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How to Count Calories to Lose Weight
If losing weight were easy, everyone would be thin. And while there is no magic wand that sheds pounds, there is one tried-and-true method to lose weight: Consume fewer calories than you burn.

To do this effectively, you probably need to count calories, something that can be onerous in the beginning but will soon become second nature.

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Step One: Compute out how many calories you typically consume in a day.
The easiest way to do this is to keep a food journal. For one week, write down everything you eat and drink. Using any online search tool, type in the words "food calorie calculator" to determine how many calories are in each item. Add up the calories for each day. This is your baseline number.

Step Two: Compute how many calories you should consume to lose weight.
Here is the basic math: One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. If you cut 500 calories a day, you should lose about one pound a week. How many calories you should consume to lose weight is based on your age, gender, height, weight and exercise level. To figure it out, go to any online search tool and type "daily calorie intake calculator." Choose one you like, fill in the information and presto! You have your number. The tool will tell you how many calories you can consume daily to maintain your weight and how many you should consume to lose weight. (Don't skip this step. Some popular diets limit the daily calories to just 1,200, which may be far too low--and even dangerous--for someone who is very active. It could also be too high for someone who is sedentary.)

Step Three: Keep a food journal.
Continue keeping a food journal, recording everything you eat and drink and the calorie counts of each item. This will keep you honest in your calorie counting.

Step Four: Weigh yourself.
If you faithfully eat less and move more, you will lose weight. So celebrate!

Don't fall for this dangerous diet trick! Although it's gone viral as an easy way to lose weight, it doesn't work--and it could make you ill.

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