A health goal for many people is losing weight, but as important to that goal is the method used to achieve it. People often push themselves too hard to obtain results that in any other circumstance would be considered unhealthy. Still, because the goal is health, rapid weight loss is often praised, primarily by those who do not know any better.
Obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight is a worthy goal, and there are numerous studies to suggest why weight loss can be beneficial. The body must experience a calorie deficit to lose weight, but you mustn't eliminate too many calories from your diet.
The Difference Between Calorie Deficits and Calorie Counts
People often only look at one side of the calorie discussion, which says fewer calories result in more pounds lost. Unfortunately, that is not a healthy outlook, and it can lead to eating disorders and other problems.
The idea of healthy calorie consumption is to consume enough calories to fuel the body's activities for any given day, no more, no less. However, to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories so that your body converts stored fat into energy.
When people only look at calorie counts, they jump to extreme restrictions, like 1,000 calories or less per day. While these extremes will result in weight loss, they are detrimental to your overall health.
To calculate your needed deficit and calorie intake, you need to consider your gender, weight, current consumption habits, activity levels, and more. You do not want to assume anything.
Calculating Your Calorie Needs and Deficit
To figure out your calorie needs, the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends using the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation: (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) - (5 x age in years) - 161 (for women) or + 5 (for men). That means for a 5’4“, 25-year-old woman weighing 150 pounds; she would need 1,413 calories to support her body at rest.
If you do not feel like doing the math, you can look for an online calculator, of which there are plenty. The main thing is to understand these are estimates.
If you want a more accurate depiction of your calorie and deficit needs, it is always best to talk to your doctor. Most physicians have their own methods for determining the needs of their patients, but they are the most qualified to speak to your health and dietary requirements, except possibly a nutritionist.
It’s Not Always About How Much You Eat, But What You Eat
Reducing calories is not automatically going to lead to a healthier you. You can reduce calories and lose weight, but you will be unhealthy if you are still consuming unhealthy foods. Losing weight is about making lifestyle changes, eating whole fruits and vegetables, restricting refined carbs in favor of complex and healthy carbs. If you do not understand the principles of a balanced and nutritious diet, it is likely best to focus on education first.
Losing weight is an admirable goal, and for some, it can mean the difference between a long, happy life or one plagued by medical complications. There is no denying the need for a calorie deficit, but before you chop your calories, make sure you know how many you need every day.
What do you think of calorie counting and calorie deficits? Do you have any questions or opinions on the subject? Leave a comment below.