Weight and Your Heart: Understanding the Secret of Calories

You can lose weight with any diet as long as you burn more calories than you take in

This New Year’s, losing weight will undoubtedly top many Americans’ list of resolutions – and it’s an important one. One reason? Heart disease is the main health threat caused by obesity. Make your efforts to slim down more successful this year by becoming wise to the “secret of calories!”

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What is this secret? It’s actually quite simple. Just follow these 5 rules:

1. Understand the basic principal of dieting for weight loss. With all of the opposing diet plans forbidding carbohydrates or preaching against fat, it’s easy to see why confusion prevails. But, Cleveland Clinic experts say, recent studies comparing these different diets have found that the proportion of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in your diet do not influence weight loss. 

This means, in a nutshell, you can lose weight with any diet as long as you burn more calories than you take in. That’s the secret.

2. Know how many calories you need. Would you believe that of the half of Americans who are dieting at any given time, only 12 percent know how many calories they should consume daily? This number, which for adults ranges from 1,600 to 3,000 a day, depends on your age, gender and activity level.

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Gender Age No exercise Activity equivalent to walking 1.5-3 miles/day Activity equivalent to walking 3 + miles/day
Female 19-30 2,000 2,000-2,200 2,400
31-50 1,800 2,000 2,200
51 + 1,600 1,800 2,000-2,200
Male 19-30 2,400 2,600-2,800 3,000
31-50 2,200 2,400-2,600 2,800-3,000
51+ 2,000 2,200-2,400 2,400-2,800

3. Change your calorie intake to lose weight. If you want to lose weight, eat fewer calories than you burn. Eat 500 to 1,000 fewer calories per day and you will lose weight, often one to two pounds per week. But don’t be discouraged when weight loss begins to slow after a few weeks of dieting – this is a normal event as your body adjusts to your new diet. Keep watching calories and exercising and you will keep heading toward your weight loss goal!

4. Don’t be fooled by fad diets. More isn’t always better. In fact, it can be harmful. Any loss of more than two pounds a week is usually just water weight. Studies also show that the faster weight comes off, the quicker it is regained. Stick to a diet that has a goal of only one to two pounds weight loss a week.

5. Choose a diet you can live with. For your weight loss and weight maintenance efforts to succeed, you must continually manage your calories. No one diet is better than another. Studies show dieters tend to lose five to 10 pounds over the course of a year, regardless which diet they pick. What’s important is to pick a diet that works for you and that you can stick with. And if you’re not successful, pick a different diet next time.

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Marc Gillinov, MD, heart surgeon and Steven Nissen, MD, cardiologist and chair of Cardiovascular Medicine are authors of the new book Heart 411.

 

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