Too often, we’re bombarded with bogus health advice, deceptive marketing, and cynical celebrities trying to cash in on the diet craze. But enough about that, let’s talk nutrition.
It’s true that consuming fewer calories than you expend is the simplest and most effective way to lose weight. However, this doesn’t mean that every meal needs to be low-calorie. In fact, it can be pretty challenging to determine how many calories you should eat based on your individual needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to weight loss. Fortunately, with a little bit of research, knowledge, and experimentation, you can figure out the right calorie intake for you.
Counting Calories Is Overrated
When you’re pursuing weight loss, the first thing you might consider is counting calories. After all, calories count, right? Well, yes and no. Yes, calories matter and they play an important role in your weight loss. No, counting calories is not the best way to lose weight.
Why? Well, for starters, counting calories is notoriously unreliable. For example, take a look at these 2 calorie calculators, one from NASA and the other from McDonald’s. They both claim to be the most trusted sources for calorie information, but do you really believe that they provide the same accurate number?
Let’s assume that you choose the McDonald’s calorie counter. This will probably be the one that’s most frequently used by individuals trying to lose weight. When you enter your weight and the number of miles you walked that day, the calculation engine spits out a number that may vary quite a bit from the actual calorie content of a Big Mac. In some cases, you could be eating a lot more calories than you think.
On the other hand, the calorie intake from a NASA-approved diet plan often provides more accurate results. Of course, you have to enter your weight once again, but this time you’ll have to key in your height and the result will be much more reliable. So while you might benefit from knowing how many calories you’re consuming, trying to keep track of all these numbers can be a chore and it’s not always as accurate as you’d like.
Use Your Gut Feelings
Your gut feelings are a great indicator of how much you need. If you feel hungry more often than usual or that your clothes aren’t fitting you perfectly, chances are you’re consuming more calories than you need. On the other hand, if you’re feeling quite content and have no desire to eat more than usual, you’re in the right calorie range.
This is where experimentation comes in. If you identify a pattern in your hunger levels or if you notice that certain food items make you feel fuller or more energetic than usual, you can work out how many calories you need simply by comparing the results with your usual bodily function. For example, if you’ve found that salads make you feel satisfied, you can eat more salads and lose some weight. If you feel bloated, you may be consuming more calories than you need and should eat fewer sugars and grains to reduce the size of your stomach.
By taking this step-by-step approach, you can easily determine how many calories you need to lose weight without risking your health. And when you do have a health concern, you can still eat what you want without worrying about whether or not it’s going to exacerbate the issue. For some people, this is exactly what they need to do to lose weight. However, for others, it might not be the best course of action.
Know Your Metabolic Rate (M.R.)
Your metabolic rate (M.R.) is simply the speed at which your body burns calories. It’s highly individual and varies from person to person. In fact, some people have argued that figuring out your exact M.R. is one of the most important steps in losing weight. In case you were wondering, the M.R. of an average person is between 400-500 calories per day. Anything below this level is considered a slow burn while anything above it is considered a fast burn.
This is yet another factor that makes determining your caloric needs difficult. If you want to lose weight, it’s important to find out how to increase your BMR. There are several ways to do this. For example, you could start by avoiding foods with added sugar. Some other tips include getting more sleep, increasing muscle mass via weight training, and cutting out foods with high glycemic index (GI). GI describes how quickly a product or food raises your blood sugar level.
Vary Your Diet
While it’s important to lose weight, it’s also important to maintain a healthy diet. One option is to vary your diet. This means that you eat different foods at different times. For example, you could have a salad at one meal and steak at another. If you keep this up, you’ll never get bored of eating and your body will thank you for the healthy nutrients.
Many people believe that eating more veggies lowers your cholesterol and prevents heart disease. While this may be true, it doesn’t mean that you have to eliminate all food items with leafy greens. You could incorporate more veggies in your diet by having a salad at one meal and a spinach pizza at another. Your body won’t mind, and your health will thank you for the more colorful foods.
Watch Out For Additives And Preservatives
Let’s say that you’re determined to follow the Atkins diet. Great! You’re on your way to losing weight, but you also want to make sure that you’re not going to damage your health in the process. One tip is to avoid all foods with additives and preservatives. These are usually hidden in food items that don’t have any artificial sweeteners or preservatives listed on the food label. For example, you could eat egg rolls, potato chips, or cookies, but you have to be really careful about what other ingredients they’re coated in. The same goes for microwaveable foods, many of which contain preservatives.
These items are usually loaded with sugars and you’ll easily be able to determine this by looking at the label. If you see a lot of sugar, you’re definitely better off avoiding it. Similarly, preservatives are usually worse for your health than simple sugars, so it’s usually best to avoid them as well.
Skipping out on these items will help you maintain healthy liver function while losing weight. Your liver plays a crucial role in detoxifying your body and breaking down harmful substances. If it starts to malfunction, you’ll experience symptoms like diarrhea, stomach pain, or fatigue. This is why it’s so important to make sure that your diet is as healthy as it can be.
Choose An Existing Plan
Once you’ve determined that counting calories isn’t for you and your BMR is in the healthy range, you can start creating a dietary plan. There are several diets that you could choose from. One of the best things about this approach is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can use countless existing plans to get started and modify them to meet your needs. Here are just a few examples of popular diets: