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Calories & Weight Loss
Calories are at the heart of any equation for weight loss. Before beginning a weight loss regimen, you first need to figure out roughly how many calories your body normally burns per day. Use that number as a baseline for subtracting calories from your diet. Particularly when combined with regular exercise, reducing your daily calorie intake will reduce your weight.
Basic calorie needs vary by age, gender and activity level
According to the American Heart Association, a moderately active woman aged 31 to 50 uses about 2,000 calories per day, while a moderately active man of the same age uses about 2,500. Sedentary people need fewer calories — about 1,800 for a woman 31 to 50 and 2,200 for a man aged 31 to 50. Adults over age 50 require about 200 fewer calories per day, while those 30 and under need about 200 more. A weight loss calorie counter (easily found online) can help you pinpoint your personal base level of calories. Use this number as a starting point when calculating your daily calorie intake for weight loss.
3,500 calories equals one pound of fat
Technically, a calorie is defined as the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of one liter of water by one degree. According to the National Institute of Health, it takes 3,500 calories to burn one pound of fat.
Reduce your daily calories for weight loss
If you want to lose a pound of fat per week, you would need to subtract 500 calories from your diet every day (since 7 x 500 = 3,500). So, if you're a 35-year-old woman who is moderately active, for example, you would want to consume about 1,300 calories per day. Take care not to reduce your calorie intake too drastically. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, as a general rule, you should not let your daily calorie intake drop below 1,200 (for women) or 1,800 (for men).
Calories are calories
A 2009 study by the Harvard School of Public Health compared overweight participants in four different diets over a period of two years. While many diet gurus advocate cutting certain types of calories over others (for example, specifically cutting carbs, fats or proteins), the Harvard study found similar weight loss results no matter what types of calories the participants cut. This suggests that when it comes to weight loss, while you want to make sure you are getting good nutrition, you should focus on number of calories rather than type.
Burn extra calories through exercise
You don't need to cut calories for weight loss only through food. Incorporate around 30 minutes of exercise into your schedule daily, and you should increase your rate of weight loss. If you can't get to the gym, try purchasing a pedometer with a weight loss calorie counter so you know how many calories you're burning as you engage in daily activities like climbing stairs, walking around your neighborhood and running errands.