I remember when I was a child, I observed my mother going on an extreme low calorie diet – eating only cabbage soup and bananas. I was disgusted by the soup, but impressed that she lost weight in such a short time. However, the weight loss didn’t stick. Eventually, she went back to eating normally and gained back the weight she had lost. Dramatically cutting calories is not the “be all and end all” of dieting.
What are calories? Calories are a measure of the energy in foods. Your body needs enough calories simply to sustain itself. Fat, protein and carbohydrate all contain calories that the body uses to fuel its activities.
How many calories are enough? There is no magic number – your calorie intake depends on what you weigh, your age, activity level, and your body size and composition. In general, to maintain your current weight while leading a sedentary life requires a minimum of fourteen (14) calories per pound. Your job is to figure the number of calories you have been getting from your diet.
To cut calories, try whole foods over processed ones. You’ll get more “bang” for your “caloric buck”. By drinking water instead of sodas, or even fruit juices, you can cut hundreds of empty calories.
However, beware of dieting that makes you dip below your needed calories. You’re more likely to become deficient in vitamins and minerals, and starve your body. This will waste lean body mass, which will lower your metabolism – all factors working against a healthy body.
If you are serious about weight loss, evaluate your eating habits as a whole. It’s important to choose nutrient-dense foods. High-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, can help with weight loss by making you feel fuller and giving you vital nutrients you need. In addition to watching your calorie intake, regular exercise is vital. A friend shared, “When I was in weight-loss mode, I found that when the scale was threatening to get stuck on one spot, a good way to get it moving again was to bump up my exercise a bit.”
This is what my mother learned as well. Going on extreme low-calorie diets was not the answer. Eating healthy, with an eye on calories, combined with a regular exercise program was what she taught me.
Blessings on the road to health!