Calories and losing weight

By Chay Westall

How many people can say they go a whole day without thinking about calories and losing weight?

Calories are the body's energy source, it fuels you when completing your daily circuit class, and even when walking to the kitchen to make that morning cup of tea. Still we devote so much time to calorie counting…they’re not the enemy, are they?

Well! The last report published by the NHS shows that 26% of the UK’s adult population is obese, up 15% since 1993. Yet the 2018 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report revealed there are 9.9 million fitness members, more than ever before! So why are obesity levels still rising?

The simple matter of the fact is, your body will have plateaued. It has been adapted by three main areas: diet, activity level, and resting metabolic rate, you are the final product. To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you use. Obviously, it can get extremely complicated with what your body needs including: carbohydrates, fats and a whole array of micronutrients.

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Protein seems to be a macronutrient that is commonly over consumed, especially in the fitness industry. If asked, would you know how much protein you need to consume a day? A competing bodybuilder for example, may need to consume around 1.7g of protein per kg of their body weight a day; if that man weighed 80kg, he would need 136g (just under 23 large eggs or 481g of chicken breast).

However, that’s for a bodybuilder, the rest of us only need 0.8-1.2g/kg, and yet, the last national nutrition survey showed that we consume 45-55% more than recommended. With weight gain being a side effect of excess protein, over consumption certainly doesn’t help lower obesity levels.

So, what about all these different diets: low-calorie, low-Carb, vegan… Are they working? They can but only because the calorie intake is less, simple! Despite this, did you know that the weight you lose on extreme low-calorie diets tends to be muscle mass and not fat? Realistically then, you have three options:

  1. Gradually reducing your calorie intake while sticking to the same routine such as snacking on a banana rather than a Bounty.
  2. Maintaining the same diet and increasing activity levels, for example a female going for a brisk 30 minute walk a day, 5-days a week will expend an extra 550 calories.
  3. A little of both.

Everyone knows what foods and drinks are bad for them, you don’t need to look at the contents to figure it out. Make small changes to your diet and lifestyle and you’ll start to notice the difference.