Calories (Kcals) in their simplest form are units of energy. The amount of energy in food and drink is measured in terms of calories and if we consume more energy than we use then we will gain weight as shown in the image below. If we use up the same amount that we consume than we will maintain our weight and if we use up more energy than we consume this will lead to weight loss.
So if our goal is weight loss, the aim is to be as active as possible in order to use up more energy than we take in, your body will use energy throughout the day for your metabolism, breathing and movement already but in order to use up more energy we need to be more active.
Simply put the more active you are the more energy you will use up. Certain types of activity use up more energy than others, for example vigorous activity will use up more energy than moderate activity. However if you can’t perform vigorous activity, lots of moderate activity will help you use up energy still, it’s just about taking more opportunities to be active for example marching on the spot when the kettle boils or doing some movement during tv advert breaks.
Checking labels for the calorie content of food and drink is a useful way to make sure you are consuming enough calories but not too much. If a label says values per 25g 250kcals and you eat 50g just remember that you will have consumed 500Kcals because you have had 2 portions of the 25g. This applies to drinks as well, if a drink says calories per 100ml and you consume 500ml you need to multiply the calories per 100ml by 5 to see the total calories consumed.
Beware of hidden calories as well, some drinks will have more calories than you think especially if they have toppings such as cream, marshmallows and syrups. The same goes for food, toppings on pizzas can easily add hundreds more calories.
The final part of the puzzle is physical activity and being as active as possible. Look to do some activity during tv advert breaks, dance in the kitchen whilst the kettle boils, go for walks and focus on taking part in physical activity that you enjoy so that you are more likely to make it part of your routine. Aim for Moderate activity as best you can using the RPE scale below, activity below level 4-6 is still useful to that 4-6 level as a minimum will ensure you are using up plenty of energy to ultimately ensure you are using up more energy than you are taking in for your weight loss journey.
If you find that you aren’t making the progress you want, don’t worry, stop, take note of what you are doing and make small changes and see how you progress from there. For example check if you are being active enough or if you are just balancing out your energy and therefore maintaining.
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