A Magic Number for Weight Loss

Simply stated, if your goal is to lose weight, your body needs to be in a calorie deficit. That means you need to burn more calories than you consume. You can achieve this goal three different ways: You can eat a lot less, exercise a lot more, or you could eat a little less and exercise a little more. You choose, but remember to set a goal and come up with a plan to achieve that goal.

When deciding which of the three aforementioned means you choose, consider which you are more likely to maintain over a period of time. The choice with the greatest health benefit is to combine a moderate exercise routine with some minor tweaks to your current eating habits. How long you need to maintain the new regimen depends on how much weight you aim to lose. Most fitness professionals recommend that a modest goal of one to two pounds of weight loss per week is realistic and achievable by almost anyone.

So, how much exercise and diet tweaking is enough?  In order to keep things simple we are talking about calories in vs. calories out. I like to use 3500 as a magic number. “Why?” you might ask. Well, one pound of body fat happens to equal 3500 calories. By achieving a 3500 calorie deficit in a one week period you can lose one pound of body fat. That may sound like a lot of calories at first, but let’s break it down. You only need to average a 500-calorie deficit per day to lose a pound per week.

It is easy to combine a few diet substitutions with a bit of exercise to come up with a 500-calorie cut each day. Below is an example for one day:

-150 calories = One 12 oz. can of soda is approximately 150 calories. Substitute a can of regular soda with diet soda or, better yet, a glass of water.

-85 calories = Just one tablespoon mayonnaise adds up to 90 calories. Try honey mustard instead at only 10 calories per serving or regular mustard at only 5 calories a serving.

-195 calories = A small order of French fries at McDonalds is 230 calories. Replace that with Apple Dippers at only 35 calories. Skip the caramel dip, which triples the calorie count with nothing you need.

-181 calories = Go for a 20-minute jog at 5mph (based on 150-pound male).

The smarter nutrition choices made above in addition to the short jog adds up to over 600 calories. This is something almost anyone can do. Can’t jog for 20 minutes? You can also try the Calorie Goal program on many of the Vision Fitness cardio products. With this program you can set the number of calories you didn’t eliminate through nutritional choices to get to your 500 calorie daily goal. For instance if all you eliminated was the one can of soda (150 calories), you still need to burn 350 calories. This program will vary in time based on your workout intensity until you have burned your calorie goal.

You may ask, “How many calories should I be eating in the first place?” Check out this website for a weight maintenance calculator: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/calorie-calculator/NU00598

Furthermore, learn to read food labels so you can become more consistent with your daily calorie consumption and make better choices. I also like the book Eat This, Not That, which can be used as a guide to making better choices.

References:

http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy_living_tools_content.aspx?id=9#sthash.i07GgDQ8.dpbs

http://www.foodfacts.com/index.php

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