If you're wondering how many calories you should eat to lose weight, you're not alone. There are a lot of myths out there, and even some of the legitimate information can be confusing. For instance, it can be hard to calculate your activity level if you don't have anything to base your estimate on. Fortunately, weight loss through calorie counting is possible, and you can figure it out. Here's how to reduce your calorie intake and lose weight safely.
1. Understand how your body loses and gains weight. Many people don't understand that things come down to math in the end. Eat fewer calories than you burn, and you'll lose weight. Eat more calories than you burn, and you'll put it on. Of course, how much exercise you're getting and what you're eating will influence whether you lose fat or muscle, and whether you stay healthy while you're losing weight. While one could theoretically lose weight on an all-Twinkie diet, it wouldn't be a healthy choice or a pleasant process.
2. Keep records. Weigh yourself on a regular basis, whether that's once a day or once a week, and always at the same time. Then, write that number down, and pay attention to general trends. Depending on what we've eaten or drunk, what time of day it is, and what we're wearing, our bodies can differ in weight significantly. That's why you should pay attention to the fit of your clothes as well as the scale, and why you should record your weight. It's easy to get upset about a gain of a few pounds, but if that gain is temporary, and part of a general trend of loss, you shouldn't worry. If you record your weight, you'll be able to see whether your current calorie intake is causing you to gain, lose, or stay right where you are.
3. Keep track of what you eat. That doesn't mean you have to obsessively count every calorie, although this method works for some people. It just means that you should think about everything you consume, rather than snacking without paying attention. Take at least one day to calorie count, so you'll be able to work out roughly what you're eating, then pay attention to your weight records over a period of time to see how many calories you need to lose weight. Online calorie calculators can help you, but they're just a rough estimate. Every body is different, and will burn a different number of calories to maintain a particular weight. Trial, error, and observation is the best way to figure out what you need.
4. Don't overdo it! Once we figure out that simple math works to help us lose weight, it can be tempting to reduce calorie intake significantly, to take the pounds of faster. This is a bad idea. Too-rapid weight loss stresses our systems, can cause loss of lean muscle mass instead of fat, and may even slow down your metabolism. Instead of a fast starvation diet, reduce slowly - a rate of about a pound a week is usually considered safe. While it might take a little longer to reach your goal weight, you'll experience fewer physical problems, less loose skin, and a healthier body. When you decide how many calories to lose weight, aim for a slow but steady loss.
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