If you are interested in losing weight, you probably know that you need to use more calories than you take in. So, how do you reduce your caloric intake while still getting enough calories to keep your body fuelled?
Calories are how much energy you get from eating certain foods, including beverages. Most of the food we eat contains calories from carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Some contain zero calories like water, while some contain empty calories such as fizzy drinks and sweets.
In some circles, there are discussions about good and bad calories. This is a myth because your body processes all calories the same, the only difference being the number of calories it gets from different types of food.
While calories are almost always at the centre of weight-loss discussions, it is important to remember that your body needs calories as they are a critical source of fuel that you cannot live without.
How Many Calories Do I Need?
Everybody utilises calories differently. So, finding the right number for you will depend on various factors and it is always about finding the right balance: take in less than what you utilise and you lose weight; take in more than you utilise, and you gain weight.
The factors that affect how many calories you need include sex, age, height, weight and level of activity. That said, average men need about 2000-2400 calories with average women needing 1200-1500 calories a day. As a general rule, you should never consume less than 1200 calories if you are not obese or have diabetes. This is because doing so triggers what is known as starvation mode where your body holds on to calories just to keep you going until your next meal.
Generally, the number of calories one needs peaks during adolescence, with teenage boys needing up to 3000 calories and teenage girls needing up to 2200 calories.
Low-calorie diets are perfect for people who want to combine diet with exercise. The goal here is to reduce the number of calories you consume while getting enough calories to keep our body fuelled. Remember that depending on your physical activity, you might have to adjust your caloric intake to match your level of activity.
When on a low-calorie diet, you might have difficulty meeting minimum mineral and vitamin needs. Whilst supplements are useful to a certain extent, know that there are some key nutrients found in your diet that cannot be found in supplements.
Very Low-Calorie Diets
A very low-calorie diet is a diet that restricts the number of calories you take in a day. When on this diet, you usually get 800-1500 calories a day. In most cases, these diets consist of formulas, bars, shakes and ready-made meals with a restricted number of calories.
Low-calorie diets are very effective for people who have a BMI of over 30. A very-low calorie diet can help them lose 3-5 pounds a week. Since most of these diets are made to be taken over 12 weeks, expect to see a loss of about 44 pounds in that period.
A common problem for people on this diet is that they do not take balanced meals, or have trouble meeting their daily mineral and vitamin requirements. Cutting the number of calories you take does not mean cutting out certain food classes and you still need a way to get your minerals and vitamins. This is why very-low calorie diets such as the one from Shake That Weight incorporate all food groups, vitamins and minerals while keeping the number of calories per meal in check.
The very-low calorie diet from Shake That Weight contains the right amount of healthy fats and carbohydrates, and the correct daily vitamin requirements and proteins. All of these combined make for a diet plan that will help you lose weight while keeping you fuelled. It is ideal for both men and women.
Advantages of a Very-Low Calorie Diet
Losing weight with a very-low calorie diet allows you to help improve weight-related medical conditions including:
- High blood pressure
- High Cholesterol
Losing that much weight can also help with other issues such as back pain caused by weight, cancer and arthritis.
Are You Getting Enough Calories?
It is worth repeating that you need enough calories to get you through the day while taking into account your activity level. If you are not getting enough calories, here is how you will know:
- You are feeling sluggish, sleepy or drowsy – If you feel any of these while on a diet, your body is trying to get you to reduce your activity level so you can conserve the little energy you have.
- You are bored or hungry all the time – Both of these are signals from your body that it cannot keep up.
- Your weight loss results are stagnant – When your body does not have enough energy, it has a hard time metabolising anything. Because of this, it is not able to break down fats and proteins – processes that help with weight loss. In addition, your body might decide to have all its calories because it thinks you are starving, which you are if you are not getting enough calories to get by.
Are There Any Side Effects to Low and Very Low-Calorie Diets?
In addition to some of the effects outlined above, some of the other issues reported by people on a low-calorie diet include constipation, diarrhoea and nausea. All of these should subside within a few weeks but if they do not or you are having a hard time keeping up with your dieting plan, talk to a nutritionist.
If you are on a very low-calorie diet and lose a lot of weight quickly, there is a minute chance of gallstones forming. When your body has a caloric deficit, it breaks down fat in a process known as lipolysis. The liver produces more cholesterol which combines with bile to form the gallstones.
Keeping Track and Maintaining Your Results
You should keep track of how many calories you are getting when on a diet. Fortunately, many weight loss plans usually have the number of calories you are taking noted down.
If you decide to reduce your caloric intake by yourself, you can use online tools to track your caloric intake. This is usually as simple as entering the foods you eat into an online tool. These tools also allow you to set targets for the number of calories you should be taking every day to keep you on track.
To maintain the gains made in your weight loss efforts, you may need to make some lifestyle changes. For example, you need to reduce foods that make you gain weight and incorporate exercise into your routine. For workouts, start slow and increase the intensity and length of your workouts as you get more comfortable.
Keeping track of your calories while you lose weight is very important because you need enough energy to get through the day as well as support any physical activities you do. When losing weight by reducing your caloric intake, you can choose between a low-calorie diet and a very low-calorie diet if your BMI is over 30. Finally, always talk to a nutritionist if you experience any dire side effects when on a diet.