Is it re­ally nec­es­sary to count calo­ries to lose weight?

The Hamilton Spectator - - HEALTH - MARJIE GIL­LIAM

Q: I know that mov­ing more and eat­ing less will help me lose weight, but is it nec­es­sary to count calo­ries, too?

A: I would con­sider it if you have no idea how many calo­ries you cur­rently con­sume or how many you burn with ac­tiv­ity. Oth­er­wise, it is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine how much weight you might lose over time when mak­ing changes. Most peo­ple un­der­es­ti­mate calo­ries con­sumed while over­es­ti­mat­ing those burned with ex­er­cise. This leads to frus­tra­tion when the scale doesn’t budge, and can in turn lead to a re­turn to old habits.

Diet and ac­tiv­ity lev­els vary from day to day, so it is also help­ful, at least ini­tially, to stick to a con­sis­tent food and ex­er­cise plan so that you can more ac­cu­rately cal­cu­late your in­take and out­put. If weight loss stalls, you will know it is time to ad­just again.

Food choices should be healthy so that you ben­e­fit nu­tri­tion­ally while you are los­ing weight. Typ­i­cally, high­est in calo­ries and low­est in nu­tri­ents are man­u­fac­tured (pro­cessed) foods, al­co­hol, and foods with added sug­ars or fats. Some ex­am­ples of foods that can help with weight man­age­ment and good health are veg­eta­bles, fruits, lean meats, lentils, legumes, whole grains, fish and egg whites.

Calo­ries burned with ex­er­cise de­pend on many things, in­clud­ing:

1) In­ten­sity (light, moder­ate, or max­i­mum ef­fort), fre­quency and du­ra­tion.

2) Body weight and com­po­si­tion (the heav­ier and/or the more mus­cle a per­son has, the more calo­ries are burned). 3) Type of ac­tiv­ity. 4) Cur­rent fit­ness level.

Weight loss tips

Keep a food log so that you can de­ter­mine which ones con­trib­ute most to your calo­rie in­take.

Con­sider wear­ing a pe­dome­ter to track how many steps you take through­out the day.

Don’t set un­re­al­is­tic goals or com­pare your­self to oth­ers. In­stead, day by day, just stick to your plan of eat­ing health­ier and exercising. Fo­cus on your suc­cesses. If setbacks oc­cur, learn from them.

Be­ing at an “ideal” weight doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily equate to good health. Some­one con­sid­ered over­weight who has a health­ful diet and ex­er­cises reg­u­larly can be health­ier than an av­er­age/un­der­weight per­son with poor habits.

Lo­ca­tion of body fat is im­por­tant, so it is a good idea to take a waist­line mea­sure­ment once a month. Ex­cess ab­dom­i­nal fat ups your risk of de­vel­op­ing Type 2 di­a­betes, high blood pres­sure, and coro­nary artery disease. Risk is higher for men whose waist cir­cum­fer­ence is greater than 40 inches and, for non­preg­nant woman, more than 35 inches. Mea­sure just above the hip bones, keep tape hor­i­zon­tal all the way around, do not pull tape tight, and mea­sure just af­ter ex­hal­ing.

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