Irrespective of all the weight loss strategies out there, weight loss is all about balancing your calorie intake and the calories you consume. The most important secret to weight loss is following a calorie deficit diet. In this article we are going to learn what calorie deficit means and what are the best ways to cut calories from your daily diet.
There are countless fad diets which recommend all kinds of inventive foods for weight loss. But it all boils down to eating less calories if you want to shed pounds.
What are calories
Calories are actually the fuel of the body. Our bodies need constant energy for functioning. This energy comes from the calories that we eat as food. Our foods consist of carbs, proteins and fats. Regardless of the origin of the calories, these are either consumed by conversion into physical energy or stored as fat in the body as reserve calories which will be used when body is facing deficiency of calories.
The calories which are stored as fats in your body will keep piling up unless you reduce your calorie intake so that the body taps into these reserve energy resources of fat cells.
Roughly one pound of fat (about 0.45kg) is equal to 3500 calories. Therefore, doing the reverse mathematics it means that if you want to shed one pound of weight, you need to burn 3500 calories.
But this calorie deficit needs to be introduced in a gradual manner. Therefore, you can divide these calories over 7 days of the week and the daily calorie deficit comes to 500 calories.
However, this is not all that simple because when you lose weight, you lose a combination of fat, body tissue and body water weight. And because of the metabolism changes in the body with weight loss, you might need to increase your calorie deficit to avoid hitting weight loss plateau and continue weight loss.
How to cut calories for calorie deficit
There are basically three easy ways of cutting calories:
- Avoid high calorie and low nutrition foods
- Replacing high calorie foods with lower calorie options
- Controlling portion sizes
Cutting low high calorie foods
To start with you can avoid one or two high calorie foods. For example, you may skip eating the flavored latte in the morning and take black coffee in its place. You can introduce a calorie deficit of 250 calories. Similarly you can save 280 calories if you can avoid a cup of chocolate ice cream. By having sparkling water in place of lemon-lime soda, you can reduce 200 calories from your diet.
Changing high calorie foods with low calorie alternatives
When you are trying to cut calories by following a calorie deficit diet plan, you can effectively reduce calorie intake by swapping simple high calorie foods with low calorie substitutes. For example, when you drink skim milk in place of whole milk, you can reduce 60 calories. You can enjoy frozen yogurt in place of ice cream.
Reducing portion sizes
A very subtle way of reduce calories is by controlling portion sizes. If you reduce your portion size by half, you also reduce the number of calories you eat into half. For example, you can enjoy a 4 ounce serving of orange juice which has 55 calories in place of 8 ounces orange juice which packs 110 calories. This way you can still continue to enjoy your favorite foods and still be losing weight.
More weight loss tips
In addition to the above three basic calorie deficit diet tips, the following 4 weight loss tips also help in getting control of your calorie intake.
- Take smaller first serving. You can always get a second serving if you feel hungry afterwards.
- Eat in plates. Do not eat in food containers because you will eat more. By eating in plates you can keep track of the food you eat. You are more likely to overeat if you eat from the packages.
- Read food labels. Sometimes the serving sizes of the foods may surprise you. For example, it might turn out that your chips pack has two servings. And you might have been eating double calories all the time. Therefore, do read food labels.
- Count calories. Use some good calorie counter source to count calories of your food. There are many apps available. SuperTracker at ChooseMyPlate.gov is a good such option.
By opting for low calorie foods and controlling your portion sizes, you can effectively cut your calories and witness weight loss. Couple this with regular physical activity for a weight management plan that is not only successful but also sustainable in the long run.