Taking control of your diet is crucial to you self esteem, your body image, and your long term health. There are a couple of points that need to be clarified before we dig into how to take control.
- You can not lose fat in a particular area by doing certain exercises or eating certain foods. There is a common misconception that you can do things like get a six pack in a week by following a certain workout program. If you can lose fat from a certain area, why did you store it there in the first place? You don’t have control where you will lose the fat from first. You can increase the muscle size under that fat which may spread that same fat over a larger area, but the amount of fat itself wont disappear from exercising that body part.
- The way you lose fat is by consuming less calories than you use. The build up of fat is just an excessive calorie consumption whether from protein, carbohydrates, or fat.
The first step is figuring out how many calories you need to consume to maintain where you are. There are a variety of online tools available that you can use to get an estimate of how many calories you need:
Try a couple to see the differences. Remember, these are best used as guidelines.
Now that you know how many calories you should eat to maintain where you are, figure out how many calories you are actually eating. The more exact the better, but even just a rough estimate can be enlightening. If you frequent restaurants that have their nutrition information available, use that to calculate your calories. If you buy processed or prepacked food that has nutrition information, use that. If you prepare most of your food use a scale, such as the Ozeri Pro Digital Kitchen Food Scale. There are a few tools online that you can use with the scale to help you estimate the calorie content of foods. If you type “Nutrition Facts Broccoli” into Google it will give you a sidebar with the nutrition facts and the ability to adjust how much you have selected. You can do this with a variety of foods, though Google doesn’t have them all. For other foods you can try one of these websites: SELFNutritionData, myfitnesspal, or CalorieKing.
You now know the two essential things, how many calories your body needs and how many calories you consume. If you want to lose weight you need to consume less calories than your body currently needs. This deficit can be achieved by increasing the calories you burn by adding additional exercise into your life, or you can reduce the calories you consume. It’s that simple. The more you learn about nutrition the better decisions you can make, but this is a good start. Try to have a daily deficit of no more than 500 calories. For example, if at your current state you need to eat 2500 calories per day, consume no less than 2000 calories per day. This will require your body to burn some fat in order to reach its required energy needs, but will not be such a large deficit that it will promote muscle loss. There’s no time to start like the present. How many calories are in your next meal? Take control and meet your goals.