There are a wide variety of fad diets and downright diet scams out there promising unrealistic results that seem too good to be true. While it may be tempting to believe that drinking only apple juice for a week can help you lose 10 pounds in seven days, this is just not possible. There is an essential component to a truly successful weight loss program that most fad diets lack: the importance of finding the balance between calories burned and calories consumed. The Diet Channel reports that the average body needs 2,000 calories per day to get by, but whether you can consume 2,000 calories per day and still lose weight is another story.
Calculating Your Basal Metabolic Rate
It is important to understand that the average body needs 2,000 calories per day to get by; this does not necessarily mean that your body needs exactly 2,000 calories. You may need more or less and this can depend on a variety of factors. The first step in figuring out how many calories your body requires is to find your basal metabolic rate, or BMR.
Find your BMR by following the Harris-Benedict formula. There are different formulas for men and women. If you are a man, calculate your BMR using this formula: 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years).
If you are a woman, calculate your BMR using this formula: 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years).
Applying Your BMR
Your BMR is used to calculate the number of calories your body needs to sustain you. People who are more active require more calories daily than those who lead more laidback lifestyles. If you get very little to no exercise, multiply your BMR by 1.2 to get your daily caloric requirement.
If you exercise once or twice per week or have a job that requires you to exercise a bit, calculate your BMR by 1.375 to get your daily caloric requirement. If you get a few workout sessions in per week or have a job or lifestyle that requires a lot of physical activity, multiply your BMR by 1.725.
The most active people who exercise often or have jobs that are extremely physically demanding should multiply their BMR by 1.9 to arrive at their required caloric intake.
Consuming vs. Burning Calories
While a great deal of losing weight is about watching the number of calories you consume, part of it is burning calories, as well. You can't always strictly regulate the number of calories that you consume in a day. Unexpected dinner dates, strange cravings and other factors can affect the number of calories you consume, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing.
You can still consume quite a few calories, even too many calories, and still lose weight as long as you are able to create a deficit through exercise. MayoClinic.com equates 3,500 calories to one pound of body fat. Over time, every 3,500 calories you burn can equal one pound of body fat lost. Exercise burns calories, and the more calories you eat, the more calories you need to burn to create that deficit.
Creating a Calorie Deficit Creatively
Find creative ways to get in the exercise you need to burn calories. Do some research and explore different ways to exercise, so you can have fun while working toward your goal. The more fun exercise is, the more likely you are to do it. The more you exercise, the more calories you burn. The more calories you burn, the more calories you are free to consume while sticking to your weight loss goals.
The Diet Channel suggests small efforts toward burning off excess calories, like riding your bike to work, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking your dog instead of letting him go in the backyard. Small things do count, and they can add up toward burning off excess calories.
Don't Cut Out Too Many Calories
While cutting and burning calories is an important part of weight loss, there are some dangers in cutting too many calories out of your diet. Calories are a measure of energy; the more calories you have in your body, the more energy you have to burn. MSN Health warns that any diet in which less than 800 calories a day are consumed can be a problem, as it puts your body into "starvation mode."
This is the reason that so many dieters hit a plateau while dieting; if your body thinks you are starving, it won't burn fat. To the contrary, a body that thinks it is starving will conserve calories and energy, making it difficult for you to lose weight. Instead of cutting your caloric intake dangerously low, eat the right kinds of foods and do plenty of exercise to create the deficit you need to lose weight.