Is it really necessary to count calories to lose weight?
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.