshell, 1 pound of body fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories. Yikes! That means that we need to walk for at least 12.5 hours to shed one pound. This alone should show you just how important physical activity is to maintain your weight.
Other tips for becoming calorie conscious:
- Switch to low-fat dairy products
- Avoid frying food (try baking or grilling instead)
- Cook with canola or extra-virgin olive oil
- Stock up on skinless poultry and lean meats
- Eat more fish
- Snack on fruit and veggies instead of sweets
- Read labels carefully and stick to the serving size
Once you become more calorie conscious, you can be well on your way to a healthy new you. It’s all about control and balance. The more aware you are, the slimmer you will become. Remember, losing weight is not about starving yourself--it’s about taking care of your body with proper exercise and nutrition.