low calorie

Low Calorie Diet Plans

In many ways, low calorie diet plans are the simplest way for you to lose weight. Decrease your calorie intake to less than your body needs each day and you will statr to lose weight. Simple.

If increased weight is the result of eating more than you need over a sustained period, then it follows that losing weight requires that you eat less for a while.

Why Follow A Low Calorie Diet Plan?

There are of course pros and cons to following a low cal diet.

The biggest advantage is that it really isn't that complicated. You simply need to understand what you are eating, how much you are eating and then how you calculate the calories you are taking in vs your daily rquirements (based on your weight, size and gender).

How To Work Out Your Calories

First off you need to know how many calories your body needs each day. There are a number of ways to work this out, but the general things you need to know are :

  • Your basal metabolic rate (Click here for your BMR)
  • What physical activity you do each day (walking to running or sports)
  • The TEF (Thermic Effect of Food)

This last point - the TEF - relates to the amount of energy it takes for your body to digest, absorb, and metabolise foods you eat.

How Do You Calculate It

You'll need some basic kitchen scales, a pencil, paper and maybe a calculator. Seriously that's it!

Knowing your intake of calories, your required daily calories (which can be calculated using your BMR) means you can then see the positive or negative balance based on what you've consumed.

Eat more calories than your body needs - you're going to be storing those calories as fats. Have a negative balance - i.e. the number of calories you consume is LESS than what your body needs - and you will be burning fats to create the energy your body needs.

What Is Your BMR?

Put quite crudely, the amount of energy (which is measured by calories) your body needs while resting.

One of the more widely used (as it is more accurate) is the revised Harris-Benedict formula by Mifflin and St Jeor in 1990 :

Men's BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) - (5 × age in years) + 5

Women's BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) - (5 × age in years) - 161

Using the height, weight age and gender variables is quite an accurate way of calculating, rather than calculating calories required based just on body weight.

However it does omit lean body mass as a factor - which relates to the ratio of muscle:body fat. Leaner body's with more muscle, require more calories than less lean ones. That means the BMR equation will be  very accurate unless you are very muscular (it underestimates the calories you needs or the obese/very fat (it therefore over-estimates those calorie needs).

Why Is This  A Good Way?

What makes this approach so easy is that all packaged foods are required to show their nutrition information. Simply use the information to calculate how many calories you get from your chosen serving size.

When you eat foods that are not packaged, like fresh meats, fruit and vegetables, there are numerous books and websites that provide this type of information to help you judge and very accurately guess the calories you will consuming.

Even eating out shouldn't be a problem either, as many restaurants provide calorie information on their website. Another advantage of low calorie diets is that there are no particular foods that are forbidden. You can eat a range of whatever foods you like, as long as your total food intake stays within the daily limit.

Downsides Of Counting Calories

The principal downside is that it makes no distinction between the nutritional values of different foods. So, for example, you could eat nothing but Mars bars and fizzy drinks and still remain within your daily calorie limit by number, but you'd obviously be missing out on a host of important nutrients and completely blowing your ODA of sugars.

Other potential problems include restricting your food intake too much, which again incurs the risk of missing essential nutrients, and also losing weight too fast.

Gradual weight loss is not only healthier, but in addition, those who lose weight more slowly tend to keep the weight off. Around a pound per week is considered a safe average.

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