The truth about calories!
Calorie counting is meant to be key to staying slim, but does it really work?
When it comes to dieting, calories have been seen as the key to success however 63% of woman have no idea how many they should be eating. Celebrities have raved about losing weight simply by reducing their calorie intake one being WAG Coleen Rooney. The 24 year old has followed the calorie controlled Weight Watchers diet saying, “It’s all about choosing the healthy option. I love crisps, but I’ll go for Quavers or Wotsits as they’re lower in calories”. Fellow WAG Alex Gerrard reduced her portion sizes and increased fitness to slim to a size 8. “Like most women, I love shopping, and one hour of pounding pavements burns 286 calories!” she said. A US survey found most women don’t know how many calories to stick to. The guidelines state woman should consume about 2,000 calories daily, experts state calorie intake varies from person to person.
What are calories?
A calorie is a unit of energy contained in the food and drink we consume which was first defined by Professor Nicolas Clément in 1824 as a unit of heat. Calories are found in all food products digestible by the body which is in the form of carbohydrates, fats, or proteins. They are burned off to produce energy, or will be stored as fat if too many are consumed.
You burn calories to provide energy for three main functions:
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – This is the amount of calories you burn just by being alive, even when you are lying down, doing nothing. This varies from person to person and explains why some people with a high BMR are slim despite eating more food.
Burning Calories for Activity – This is the energy used during movement – from lifting your arm to operate the remote control to cleaning the windows. This accounts for approximately 30% of the calories burned by an average person.
Dietary Thermogenesis – The ‘thermogenic effect’ which is when the calories are burned in the process of eating, digesting, absorbing and using food.
How many calories do you need?
The average woman is advised to consume 2,000 calories each day whereas the average man is advised to consume 2,500 each day to maintain their weight. Experts however state the amount of calories needed also depends on age, height and weight. If you wish to lose weight, you are advised to reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories daily. “For weight loss of 1 or 2lbs per week, people need to eat 500 fewer calories a day”, states Jayne Brocklehurst, a dietitian. “So if the average woman needs 2,000 to stay the same, she’ll need about 1,500 to lose weight”.
Is counting calories really the answer?
The author of The Obesity Epidemic, Zoe Harcombe, believes the answer to be no. “If it did work, so many British people wouldn’t be overweight”. “Counting calories simply drives you to eating more wrong foods. Carbohydrates are fairly low in calories so calorie-counters end up eating them” she says. “We need to eat food as nature delivers it. Cut out all processed food, sugar and flour and eat superfoods, fish, and even bacon and eggs instead of Special K”.
Can I increase my BMR?
Yes. There are many ways to boost your metabolism so that you burn more calories when you are in ‘rest’ mode.
Lift some weights – The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns.
Eat often – Ensure you eat as some experts believe that eating little and often raises your metabolism, while starving yourself lowers it.
Running – If you do high-intensity exercise, your burn more calories afterwards – known as the ‘after-burn effect’.
Eat the right foods – Caffeine is known to stimulate your metabolism, which is why Victoria Beckham is a fan of pu-erh tea. Spicy foods are known to do the same, so add some chilli!
How to work out your calorie quota
To work out how many calories you should eat in a day based on your personal statistics, first calculate your BMR. If is based on your height, weight, age and sex and worked out using the formula below:
WOMEN: BMR = 655 + (4.35 X weight in lbs) + (4.7 X height in ins) – (4.7 x ages in years)
MEN: BMR = 66 + (6.23 X weight in lbs) + (12.7 X height in ins) – (6.8 x ages in years)
For example, the BMR of a 31-year-old woman weighing 109lbs and being 62ins tall, is calculated like this:
655 + (4.35 X 109 = 474.15) + (4.7 X 62 = 291.4) – (4.7 X 31 = 145.7)
Her BMR is 1,274.85.
Next you need to calculate how many calories you need to eat to maintain your weight. To do this, multiply your BMR by the amount of exercise you do:
– If you are sedentary (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2
– If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days per week): BMR x 1.37
– If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days per week): BMR x 1.55
– If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days per week): BMR x 1.725
– If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports and a very physical job): BMR x 1.9
For example, our female is moderately active; we would work out how many calories she should eat per day to maintain her weight like this: BMR of 1,274 x 1.55 = 1,976 calories.
Any extra calories need to be burned off to maintain weight. Of if she wanted to lose weight, she would need to reduce her intake by 500 calories or increasing her activity levels. It is most effective if you combine reducing calories along with increasing activity levels.
As seen in new! magazine.
Count calories and lose 10 pounds in 3 days on the British Heart Foundation Diet!