What are Calories? Why Should I Care?
Calories are a basic measure of the energy contained in foods. If you know how many calories are in what you eat then you can formulate a plan to balance the energy you put into your body to the energy you use up through the day.
If you ever wish to lose weight fast, you must first know what a calorie is and what it does for your body. Using the guidelines above it is easy to see how the formula of 3500 calories = 1 pound of body fat can be broken into 500 calories subtracted from your body's daily needs each day can lead to successful weight loss for anyone who tries. Hope is not lost dieters!
1500 Calorie Diet: What to Expect?
Many will default to a 1500 calorie diet to either maintain a current healthy weight, or lose weight from where they are. This diet will create a higher weight loss than others depending on their daily maintenance.
For instance, a 250lb female that is 5'9 and is not active would lose 1.5lbs per week because a 1500 calorie diet would give her a 750 calorie deficit before exercise.
As weight goes down, the deficit becomes smaller and weight loss is not as rapid without adjusting the calories input vs. output.
What Does a 1500 Calorie Diet Look Like?
Following a 1500 calorie diet can be easy and quite delicious when you follow a meal plan like the sample below!
Here is a sample diet at just 1500 calories.
It is quite possible depending on what your body needs to lose up to 2lbs of pure body fat in the first week alone; not even counting the water weight you may shed by eating healthier!
350 Calorie Breakfast
Prep Time: 5mins
- 1 pouch Carnation Instant Breakfast
- 1 cup nonfat milk
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix for 1 - 2 minutes and enjoy!
Lose Weight: Eat Breakfast
"People skip breakfast thinking they're cutting calories, but by mid-morning and lunch, that person is starved," says Milton Stokes, RD, MPH, chief dietitian for St. Barnabas Hospital in New York City.
There is numerous research to show that individuals who have lost a substantial amount of weight do eat breakfast daily.
It is also proven that women who tend to eat breakfast consume less calories throughout the day. I even find that I tend to want to "binge eat" if I go an extended period without eating food after I wake in the mornings.
People who find themselves eating through the night with no understanding might need to look at their morning eating (or not eating) habits as the source of the problem.
150 Calorie Morning Snack
Apple and Peanut Butter
Prep Time: 5mins
- 1 medium apple
- 2 teaspoons natural peanut butter
Slice up a medium apple of your taste (gala apples, red delicious apples, granny smith, golden delicious... whatever you want!) and dip it in peanut butter (or spread across the apple slice evenly) for a yummy treat.
400 Calorie Lunch
Curry Chicken Pita (323 Cals)
Prep Time: 15mins
- 6 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 2 cups cooked, cubed chicken breast
- 1 pear, diced
- 1 stalk celery, finely diced
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
- 4 4- to 5-inch whole-wheat pita cut in half
- 2 cups sprouts
For full directions and tips check out Curried Chicken Pitas.
(Add Kiwi Fruit on Side to be 369 Calories)
Low Calorie Cooking
More Early Eating?
Studies have shown that breakfast isn't the only early meal that can bring on the weight loss. There have been studies in Spain that have shown over a 20 week study that there was significantly more weight loss in overweight participants that ate lunch before 3pm, than those who ate 3pm or later.
"Eating late at night can raise body temperature as well as blood glucose and insulin levels, which disrupts the fat-burning that generally occurs during sleep," says Alexandra Sifferlin at TIME. "Timing meals, especially the heaviest meals, can make a difference in whether calories are processed into extra pounds or burned away."
150 Calorie Evening Snack
Prep Time: 45mins
- 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened, sifted cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup liquid egg whites, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
Strawberries, raspberries, orange slices or sliced bananas for garnish
For full directions see the 150-Calorie Chocolate Mousse Recipe at SparkPeople!
Want to Lose Weight Fast? Snack Away!
Before you snub your nose at grabbing a snack when your stomach starts growling, take a read at this. People think that by not snacking through the day and only eating basic meals they are doing their body a service, but they are very wrong if weight loss in their ultimate goal.
Snacks help the body manage hunger and reduce binge eating. Snacking also helps keep your metabolism going between larger meals, this is why many dieticians recommend eating 5 smaller meals per day for some.
Now just because you have been given the green light to snack doesn't mean you should go buy a bag of salty potato chips, or eat an entire box of wheat thins.
Use moderation and incorporate snacks that are full of nutrients that satisfy your hunger, and keep your body with ample energy to get you through the day.
What Foods to Snack On?
Choose snacks from these food groups:
- Whole grains. Rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates, snacks like whole grain crackers, breads and other munchies really supply the body with an excellent source of energy... but don't be fooled by cereal bars that claim to have all these things and more - they have more, but not what you're looking for to lose weight.
- Fruits and vegetables. Carrots, Apples, Kiwi, Grapes, Cucumber, Mango, Strawberries, Avocado, Cauliflower, Celery, Peaches, Oranges, Cantaloupe and Watermelon are perfect snacks! Fruits and vegetables also provide vitamins, fiber and other nutrients; not to mention that they are full of water.
- Nuts. Nuts are full of protein and the healthy kind of fat. Nuts are high in calories, so don't eat them in large amounts.
- Low-fat dairy products. Yogurts, and cheeses are great for this category to get a good source of calcium in the body which is great for the bones. Dairy products are known for being full of minerals, vitamins, and protein as well. Tip: Be wary of yogurts that have additional sugar added. Stick with Light Yogurt, or Low-Cal varieties.
Healthy Low Calorie Recipes
450 Calorie Dinner
Beef and Broccoli
Prep Time: Varies
- 1 lb round steak, sliced in thin strips
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 can beef broth
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 4 cups broccoli florets
- 4 cups cooked rice
TAM101 has a great Beef Broccoli recipe, and you can read about how to prepare it with the ingredients above over at SparkPeople.
Calorie Counting = Success
You can learn portion control, and a healthy lifestyle through calorie counting. Eating healthy does not have to be a bad thing!
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Rosa Ann Crowder on January 22, 2018:
Reba Gould from Longview City, Texas on March 31, 2014:
Wow.. this hub was great!!! I and my whole family are vegetarians. We enjoyed eating salads, those that are not cooked.. these recipes are an additional to be delighted.. Thanks
Stephanie (author) from Canada on February 26, 2013:
Hi tmouse! I'm glad you enjoyed this hub, and I could not agree more! Calorie counting is the end all be all to losing weight with the math to back it up. It just comes down to using moderation and not OVER burning - this is when it becomes a bad thing I think. Thank you for stopping by!
tmouse1 on February 26, 2013:
I love this hub!! Great recipes with pictures - the pictures make you want to try them!
Counting calories to lose weight has gotten such a bad rap, and it's a shame because you cannot lose weight if you eat more calories than you burn - there is no way around it! Once you do begin counting, it quickly becomes apparent that processed and/or sugary foods have to go. If you cut out those two groups you are well on your way to losing weight.