How Do Calories Affect Weight Loss?
Are you looking to lose weight and feel your best this summer?
A key component to doing so is understanding calories.
A calorie is a unit of energy found in food and most drinks. The more energy stored in that food, the more calories it will contain.
Calories give us the energy our bodies need to stay alive and thrive. Calories help our bodies function at the most foundational level by giving us the energy we need to do things like digest our food, breathe, and pump blood through our veins. Calories also fuel us throughout our day and workouts.
Eating the wrong amount of calories can cause your weight to stay stagnant, or even increase.
Yes, your fat-loss success starts with the foods and the amount of those foods that you eat on a consistent basis.
Let's start with why.
The first concept that is crucial to understand for weight-loss is energy balance.
This looks at the balance of the amount of calories you consume each day through food and beverages and how many calories you burn each day through normal body functions and physical activity.
Take a look at the three types of energy balance below:
1. Positive Energy Balance:
A positive energy balance is when calories eaten are GREATER THAN calories burned.
A consistent positive energy balance leads to weight gain.
2. Neutral Energy Balance
A neutral energy balance is when calories eaten are EQUAL TO calories burned.
A consistent neutral energy balance leads to weight maintenance.
3. Negative Energy Balance
A negative energy balance is when calories eaten are LESS THAN calories burned.
A consistent negative energy balance leads to weight loss.
In order for us to lose weight, we need to put ourselves in a negative energy balance. This is also known as a calorie deficit.
One thing I want to note is how we made a point to say "consistent" negative energy balance. In order to lose weight, we need to be consistently eating less calories than we burn. This means we need to be consistent throughout the seven days of the week. A common mistake we see is people who are super consistent Monday through Friday, and then the weekend comes around. Over the weekend they may indulge in more calorie dense foods, or eat an excessive amount. This then throws off their average and can end up erasing the calorie deficit they worked so hard to create during the week.
How do we burn calories?
We actually burn the most calories during the day with our body's daily functions. This includes things that we have no control over like digesting food, pumping your heart and breathing.
We can also burn more calories through physical activities like our workouts.
How do we know we're in a negative energy balance?
Track Your Food Intake
Did you know the average American underestimates the amount of calories they eat by up to 1,000 calories? So when you try to guess how much you're eating each day, you're likely eating much more than you think.
So how do you know how much to eat each day to lose weight?
That's where food tracking comes in.
One study split over 1,600 participants into 2 groups.
Researchers put each group on the same calorie deficit diet.
Group 1 just focused on the diet.
Group 2 focused on the diet but also tracked all of their meals.
At the end of the study each group lose weight. In fact, over the course of the study participants lost an average of 13lbs.
Here's the kicker though: the participants who tracked what they ate lost an average of 18lbs where participants who did not track what they ate lost an average of 9lbs.
Yes, the food tracking group lost twice as much weight on the same diet!
That's a BIG difference in weight-loss achieved just by simply tracking their food.
So what does tracking your food entail?
There are a few ways to track like keeping a good old-fashioned food journal where you simply write down the foods and beverages you consume and their amounts.
We recommend utilizing an easy to use app like My Fitness Pal though which will also easily break down how much of each food you're eating (carbs, fats, proteins, sugar, fiber, etc) and your total calories for you.
The guess work around eating for weight loss is GONE!