Calories In/Calories Out
That's the basis of weight gain, loss, or maintenance. Before one gets into the minutia of which diets are the best, one needs to focus on how many calories are being consumed and how many are being burned. A few months back I purchased a Fitbit (you can learn more about this device here). This itty bitty amazing piece of electronics measures my daily activity - steps, miles, and calories burned. In addition, the online program allows users to enter the foods eaten to see how many calories are consumed.
I'm a woman of average height and in the normal weight range. According to my Fitbit, I burn an average of 1700 calories a day. This calorie burn includes my approximately three times a week yoga practice and almost daily walks on my farm. What this boils down to is if I want to maintain my weight, I cannot eat more than 1700 calories a day unless I increase my activity. Also, if I want to lose weight, my calorie intake needs to drop below 1700 calories.
If you read last week's Wellness Wednesday post, you learned about the calorie content of many popular meals at chain restaurants. Many of these dishes were close to or over my daily calorie requirement to maintain my weight - and this was just one dish. Do you see where I'm going with this?
I hear lots of people debate the merits of various diets - low fat, low carb, high carb, etc. Although there is some truth to the effectiveness of some of these diets depending on your personal body chemistry, the fact is that one still needs to consume fewer calories than they burn in order to lose weight.
I recommend looking at your food intake. Maintain a log of meals and calories eaten over a two week period of time. There are a number of online programs that can assist you with this, including Spark People. They can be found using a good search engine. Once you see how many calories you are consuming on a daily basis, think about your lifestyle. Is it, like most people in the Western world, a very sedentary life? Do you spend most of your time in a car, at a desk and/or on the couch? If so, this means you're probably not burning enough calories for weight loss. To get an estimate about how many calories you typically burn in a day, go to this online calorie burn calculator. You will probably be surprised how few calories you burn.
Once you know your daily intake and output, you can begin to adjust your diet and activity in order to work towards reaching your goals.