Many brides want to lose a few pounds (or more than a few!) coming up to their big day, and Social & Personal Weddings is here to help.
If you want to lose weight, calorie counting is the most straightforward of them all. What all diets come down to, no matter what foods they prescribe, is taking in less energy than you burn: calories in vs. calories out. It’s simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
So what's it all about?
Depending on your weight, height and activity levels, you will need to take in more or fewer calories. A quick google search will show you many different online calculators for how much you should be eating. The main numbers you want to know are:
BMR - Basic Metabolic Rate: This is the number of calories you burn simply by being alive. If you lay in bed all day not doing anything, this is the amount energy you would use up.
TDEE - Total daily energy expenditure: Your TDEE is the number of calories you burn in a day. This is the number of calories you would eat to maintain your current weight.
Calorie goal: This is the number of calories you should aim to eat each day in order to lose weight at a steady, healthy rate.
The general guide is that one pound of fat equals 3,500 kcal. This means for each pound you want to lose per week, you should cut out 500 kcal a day from your diet. It’s not recommended to lose more than 2 lbs a week however. Between 0.5 lbs to 2 lbs is considered a healthy rate. Any higher and you risk losing muscle as well as fat.
So once you know what your goals are, you just need to need to eat at your calorie goal and you will lose 1-2 lbs a week. Simple, but again, not easy.
What do I eat?
The advantage of calorie counting over other diets is there are no prescribed foods. It doesn’t matter if you eat 1,200 calories of salad or 1,200 calories of chocolate, you will lose weight just the same. Within that, all you need to consider is what nutrients you are getting, and how filling your food is.
How to count
Most products have nutritional information written on the packet, telling you how many calories per 100g. Sometimes they will also list the calories per serving, but in general you should ignore that. Manufacturers want the calories in a serving to be as low as possible so that people will buy it, so they divide contents into tiny amounts. Things which for any reasonable person are a single serving may be divided into 2 or 3 “official” servings.
Save yourself the headache and ignore serving sizes. Just look at the calories per 100g, and do the maths yourself. If you are eating out of a large packet, weigh your portion. If you try to guess how much you are eating you may be in for a rude shock next time you step on the scale.
You’ll also have to learn to count absolutely everything that goes into your meals. There’s no point counting the bread and chicken in your sandwich and forgetting the butter and mayonnaise, which might double the calories. You also need to count things like the oil you use in a stir fry and the milk in your tea. Everything counts.
Exercise is great for general health and fitness, but not the key ingredient for weight loss. You can lose weight without exercise, but you can never outrun a bad diet. It’s far easier to eat calories than burn them off. What it will do though is help you burn off a little bit extra, so that you can either lose weight more quickly or increase your calories. If you aren't a fan of exercise, the extra calorie allowance can be a great incentive but if you really can't bear the gym then just focus on getting your diet right.
Calorie counting is free for anyone to do. You don’t have to buy any books or products, and there are no expensive foods you have to eat. It’s also less restrictive than many other diets, as there are no foods that are off limits. On the other hand you are completely on your own; there are no rule books to tell you what to eat. The flexibility will allow to live your life as normal, just with a bit less on your plate. You will have to do all the hard work yourself however, and measure and count every little thing you eat so if you are the kind of person who doesn't want to have to think about the details, this may not be the diet for you.
- Emer Sugrue