Friday, 19 June 2015

Low Calorie Diet - Does It Work?

Looking for a quick and uncomplicated solution to drop a few pounds so that you can fit into that little black dress of your desires or just to attain your pre-pregnancy figure? Many diets out there are boasting ultra quick weight loss results.
From a dietitian's perspective, that is total rubbish. In order to lose the fats in a controlled manner the low calorie diet plan would be recommended. There has been proof that this diet works and you don't need to be a rocket scientist to carry it out.
Before I elaborate in depth about the low calorie diet, lets get the basic terminology right. The term calorie(kcal) refers to a unit of measurement for energy, and more commonly applies to the measurement of energy in food. So what's the big deal about calories? We need food to give us the energy to carry out our daily tasks. And our body uses these calories to carry out its daily activities or to fuel our workouts.
The problem with most people is they are eating way more calories than they actually need.
Calorie in > Calorie out = Weight gain
Okay now that you understand what causes us to gain weight, follow me though a 3-step plan to help you embark on a low calorie diet plan effectively.

Step 1: Find out what your daily calorie requirement
The amount of calories your body needs is a combination of your basic metabolic rate (BMR) and activity level. So basically anyone can calculate their BMR following the equation below.

Women:
BMR = 655 + (9.6 X weight in kilos) + (1.8 X height in cm) - (4.7 X age in years)

Men:
BMR = 66 + (13.7 X weight in kilos) + (5 X height in cm) - (6.8 X age in years)

To estimate your daily calorie requirement, multiply your BMR using the following table:

Activity Level Total Daily Calorie Requirement
Sedentary (BMR x 20 percent) + BMR
Lightly active (You exercise 1-3 times a week) (BMR x 30 percent) + BMR
Moderately active (You exercise 3-5 times a week) (BMR x 40 percent) + BMR
very active (You exercise intensely on a daily basis) (BMR x 50 percent) + BMR
Extra active (You do hard labor or are in athletic training) (BMR x 60 percent) + BMR
I would assume many of us would be classified as 'lightly active'. Most of us will fall into the category of sedentary of lightly active. So let me give you an example on how it works. The estimated calorie requirment for a 47 year old sedentary woman who is 68kg and 163cm tall will be:
BMR = 655 + (9.6 X 68) + (1.8 X 163) - (4.7 X 47) = 1380 kcal
Total daily calorie requirement = (1380 x 0.2) + 1380 = 1656 kcal

Just to give you an idea, a typical western diet provides 3000-3500 kcal a day which is twice the amount that an average woman needs. This is not surprising given the number of overweight and obese people.

Step 2: Decide on how much you need to cut out from your diet, create a calorie deficit
To lose weight, you need to eat less than what you body needs. If you cut out about 500 calories from your daily diet, that would mean 3500 calories less in a week.
So to put it in simple terms, the lady who requires 1656 kcal will lose approximately 1 pound after a week if she consumes approximately 1150 kcal per day. This is in theory. I would not suggest anyone consuming less than 1200 kcals per day as this will cause your body to lose it's effectiveness in burning fats.
3500kcal deficit = 1 pound of weight loss
If you need to lose 10 pounds, you will need to create a deficit of 35000 kcal. One thing to rememeber is to slowly cut your calories. Don't start jumping on the wagon and starve yourself for the entire week to create a 35000kcal deficit.
A healthy weight loss diet is one that helps you lose 1-3 pounds per week
There is no STATIC DIET. What it means is that if same lady who consumes 3000 kcal per day makes a conscious effort to cut down her calorie intake to 2500kcal daily, She will shed those unwanted pounds. This is because even though she is still consuming more than her actual calorie requirement, her body is reacting favorably to her decreased food intake. Sounds easy in theory? Think again. The hardest part is in the execution.

Step 3: Take note of what you eat
By taking down what you consume you will have a better understanding of your eating habits. You may discover that you are taking in more calories than needed. Okay I admit it is a chore but I guarantee you won't regret it!
Write down all the food and drinks you consume and the estimated amount (in household measurements e.g. cups or tablespoons etc) over a period of 3 days. Try to be as detailed as possible. Do include condiments you may consume e.g. salad dressing, sugar). Remember, keep your diet as normal as possible.
There are many online tools that can assist in calculating your daily calorie intake.
By doing this, you can easily know where the unwanted calories are coming from. You can then decide what to remove from your diet to create the calorie deficit.
As with all dietitians, I love to write meal plans. Here is a sample nutritionally balanced low-calorie meal plan.

Breakfast:
a wholegrain bagel with a thin spread of light cream cheese (300kcal)
1 glass of low fat milk (90kcal)

Mid-morning snack:
1 cup of Low-fat yoghurt (130kcal)

Lunch:
Wholegrain sandwich bread, with a spread of mustard, salad veggies and lean meat (chicken/beef) (350kcal)
1 serving Minestrone soup (150 kcal)

Afternoon snack:
1 serving of fresh fruit (70 kcal)

Dinner:
cup of pasta with tomato sauce + 1 palm size grilled meat/fish or chicken OR cup of lean mince (400kcal)

Side salad with fat-free dressing (70 kcal)
1 serving of fresh fruit (70 kcal)
Total Calories: 1630 kcal

This is just an example and not a definite eating plan. If you follow through with the food diary activity and get yourself familiarized with the general calorie content of foods, you would have already known by now what are the high calorie foods that you need to reduce your intake of.

Here are some easy ways by which you can reduce your calories
1) Go for a diet soda instead of a normal soda
2) Use fat-free salad dressing and low fat mayonnaise
3) Have 2 servings of fresh fruit instead of 2 cups of processed fruit juice
4) Use less oil in your cooking
5) Always choose lean cuts of meat
6) Reducing your portion sizes by a quarter
7) Sharing a dessert instead of having the whole thing by yourself
8) Cut down on the amount of fried stuff you consume
9) Switching to low fat dairy products
10) Drink less alcohol

The key to a successful low calorie diet plan is consistency. Treat yourself to a little something 'sinful' at every milestone. Just don't end up eating a whole chocolate cake and regret it later. Do not be hard on yourself in you exceed your daily calorie intake. It is a collective effort over a period of time that will help you get to the weight you want.

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