Calories for Weight Loss: How Many Do You Need?

November 22, 2011

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caloriesWhile we’re starting to realize that there’s a lot more to losing excess pounds than calories in, calories out, there’s no escaping that they do play a big role. So do you understand calories for weight loss and figuring out how many (or how few) you need?

In a nutshell, it all begins by figuring out your basal metabolic rate, or BMR. Your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories your body burns each day at rest. Knowing this number helps determine your calories for weight loss. On average, if you eat 500 calories a day less than your BMR you should lose about one pound a week.

However, what we’re finding is that two people with similar activity levels and other factors may not burn calories at the same rate, which can alter their true BMR number by as much as 30 percent. Other issues, such as genetics, certain medications, age, medical conditions, and gender, can further complicate the calories for weight loss calculation.

Likewise, misunderstandings about calories for weight loss abound. For example, some weight loss plans advise people to eat as many fruits and vegetables as they like. While these are certainly healthy foods, they do contain calories and in some cases more than you might guess.

Further complicating things, most people tend to underestimate the number of calories they are actually eating by up to 40 percent. Keeping a faithful food journal and counting up the calories in everything you eat from your meals to the piece of candy from the reception desk at the office is a great tool for keeping track of your true calories for weight loss.

Another common error people make is cutting too many calories, which can trigger a starvation response in the body, slow the metabolism, and lead to muscle loss rather than fat loss. This may then lead to an even slower metabolism and yo-yo weight loss and gain. This is one big reason why many fad diets might work initially, but the weight doesn’t stay off for long.

As you can see, figuring out your calories for weight loss isn’t as easy as it first seems. That’s why at The Center for Medical Weight Loss we don’t put everyone on a one-size-fits-all plan. Instead we begin with a comprehensive medical exam utilizing the most advanced equipment available that can tell us, among other things, exactly how many calories your individual body burns per day and how many calories for weight loss you need.

From there we create an individual plan that will not only help you lose excess weight quickly, but can also help keep it off for good. Then we support your success every step of the way with regular check-ups, advice for overcoming any obstacles you face, and a prescription diet or weight loss medications if needed.

So if you have tried counting calories for weight loss in the past and it hasn’t worked as well as you’d like, visit a Center for Medical Weight Loss and let us help you figure out your individual weight loss puzzle.

Dr. Michael Kaplan

Founder and Chief Medical Officer

The Center for Medical Weight Loss

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Comments (4)

[…] body called the starvation response that taps into muscle instead of fat to make up for the fewer calories coming in. This slows the metabolism and makes losing weight and keeping it off harder and harder […]

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[…] that experts once believed that if Americans cut back on how much fat they ate, they would also cut overall calories and that could solve the nation’s soaring obesity […]

[…] a similar way, one apple contains around 95 calories. One grapefruit weighs in at 100 calories. As you can see, these common fruits, while healthy, may […]

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