What It Takes to Lose Weight: Calorie Basics

Friday, November 30, 2012

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When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to remember that because the pounds pack on over time, they will have to come off over time.  Slow and steady weight loss—about 1 to 2 pounds a week—is the best approach for losing weight safely and keeping it off for the long-term.  How we manage our calories plays a big role in weight loss. 

Creating a calorie deficit

“Calorie deficit” basically means you need to have more calories going out than coming in. Here are the basics:

  • How much of a deficit do I need to lose weight?

    One pound is about 3,500 calories. So if you want to lose 1 pound per week, you will need to cut 500 calories per day to get to a 3,500 calorie deficit for the week. You can do this by decreasing the total number of calories you take in through food and beverages (liquid calories count!) and by increasing the total number of calories you burn off by being more physically active.


  • How can I decrease calories in?

    The best way to decrease “calories in” is to focus on Nourishing Your Body with healthy foods. When trying to manage weight it’s easy to think about the foods we can’t eat. The good news is that you don’t have to give up all of your favorite foods. The key is to balance what you’re eating —eat more of the healthy stuff and eat less of the not-so-healthy stuff.


  • How can I increase calories out?

    The best way to increase “calories out” is to Get Your Body Moving each day. With more physical activity, you burn more calories. Everyday choices to be active (like taking the stairs instead of the elevator) can help. It is also important to get your heart pumping with longer-lasting cardiovascular activities and tone your muscles with strength training exercises several times a week. Here’s the scoop on how many calories you can burn with different activities.


Try This!
Tracking your calories in and calories out is a great way to get started with healthy weight loss. Check out the USDA SuperTracker or download an app for your phone, like My Fitness Pal. Exit disclaimer

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