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Calorie Counting to Lose Weight

If you want to lose weight calorie counting is very effective, both for the initial weight loss and for keeping the weight off long term. Counting calories offers three major advantages in the war against excess weight:

1 - It puts you in touch with reality…

in terms of how many calories you actually need each day. It's easy to be completely out of touch with your natural appetite and your body's needs - especially if you have been dieting on and off for years, or have been using food to satisfy other needs such as the need for 'comfort' or to relieve boredom.

2 - It's completely flexible. 

You won't have to eat separately from everyone - no food or drink is forbidden when you're calorie counting. Provided you eat less calories than you need on a day-to-day basis, or averaged out over a few days, you will lose weight. This makes calorie counting easier to stick to than diets which restrict or forbid certain foods.

3 - It educates you. 

You start learning about how the things you eat and drink affect your weight from the first day you start calorie counting. It's not uncommon for people to find that just by changing 1 or 2 of the foods/drinks they consume habitually, they can make enough of a calorie reduction to lose a pound a week!

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What is a Calorie?

A calorie is a unit used to measure the energy in food and drink (calories consumed) and the energy used by the body to function (calories expended). 1 calorie is the amount of energy needed to increase the temperature of 1g of water by 1 degree centigrade. The number of calories in a particular food depends on the relative proportion of fat, protein, carbohydrate and alcohol in that food.

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Calories in Food

Fat has 9 calories in each gram
Protein has 4 calories in each gram
Carbohydrate has 3.4 calories in each gram
Alcohol has 7 calories in each gram
Water, which makes up the rest of the weight of the food, has no calories

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Calories Burned

The number of calories expended by the body depends on things like your age, your weight, whether you are male or female, how active you are on a day-to-day basis, and whether you do any particular exercise (and how much effort you put into doing it!) We use calories for all bodily functions including the less obvious such as maintaining body temperature and keeping the heart beating as well as activities like going for a walk.

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Calories and Body Weight

Our bodies are very clever in their use and storage of calories. If the calories we consume on a daily basis are roughly equal to the calories we expend, our bodies will neither store any calories, nor use any from its stores, and we'll maintain our weight at its current level. If we consume more calories than we expend, our bodies will store the excess calories as fat, and we'll gain weight. If we consume fewer calories than we expend, our bodies will use their stores to make up the deficit, and we'll lose weight. It's that simple.

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Creating a Negative Calorie Balance to Lose Weight

Making sure that calories consumed are less than calories expended (negative calorie balance) is a sure-fire way to lose weight. You can achieve a negative calorie balance in two ways:

1 - Reduce the number of calories you eat so that you are eating fewer calories than you're burning.

2 - Increase the amount of calories you burn, by becoming more active, so that you burn more calories than you consume.

Health professionals tend to agree that the best way of achieving healthy, permanent weight loss is a mixture of both, People trying to lose weight find it easier if they are using both tactics, mainly because they can eat more if they exercise more!

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