Eat less calories and exercise more. If only it was that easy! Losing weight may be difficult, as most dieters are aware. A variety of factors can influence how people acquire and lose weight, as this article explains. But a basic understanding of how to tip your energy balance in favor of weight loss is a good place to start. Begin by calculating how many calories you should consume on a daily basis. To do so, you must first determine the number of calories required to maintain your present weight. A few basic calculations are required to do this. Begin by calculating how many calories you should consume on a daily basis. To do so, you must first determine the number of calories required to maintain your present weight. A few basic calculations are required to do this. 

To get an estimate of how many calories per pound of body weight you’ll need to maintain your current weight if you’re moderately active, multiply your current weight by 15. To be moderately active, you must engage in at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, such as exercise (walking at a brisk pace, climbing stairs, or active gardening). Let’s assume you’re a 5-foot-4-inch-tall lady who weighs 155 pounds and has to shed 15 pounds to be into a healthy weight range. When you divide 155 by 15, you get 2,325, which is the number of calories you require each day to stay at your present weight. You’ll need to drop below that number to lose weight. To lose 1 to 2 pounds per week — a safe rate, according to experts — your food intake should be 500 to 1,000 calories lower than your total weight-maintenance calories. Reduce your daily calories to between 1,325 and 1,825, if you require 2,325 calories to maintain your present weight. If you are sedentary, you will need to include more physical exercise into your daily routine. To lose at least a pound each week, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical exercise on most days and a 500-calorie reduction in your daily calorie consumption. Unless under the guidance of a health professional, calorie consumption should not go below 1,200 calories per day for women and 1,500 calories per day for males.

How will you achieve your daily calorie goal? One strategy is to total up the calories per serving of all the items you consume and then schedule your meals appropriately. Many meals have books available that indicate the calories per serving. In addition, all packaged foods and beverages have nutrition labels that list the calories per serving. Read the labels of the foods and beverages you consume, noting the amount of calories and portion sizes. Similar information may be found in many cookbooks, newspapers, and publications. If you don’t like counting calories, another option is to limit how much and how often you eat, and to eat low-calorie meals. The American Heart Association’s dietary guidelines emphasize utilizing common sense when picking meals rather than relying solely on figures such as total calories or calories from fat. Whatever strategy you use, research suggests that sticking to a regular eating schedule — with meals and snacks scheduled at specific times throughout the day — is the most effective. The same is true if you’ve lost weight and want to maintain it. Maintaining your new weight is more likely if you stick to an eating routine.

Some individuals try to cut fat from their diet since fat provides more than twice as many calories per gram than carbs or proteins, at 9 calories per gram (4 calories per gram). You may save dozens or even hundreds of calories each day by swapping lean cuts of meat for fatty ones, avoiding high-fat packaged foods and snacks, and avoiding fat-rich items like butter and partly hydrogenated fats. On the other side, many individuals incorrectly believe that losing weight necessarily entails calorie reduction. Because manufacturers employ more sugar to compensate for the flavor lost when the fat is removed, some fat-free goods actually have more calories than conventional counterparts.

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