Weight loss tips: Just about everything you need to know to lose weight

For millions of us, losing weight is extremely difficult. Barring certain medical explanations, however, the formula for weight loss is simple -- consume fewer calories than you expend (burn more calories than you eat).

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Since 3,500 calories equals 1 pound of body fat, a person wanting to lose 1 pound per week will have to either reduce consumption by 500 calories per day (below their caloric needs) or keep consumption the same and increase physical activity enough to burn that amount. Your body will begin drawing on its fat storage for energy and weight will begin decreasing. (While genetics, diseases and drugs can contribute to obesity, behavior has a strong influence in most cases.)

How many calories should I be consuming daily?

The following chart shows how many calories you should be consuming daily to maintain your current weight. (The amount is dependent on gender, age and physical activity level.)

number of calories to consume daily

Sedentary means only the normal activity associated with daily living.

Moderately involves normal life style activity plus equivalent to walking 1-3 miles per day at 3-4 mph.

Active involves normal life style activity plus equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3-4 mph.

How many calories are in common foods?

Girl Scouts Thin Mints (2 pcs): 73
apple: 81
banana: 96
Oreo cookies: (2 pcs): 104
cornflakes (1 cup): 110
orange juice unsweetened (1 cup): 112
whole milk (1 cup): 150
soft drink (12 oz): 152
beer (12 oz): 153
baked potato (small) with butter: 157
potato chips (1 oz): 161
Taco Bell beef, supreme: 215
bagel with raisins (3") with butter (1 tsp): 217
McDonald's fruit pie: 288
fruit yogurt (1 cup): 292
Chicken McNuggets (6 pcs): 306
Ice Cream Dove Bar: 327
McDonald's vanilla milk shake (16 fl oz): 329
Arby's roast beef sandwich, reg: 400
Burger King Whopper with cheese: 800
Pizza Hut personal pan supreme (6" diam): 944

daily calories needed
pumpkin slice

How many calories are burned doing physical activities?

In 30 minutes, a male weighing 150 will use the following number of calories (persons weighing more will use more calories; persons weighing less will burn fewer):

sitting: 50
housework: 90
walking: 105
bicycling (5 mph): 105
golf: 125

lawn mowing (power): 125
swimming: 150
calisthenics: 150
square dancing: 175
roller skating: 175

bowling: 200
tennis: 210
basketball: 250
bicycling (13 mph): 330
running (10 mph): 450

The numbers above reveal only part of the benefits of exercise.
Metabolism increases as a result of exercise so calories continue to burn for up to 24 hours after exercise. In addition, exercise causes the body to break down fat and release it into the bloodstream. This acts to decrease appetite.

Medical causes of weight gain

While excess calorie consumption is the most commonly thought of cause for a person being overweight or obese, other considerations may be involved. These can include:

aging: since metabolism naturally slows as we age, it can be easy to gain weight if our diet and activity level remain unchanged.

medications: certain medications can both increase appetite and effect brain signals that regulate how our body stores fat. These include steroids and other hormone therapies, insulin therapy, and certain cancer, migraine, seizure, cardiovascular and many mental health medications. (In fact, unintended weight gain is a leading cause of medication noncompliance.)

medical conditions: Cushing's syndrom, hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrom, insulin resistance (Syndrome X) and the hormone changes that occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause can all disregulate the way our body stores fat. In addition, many conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, depression and injuries can dramatically limit a person's activity level.


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Join in our discussions:
Showing comment(s)
August 25, 2012
A lot of good information here but you may find this article from the NY Times interesting. It makes a novel argument for focusing more on diet than increasing physical activity when it comes to battling obesity: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/opinion/sunday/debunking-the-hunter-gatherer-workout.html
September 19, 2013
Thank you for mentioning the medical causes of weight gain. I think that most people think, if a person is overweight, they are just lazy or eat too much. Until someone has suffered from depression or some other health condition, they have no idea how hard it can be for many of us to control our weight. I wish more people acknowledged how much easier it is for some people to look good than it is for others.
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