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Calories & weight loss

By -Bob Otieno | May 11th 2013 | 3 min read
By -Bob Otieno | May 11th 2013

By Bob Otieno

Calories are a big deal when planning to lose weight. It is obvious that the more calories you consume, the more weight you gain and vice versa.

There are different ways to control your calorie intake, including calorie counting or tracking, following a calorie-controlled meal plan and eating mindfully by managing hunger and fullness. The most important thing to know about calories is that although to lose weight you need to eat less, going too low on calories while dieting can have detrimental effects.


You may probably have heard of this equation: There are 3,500 calories in about 500 grammes of fat. Meaning, if you create a 500-calorie deficit each day, you will lose almost half a kilo per week and if you create a 1,000-calorie deficit each day, you will lose almost a kilo per week.

However, this equation is not always accurate. The reason for this discrepancy is because when your calorie deficit is too large, your body decreases your metabolic rate, which, therefore, closes the gap of deficit. This is a form of survival response, which prevents you from starving. Although this will happen when you reduce your calorie intake for a prolonged period of time, the effect is significant with severe calorie deficit.

If you are just starting a weight loss programme and doing it on your own, it is advised to limit your calorie deficit to 500 calories per day. You can further ensure proper metabolism by splitting the deficit between calories and exercise — eating 250 calories less and burning and extra 250.

It is also important to be patient. Time seems to pass quickly, except when you are weighing yourself daily waiting for those kilos to drop. Losing weight will take time, so it is important to adopt achievable habits and set realistic goals.


1. Determine how many calories you need per day given your age, gender, weight, height, activity level and other factors that affect total calorie expenditure.

2. Decide how you will burn an additional 250 calories daily. Choose a physical activity you enjoy enough to be consistent. Cut your daily calories by 250 per day. Do this using a calorie-tracking tool or contact a fitness and nutritional expert to help you organise weekly meal plans for your target calorie level.

3.Implement your plan and log your progress. You can’t measure something without data, so it is crucial to log your daily food consumption, fluid intake and exercise. Each week, decide on one or two things you are going to improve on. Perhaps you might think of adding five minutes to your daily walk or increasing the speed of your walking. You could also reduce episodes of eating out from five to two times per week.

4.Make the goals specific because a goal like to ‘eat better’ is difficult to track and measure. It is, therefore, not effective in helping you change your habits. With consistent, incremental and calculated steps, you will begin to make progress toward a healthy weight.

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