Thursday, October 23, 2008

Calories and Fat Reduction

One pound of body fat is equivalent to approximately 3500 calories. So in order to lose a pound of fat, we need to create a calorie-deficit of 3500 calories over a period of a few days to a week.
We can do this by increasing our calorie expenditure, by reducing our calorie intake, or (best) by a combination of both.

Here are some examples:
  • Suppose you need 2000 calories a day, in order to maintain your present weight.
  • To lose one pound a week, you need to take in 1500 calories, or create a 500 calorie deficit.
  • Over 7 days, this adds up to 3500 calories.
  • The same result can be achieved by increasing your exercise by 400 calories/day, and reducing your calorie-intake by 100 calories/day.
  • That said, a combination of calorie-reduction and increased exercise makes weight loss easier to sustain and far more healthy.

The Cincinnati Fitness Guide To Calorie Content Of Food

There are roughly 4 calories in each gram of carbohydrate or protein, but 9 calories per gram of dietary fat. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram. So an obvious way of reducing your calorie intake is to reduce your consumption of foods which are high in fat, and drinks which are high in sugar (alcohol = sugar).

However, proper nutrition and healthy eating is a critically important factor in effective body fat loss. A nutritious eating plan boosts body fat reduction in various ways. First, our metabolism (the way we burn food) needs several minerals and vitamins to maintain its efficiency. Without these nutrients, our metabolism won't burn food efficiently and may slow down, causing a reduction in our rate of fat loss. Second, without adequate nutrition our digestive system may not be able to digest and process our food properly. As well as micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber is also very beneficial for our gastrointestinal tract, and helps to avoid constipation and other indigestion-type complaints such as diverticulosis and IBS.

The worst type of foods from both a calorie and nutritional viewpoint are "empty calorie" foods. These are foods and drinks which contain very small amounts of nutrition but large amounts of calories, using up our calorie allowance without providing useful nutrients and energy. For anyone who is striving to reduce body fat, these empty calorie foods should be avoided. Examples of empty calorie food items include: sugary drinks, bleached, enriched, processed foods, and any foods with excess sugar content, including alcohol.

In addition, certain foods may be "calorie-dense". These foods are particularly high in fat-calories (eg. butter, mayonnaise, sausages, high-fat cheese), or they may contain an excessive amount of both fat and sugar (eg. many types of commercial popcorn, white flour muffins or other rich bread-snacks, candy). Obviously, these processed calorie-dense foods are not a good choice for someone who wants to lose excess stored body fat.

The best type of calorie-controlled eating plan contains foods from all food-groups (including essential fats), and aims to help you lose about two pounds of body fat per week max. It should be rich in high-fiber, whole grains, and should include lean protein and a moderate amount of good quality vegetable oils. For most women, a realistic energy intake is 1200-1600 calories per day, depending on age and energy expenditure.

The best program I’ve found to help track both the quantity and quality of calories (micronutrients and macronutrients), and your body's own energy expenditure, is the Body Bugg program. You can watch a demo here.

Regardless of the method, people who keep track of what they are eating are far more successful in their body fat reduction efforts.

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins - HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. Cincinnati, Ohio 513-407-4665

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