What Happens When You Burn More Calories Than You Eat?

Losing weight involves following a plan where you increase physical activity and exercise with the goal of burning more calories than you eat. By engaging in cardiovascular activity and eating a balanced, nutritious diet, you can shed fat, maintain lean muscle mass and increase heart health.

Burning more calories than you eat will result in weight loss. (Image: lzf/iStock/GettyImages)

Before adopting a diet or exercise program, please consult a physician.

Tip

Burning more calories than you eat will lead to weight loss.

Create a Caloric Deficit

As you burn more calories than you take in, you set up a caloric deficit, which can result in weight loss. You can reduce calorie intake by eating healthier or less food, or you can bump up energy expenditure by increasing exercise. Consistently maintaining a caloric deficit allows you to permanently shed excess pounds.

Do It Safely

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggests losing weight at the safe and realistic rate of one to two pounds per week. Since 3,500 calories equals approximately one pound of fat, losing one to two pounds each week requires you to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you take in daily. Eat smaller, more frequent meals and engage in regular exercise to create this deficit. Set process goals, like exercising regularly, and outcome goals, like losing a specific amount of weight, to change your habits and remain motivated.

Burn Calories with Exercise

Exercising regularly helps you expend calories that can't be cut through dieting. Engaging in cardiovascular activity also increases heart health, reduces blood pressure and elevates your mood.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week just to maintain your weight. Increase this number if your goal is weight loss. Build more activity into your day to increase the number of calories you burn. For example, walk instead of driving and take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Tip

Eating too few calories can also be detrimental to your health. Women need a minimum of 1,200 calories per day, while men need at least 1,500.

Consider Your Diet

Eat a nutritious diet rich with complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats to reduce the number of calories you ingest. Consume fruits, vegetables and whole grains to receive the proper amount of vitamins and minerals and power up your workouts. Take in healthy fats like nut butters and olive oil to increase heart health, and consume lean proteins like chicken breast and salmon to provide your muscles with vital amino acids.

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends that no more than 10 percent of daily calories come from added sugars, no more than 10 percent from saturated fats, and that you limit your sodium intake to a maximum of 2,300 milligrams per day.

Tip

Limit sodium, saturated fats and added sugars as part of a healthy diet.

Avoid Fad Diets

Stay away from fad diets promising rapid weight loss. Many of these diets restrict carbohydrates and other food groups, resulting in water weight loss. Once the body is rehydrated, the weight returns.

Cut out rich foods high in sugar and fat and reduce alcohol consumption to moderate your calories. Eat whole fruit rather than processed snacks and sweets.

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