We have all heard it many times: If we eat and drink more calories than our body needs, we will store fat and gain weight. If this is done repetitively and over a period of time, we develop excess weight and could even develop obesity. The opposite is also true: if we consume less calories than our body needs, we will burn fat and lose weight. These concepts are the basis of the simplest diet which consists of counting calories to lose weight.
Let’s dig a bit deeper on how this logic can be applied in a healthy lifestyle to help achieve weight loss goals.
How many calories should you eat with “the simplest diet”?
A calorie is a unit of energy. Nutritionally speaking, calories refer to the energy one gets from the food and drink consumed. We need energy and nutrients to stay alive and to keep all the organs functioning normally. Without energy, organs would not be able to carry out their functions; the heart would stop and the lungs would not be able to take in air; cells in the body would die. The amount of energy (i.e., calories) one needs depends on several factors: age, gender, height, weight, and daily level of activity.
Calories are essential for human health. If you are reading this article, you already know that more calories does not equate to better health. The key to maintaining weight or losing weight is to consume the right amount of calories. On average, men need between 2,000 and 3,000kcal a day and women need between 1,600 and 2,200kcal a day to maintain their weight.
If you are trying to lose weight by dieting, it may seem tempting to drastically cut down on calories but creating a large calorie deficit can cause fatigue and nutrient deficiencies; it puts your body into starvation mode where you are at increased risk of blood pressure and heart abnormalities. Studies have also shown that creating a large calorie deficit over a period of time may actually work against you – it can slow your metabolism and cause weight gain in the long term.
That being said, when trying to lose weight, it is important to create the right calorie deficit – you should consume fewer calories than you normally do while also giving your body the right amount of energy and nutrition that it needs. For most individuals, it is recommended to cut down 400 to 600 calories everyday if the goal aim is to lose 1 to 2lb a week. This deficit will not affect your physical and mental health, and you should be able to maintain this lifestyle until you lose all the weight you want to lose. The key to weight loss is sustainability – it is always better to make small changes that you can stick to for the long term than to make drastic changes.
If you want to speed up your weight loss, it is not recommended that you cut your calories by more than 400 – 600 per day, but you can add exercise to help achieve your goal faster – and to maintain a healthy body and mind. Adding a daily walk, a dance class or a visit to the gym can definitely get you closer to your goal faster. Remember that not all calories are created equal. As mentioned above, the body gets its energy and nutrition from the food and drinks consumed. You should try, as much as possible, to avoid “empty calories,” especially when trying to lose weight. Empty calories are those that lack any nutritional benefits for the body such as sugary drinks, chips, donuts and candy. Selecting nutrient-dense foods like high-fiber multigrain products, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and nuts will help you feel full and provide a more healthful diet.
Counting Calories Made Simple: What to Eat to Lose Weight
At The Silhouette Clinic we can help you create a customized plan that works your body, your lifestyle, and your particular needs.
The below provides a sample 3-day menu consisting of 1,200 calories and you can follow our page on Instagram (@thesilhouetteclinic) for recipes and meal plans.
Simplest Diet Day 1
- Breakfast: “Egg & Avocado Sandwich” – 2 boiled eggs + 2 slices whole grain bread + ½ avocado.
- Snack: 1 medium apple.
- Lunch: “Tuna Sandwich” – 2 slices whole grain bread + 3 oz. tuna canned in water + 1 Tbsp. mayo.
- Dinner: “grilled chicken platter” – 4 oz. grilled chicken breast + 1 medium baked potato + 1 cup green beans.
- Snacks: 1 cup skim milk.
Simplest Diet Day 2
- Breakfast: “Oatmeal” – 1 cup oatmeal + ½ cup blueberries + 1 Tbsp. peanut butter.
- Snack: ½ cup strawberries.
- Lunch: “Turkey & Cheese sandwich” – 2 slices whole grain bread + 2 oz. turkey + 1 slice Swiss cheese, 1 tsp. mustard.
- Dinner: “Steak Platter” – 4 oz. Beef Steak + 1 medium baked potato + 1 cup broccoli + 2 tsp. olive oil.
- Snacks: 1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt.
Simplest Diet Day 3
- Breakfast: 1 cup non-fat yogurt + 1 banana.
- Snack: 2 Tbsp peanuts.
- Lunch: “Grilled Chicken Wrap” – 3 oz. grilled chicken + bell pepper + ¼ avocado + 2 Tbsp. salsa, shredded lettuce, 1 low-carb wrap.
- Dinner: 4 ounces (100g) grilled salmon with lemon + 2 cups (160g) steamed green beans + ½ cup (150g) cooked brown rice + large green salad + 2 Tbsp. reduced calorie salad dressing.
- Snack: 4 Tbsp. hummus.