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How to Cut Calories and Lose Weight

Updated on January 11, 2015

How Many Calories Do I Need?

Everyone knows the easiest way to lose weight is to cut calories, but not everyone knows how to do that. The first thing you need to figure out is how many calories a day you need. Once you have that number you can determine your weight loss plan. There are many websites you can go on to determine your basal metabolic rate which is the number of calories per day your body burns or the number of calories you can eat to maintain your current weight. Here is one link you can use: http://walking.about.com/cs/calories/l/blcalcalc.htm

The basal metabolic rate is determined by your gender, height, weight, age and physical activity. Be honest as all of these factors play a major role in your rate. Don't put down moderately active if you are only going on leisurely strolls a few days a week.

Now that you have that number, say it's 2000 calories, you now have to figure out how to eat less than that per day. By reducing just 500 calories a day (either by eating less or exercising..but ideally both) you could lose up to 1 pound per week. And by 500 calories per day I mean everyday... that's Monday through Sunday not Monday through Friday afternoon! The weekends count people.

**one note, just be sure not to go below 1200 calories per day as this is not safe and will make you extremely cranky!

Tips To Cut Calories

Here are some tips that will help to get to the 500 calorie deficit per day:

1. I'm not a big fan of low fat or no fat except when it comes to milk. If you use whole milk switch to 2%. If you already use 2% try 1% and so on until you can get to skim milk. This has only 80 calories per 1 cup serving. Another alternative to try is almond milk. Some brands have as low as 30 calories per 1 cup serving. While I don't like almond milk in my morning latte, I do enjoy it in cereal instead of cows milk as well as in smoothies (just be careful with the smoothies...you may think you are doing something good for yourself but by the time you are done blending you could end up with more calories than you had planned. Watch the calories on each ingredient as well as the serving size).

2. Use smaller plates. Using a smaller plate will make less food look like more to your eye and should thus make you have smaller portions. Even with the smaller plates, try to leave a few forkfuls...Despite what your mom has always told you, you don't need to clean your plate.

3. Don't eat out! The number of calories in restaurant potions is huge. For big chains like Cheesecake Factory and the like, you can go on line and look up the nutritional info for their dishes. Once you take a look you will realize how many calories they have. If you can't avoid going out, check out the website before hand and try to pick the lowest calorie items. When your dinner arrives as for a to go carton and put half of your meal in it. Don't forget drinks have calories too!

4. Measure, measure, measure. If you are trying to eyeball your portion you can easily underestimate your calorie intake. Be sure to measure everything and write down the calories so you can be sure you aren't going over. I actually round up so I end up eating less calories than I'm noting in my journal. For example if an egg has 70 calories I round to 100.

5. Drink plenty of water. Use water instead of soda or sweetened tea/juice.

6. Cut back on sugar. If you usually order a flavored latte, ask the barista for 1/2 the number of pumps they usually use. If you make coffee as home and use sugar try cutting out a teaspoon or even a 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Eventually you won't need as much.

7. Incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your diet. They are high in fiber and will help you fill up on higher volume lower calorie foods.


Eat More Fruits and Veggies

8. Start moving! If you don't work out start taking walks a few days a week. If you already do this then start increasing the amount of time your exercise and/or increase the intensity.

9. Keep a journal. Write down everything and I mean EVERYTHING you eat or drink with the calorie count next to it. You can do this online with aps like LOSE IT, or you can get a journal and write it out old school. Either way just do it! You can easily forget that snack you had or latte you grabbed on the go. They add up.

It's easy to find ways to cut a few calories here and there and with the addition of exercise you'd think it would be easy to lose weight. The problem sometimes is that we overdo it some days and cut way back for a day or two and then we more than make up for it by weeks end. It's all about balance. Cutting 500 calories a day may be too much. In order to lose weight and keep it off you need to make little changes a little at a time so they become part of your life style versus a DIET. In week one for example you may start to drink more water. Keep track and write it down so you don't forget. Week two maybe start to cut out some sugar or switch to smaller plates. Little by little you'll get there and the weight will start to come off. You may slip up and that's ok too, just get back on track for the next meal. AND!! Don't say you'll start tomorrow. Start right now....go get a drink of water!

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