Technically, calorie is the amount of energy required to increase the temperature of one kg of water by 1ºC (1). When we talk about food and nutrition, it depicts the fuel that is required for running our body properly.
These are obtained mainly from carbohydrate, fats, and protein (2).
Carbohydrate works as a fuel for the nervous system and during workouts. On the other hand, the primary activity of protein is to regulate metabolism. Whereas, fat is the reservoir of energy (3).
The number of calories a person must consume every day depends on the gender and age of the person and minutely on other factors like the weight and height. Its range for an average active adult man (19-30 years) is 2600-2800 calories per day while that for an average active adult woman (19-30 years) is 2,000-2,200 calories per day (4).
To maintain a balanced level of energy and for a stable weight, the number of calories consumed should be equal to the number of calories utilized. If a person consumes too many of them, then it may result in obesity (5).
If you are overweight, then in order to reduce the weight, you must consume a lesser amount of calories each day. But, how many calories should you eat to lose weight? Roughly, subtract 500 calories from the daily requirement to reduce 1 pound in a week (6).
However, to stay healthy, the cut-down must not be below this threshold value, otherwise, you may suffer from several diseases or disorders of the body. You might have noticed that people eventually give up the diet when they feel hungry. So, You must make some changes to compensate for this reduction in a long term. Let’s discuss them in detail.
1. Do Some Exercises
When you consume lesser calories, there is always a reduction in the amount of energy conversion. Hence, it will reduce the metabolic rate of the body. Therefore, you must perform some exercises regularly to reduce weight and to increase the rate of metabolism (8).
Some studies show that a 45-minutes workout increases the metabolic rate for 14 hours (9). Physical activities also help burn them faster and the amount varies according to the intensity of the workout. Even simple cycling or walking can burn a good amount of calories (10).
Apart from the weight loss, regular exercising will reduce the risk of many chronic diseases too (11). You can perform some of the vigorous exercises like weight-lifting, aerobics, etc. to burn more fat.
2. Drink Enough Water Every Day
It is a well-known fact that to stay healthy, one must drink 8-10 glasses of water daily. It removes the toxins and makes you look younger (12).
Drinking enough water is a proven way to aid the process of weight loss among adults (13). It also improves the physical performance, hydrates the body, and improves the brain performance, as well (14).
Several trials have also shown that incorporating and increasing plain water in our diet reduces the intake of calories in our body (15).
3. Consume More Protein
Protein is the building block of the body muscles. Our body requires at least 0.8 gm of protein per kg of body weight (18).
When you are hungry, it is often difficult to decide the right food to suppress the cravings and avoiding fat intake at the same time.
Some clinical researches have also shown that consumption of whey protein helps reduce weight and hence, makes the body fit (20).
The weight loss with consumption of the protein is also due to the fact that more calories are consumed in the digestion of protein (21).
4. Avoid Food High in Fat and Sugary Beverages
Sugar is another culprit for overweight and unhealthy body. Though there is not much of the evidence (22), it is believed that too much consumption of sugary beverage might lead to the life-threatening ovarian cancer.
Some trials reveal that if the sugar in the diet is replaced by the complex carbohydrate or low-energy sweetener, then it may help reduce the weight (23).
Consumption of beverages that have high sugar content can increase the body weight drastically (24). Instead of sugar, you can add any natural sweetener like Stevia, which is a calorie-free sweetener (25).
Soda is also harmful to our health and is another drink that has a lot of sugar. It is estimated that there are 15-18 teaspoons of sugar in 20 ounces of the soda (26).
5. Reduce Carbohydrates in Your Diet
Consumption of excessive carbohydrate is also the reason for obesity. If you consume low-carbohydrate diet, then it is beneficial in many ways.
Studies have proved that consuming lesser amount of carbs will help lose weight and decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases too (27).
Some positive results have been observed in the people who are obese and made changes in their diet. The diet consisting of 40% carbohydrates and 30% each of fat and protein has visibly reduced the weight and is found helpful in treating type-2 diabetes (28). A low-carb diet reduces the level of triglyceride, which is the main fat carrying component in our blood (29).
Food rich in dietary fiber like legumes, whole-grain cereals, vegetables, etc., are the excellent sources of dietary carbohydrate (30). They not only fulfill the carb requirement but also aid in reducing the body weight.
The type of carbohydrate is also important, apart from the amount of it (31). Therefore, you must avoid the unhealthy sources like pastries, soda, white bread, etc.
6. Eat in the Afternoon Rather than Morning
First of all, don’t confuse morning snack with breakfast. People have a tendency to eat anything in the name of snacks. It is found that a mid-morning snack contributes less towards the goal of losing weight than not having any snack. A mid-morning snack can affect the other weight loss efforts too (32). Also, the gap between breakfast and lunch is very less as compared to the one between lunch and dinner. So, it will be a good choice to skip the morning snack and have that in the afternoon instead.
7. Eat a Banana or an Apple
The smell of grilled food or baked stuff is quite appealing, but one should avoid eating them as they contain a lot of calories and contribute to weight gain. Instead of these unhealthy foods, eat a banana or an apple whenever you feel hungry. These are not only healthy but also will make your stomach full without adding lots of calories. You can eat other things like green beans, carrots, grapes, etc., as well (33).
8. Stay in Cooler Environment
There are two types of fat in our body viz., white and brown. When we are exposed to cold environment, the content of brown fat increases, which has a positive result on conditions like obesity and diabetes (34). Brown fat is useful because of the fact that it helps burn more calories than white fat and thus, reduces weight (35).
So, in order to maintain weight, you can go out to enjoy the cold breeze for some time.
Note: If you are suffering from hypothermia, which is caused due to lower temperatures (36), you must refrain from this method of losing weight.
So, calories play an important role in maintaining our weight. You must not try to reduce them drastically in one go, as it is also essential to maintain a certain minimum level of calories in the body (37). Moderately cutting them down from the diet is no doubt of immense help.
Stick to a healthy diet and follow the above procedure. It will not only eliminate the problem of obesity but will keep several maladies at bay.