When it comes to weight loss, it all boils down to calories in vs. calories out. Calories are a scientific measure of the energy in food. Our bodies need a constant supply of energy (calories) to do everything from physical activity to carrying out basic vital functions like breathing and digesting food. Caitlin McCullough, RD, LD, clinical dietitian with the Lake Health Bariatric Surgery Center, explains how calorie counting could help promote weight loss:
How many calories do you need a day?
It depends. Everyone burns a different amount of calories each day; this is called your basal metabolic rate (BMR). It is affected by age, gender, muscle tone and the thyroid gland.
Calories and weight
If you burn 2,000 calories a day and consume 2,000 calories a day, your weight will be stable. If you consume more calories than you burn, you will store them in the form of fat and gain weight. If you consume fewer calories than you burn, you begin to lose weight by using up your fat stores as energy. 3,500 calories = one pound of stored fat, so if you reduce your daily calorie consumption by 500 calories a day, you should lose about one pound per week.
The only way to know how many calories you should consume each day to promote weight loss is by first counting your calories. If you are not losing weight at your current calorie consumption, it’s time to cut back. Try tracking your calories with a food diary or an app to help you determine how many calories you typically consume.
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About the Author
Caitlin McCullough, RD, LD, is a clinical dietitian with the Lake Health Bariatric Surgery Center in Willoughby. She meets with bariatric surgery patients before and after surgery, and conducts nutrition classes.
Caitlin loves educating patients about nutrition and helping them obtain their health goals. In her free time, Caitlin enjoys grocery shopping for new healthy foods and staying physically active.