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Understanding the Relationship Between Weight Loss and Calories

Reviewed by
Date published
29/11/2020
Date last updated
25/11/2020
Length of read
5 Minutes

For years, fitness experts and nutritionists have been stressing that weight loss is made in the kitchen, as well as the gym. This guide will provide you with a complete understanding of the relationship between weight loss and calories, including how going on a calorie deficit will help you lose weight over time.

What are calories?

A calorie is a unit of energy. It refers to the amount of energy you get from the food you eat and the beverages that you drink. The number of calories you burn each day will depend on several factors:

Your basal metabolic rate - also known as resting energy expenditure, your basal metabolic rate refers to the number of calories your body needs to maintain its functions like breathing and blood circulation. In short, it’s the amount of energy your body burns to keep you alive.

Activity energy expenditure – this refers to the calories you burn when doing physical activities like exercise, moving around, etc.

Thermic effect of food – this refers to the amount of energy expended by digesting and absorbing food.

What causes weight gain?

There are many causes of weight gain, including:

  • Genetic factors
  • Certain medications
  • Overindulgence
  • Sugary or fatty diet
  • Misinformation

The weight loss formula

Your calorie needs will vary from person to person. If you consume fewer calories than what you need for your basal metabolic rate, activity energy expenditure, and thermal effect of food, then you enter a state called a calorie deficit.

Over time, a calorie deficit will lead to weight loss.

Common knowledge shows that a pound of fat (0.45 kg) is more or less equal to 3,500 calories. Cutting your intake by 500 to 1000 calories a day will help you lose approximately 1 to 2 pounds (0.45 to 0.9 kg) a week.

Metabolism, body composition, and activity levels vary from one person to another. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, you are likely to lose less weight than those who are physically active. No matter how small, you will still lose weight as long as you put your body in a calorie deficit.

Eating too many calories makes you gain weight

If you consume more calories than what your basal metabolic rate, activity energy expenditure, and thermic effect of food require, you are most likely to gain weight. Remember that the body stores excess calories as fat.

Losing weight: how to do it right

There are several ways to lose weight safely. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Water loss is just temporary

Remember that when you lose weight, you are not only losing fat. You are also losing muscle and water. So it’s important to not focus on drastically cutting your calorie intake. Instead, eat well-balanced meals. Your type of diet has a direct impact on the speed and composition of your weight loss. For example, people who focus on low-carb diets experience rapid weight loss during the first few weeks of their regimen. While this is good, most of the weight loss is temporary because it is only water loss.

Gradually lower your calories

Drastic reduction of your calorie intake puts the body in a defensive state. This natural reaction causes the body to conserve energy by lowering your metabolism. This in turn makes weight loss harder and slower. The best way to reduce weight without triggering this protective response is by gradually reducing your calorie intake. Spread your calories over a few meals.

Don’t drink your calories

There’s a reason why several soda lovers are obese. Sugar in soda has lots of calories. If you are not careful, it’s so easy to go over your daily calorie needs with just a few cans of soda. Alcoholic beverages also contain lots of calories. If you are serious about losing weight, cut your sugary drinks, and replace it with healthier alternatives like tea or water.

Eat whole foods

Vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and fish are great sources of vitamins and minerals without being too heavy on calories. As much as possible, eat whole foods at home and stay away from highly processed foods. Fast foods, cereals, and processed meat products are highly palatable --- making you more prone to overeating.

Add some light exercise to your routine

While it’s true that most weight loss happens in the kitchen, we still can’t overemphasize enough the importance of exercise. Experts recommend that adults should spend between 150 to 300 minutes of moderate exercise each week. This includes brisk walking. If you are physically active, 150 minutes of vigorous exercises like jogging are recommended each week. Exercise helps to prevent muscle loss and encourages your body to focus on breaking down fats.

Too much weight will have a negative impact on your health and self-esteem. Click here if you want to learn more about how weight gain affects your health.