Saturday, September 16, 2006

Counting Calories & Weight Loss

Counting Calories & Weight Loss
By Ashwin Kumar

Nutritional Information LabelMany people fret upon the idea of having to count calories in their daily diet, with reasonable justification. The one problem is is that there is a lot of hype regarding the process of counting calories, and another problem is that most people don't even know how to put that caloric information to work. It's all a very simple concept, and a simple process once you understand the basics.

First of all, let us get the facts down about calories themselves and what they are. A calorie is essentially a unit of energy. When a calorie is used, it's burned as energy. Macronutrients are all made up of calories. There are three primary macronutrients, and we've all heard about them. Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat. One gram of protein and carbohydrates contain 4 calories, and one gram of fat contain 9 calories (thus you can see why fat is a major culprit.)

Now how do macronutrients and their calories all correlate to weight loss? It's a simple principle that professionals in the fitness industry refer to as "Calories in vs. Calories out".

The "Calories In" portion represents the amount of food you're consuming on a daily basis. Remember, all of the food you eat comes equipped with food labels, which all contain macronutrients, which contain calories. All of us generally follow a "diet plan" even if we don't follow one intentionally. We all have certain foods we eat at certain times, and we can average that information out. What you need to do is spend some time figuring out how many calories all of those foods amount to, in an average day. Once you have this number, you will know how many calories you're taking in per day.

The "Calories Out" portion represents the amount of calories your body burns on a daily basis. You burn calories through two ways. One way is through involuntary means, which is referred to as your Basal Metabolic Rate. The many functions your body performs like your beating heart, brain functions, lungs, digestive system, etc... all require energy (calories) to function and they burn a lot of calories throughout the day. The second way to burn calories is through physical activity (voluntary action). You can visit the weight loss programs website to take a free fitness profile which will help you determine how many calories your burning on a daily basis.

Now here is where we bring it together. If the amount of calories your burning is fewer than the amount of calories you're taking in per day, you will gain weight. If they're equal to each other, you won't lose or gain weight. And if you're burning more calories than what you're taking in, you will obviously begin to lose weight. From there, it's only a matter of determining an approach in which you can control your diet by cutting back calories, and reinforcing your weight loss efforts by burning more calories through exercise.

About the Author
Ashwin Kumar writes about counting calories and weight loss for
Fit Practical.

Picture: Basmati rice nutritional information label (United Kingdom)

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