Counting Calories for Effective Weight Loss

We all want to believe that there is such thing as a miracle diet: a pill, a shake, a magic wand that will immediately remove those extra pounds. The reality, however, is that no such diet exists. Weight loss is a typically slow and incremental process that requires will power, knowledge and an inherent desire to lose the weight.

We’ve all seen advertisements in magazines and on TV that claim to have the formula for “weight loss in a pill”. For the most part, these products produce short term results that will be reversed as soon as you stop their regimen of pills and shakes. Real weight loss – healthy weight loss – is achieved by counting calories and getting plenty of exercise.

Counting calories can be tedious and annoying, but it is by far the most effective method for weight loss. Your body needs a certain amount of calorie consumption each day in order to survive, and any extra calories should be shed in your daily activities. In order to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume, meaning you’ll have to cut calories or step up your exercise program to induce weight loss.

Although extraneous factors such as metabolism do balance out the picture, it is important to focus on the simplest of the formula, which is burning more calories than you consume.

The first step is to begin counting the calories you consume on a daily basis. While this is the scariest aspect of the picture – we’re all busy, so when do we find the time to count calories? – once you’ve established a routine, it will become second nature. Keep a journal or log that details what you eat, and use the Internet to come up with the calorie content, including macronutrients (fat, protein, carbs, etc.).

Next, examine your daily diet and remove all the foods that are likely to promote weight gain. Junk food, fast food, complex carbohydrates and sweets should be replaced by lean meats, whole grains and fresh fruit. Foods with high levels of protein produce a “thermal effect”, which means that it takes more energy to burn the calories, so you will lose more weight.

For the most effective weight loss, you should also spread out your meals. Counting calories will be even more helpful if you can keep your metabolism going all day. This means that you should eat several small meals rather than eating three big meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Instead, place small snacks in between meals, such as fruit or another healthy snack.

And finally, examine your calorie consumption after you have removed the unhealthy foods and added extra meals to your day. If you feel that the amount of calories is still too high, then you should step up your exercise routine, perhaps adding more cardiovascular work. It takes approximately 3,500 calories to make up an entire pound of fat. If you can burn an excess of 7,000 calories each week, you’ll lose two pounds each week.

Despite what the “miracle diet” companies claim, it isn’t healthy to lose thirty pounds in a seven-day period. Fast weight loss usually leads to fast weight gain; once you’ve stopped starving yourself and giving your body metabolism-inhibiting pills, your body will overcompensate and gain it all back. It is much more effective to lose the weight slowly and train your body toward a healthier you.

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