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How Many Calories Should I Eat to Lose Weight
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A visitor wrote:

Q. I was wondering what you would recommend for me as far as daily calorie intake? I am 5'2, 28 yr old female and I weigh 190lbs. I rollerblade for 30-40 min 3x a week and am a waitress at a very busy restaurant. I have done weight watchers, atkins, diet pills and am now just cutting calories, yesterday I ate around 1000. I have eliminated red meat as I have high cholesterol and am eating 6 servings of vegetables a day along with 2 servings of fruit. I'm trying to be positive and will weight loss to work this time. I would appreciate any answers you may have and I found your website extremely helpful!

A. Figure out How Many Calories You Can Eat and Still Lose Weight

To figure out your calories, first start with where you are. In other words, figure out how many calories it takes to maintain your present size and reduce from there.

You said your activity level is 30-40 mins 3X week rollerblading and you're a waitress so you're also on your feet all day. I'd start with 12 for the multiplier (it could be higher), based on that activity level. You'd calculate that as follows:

190 lbs X 12 = 2280 calories. That is your basic resting metabolic calorie needs, so if you got more exercise or movement than usual, even more calories would be needed.

To lose some weight simply subtract 500 calories (approximately) from that required to maintain your weight:

2280 (Est. basic calorie needs) minus 500 calories = 1780

I know you're thinking I'm nuts, recommending 1780 calories, but eating too little causes more trouble for dieters than eating too much. Diets recommending 1000-1200 calories for a busy adult are far too low and will lead to binge eating and other undesirable outcomes. Yes, you can lose weight at low calorie levels, but can you maintain it, and more importantly are you getting adequate nutrients? Eating too few calories sets you up for

  1. Deprivation. You're going to feel deprived, mentally and physically. 1000 calories isn't enough for your basic metabolic needs, much less to fuel yourself for your activity needs. Add more food! Just have a bit more than you're already having, so for instance, if you eat 1/2 cup of vegetables, eat a whole cup, or go ahead and have two oranges. Fruits and vegetables are low calorie.

Sure, some vegetables and fruits are high in sugar, but it's natural sugar. I seriously doubt our planet grows any killer foods - it is more likely the food industry which has processed those foods to become nothing more than a dried powder, then add back more sugars, and chemicals so it will resemble the original product, is more harmful than a simple apple or banana? LOL

  1. Feeding yourself too few calories sets you up for metabolic slow-down. This is the argument you hear whereby studies have shown that a heavier person can find it difficult to lose weight, even though eating very low calories, simply because their body's metabolism is burning at such a slow rate. As you probably already know exercise helps to speed up your metabolism but so does eating. That's why they say breakfast is so important - not only to fuel yourself but because it starts the metabolic furnace burning, and it can burn all day. Folks who never eat until after noon, don't start their furnace burning until then either.
  2. Eye appeal. I'd venture that 1000 calories on the plate isn't hugely satisfying to the eye - for me it's very important that I believe I'm being adequately taken care of so I must take enough food to feel like I'm getting enough. Does that make sense? Nothing is worse to me than a huge plate with a teensy bit of food on it. I feel like it's not enough before I've even taken the first bite.

I might have a frozen entrée for instance, and then I'll cook up about a cup or more of frozen vegetables to add to it. The extra vegis really fills me up - makes me feel satisfied, and I often have extra to throw away, and my plate is full. Far better for me mentally to have extra food to toss (I usually cook too many vegis) than to be licking the bowl, and looking around sadly knowing I'm still hungry, right?

  1. Learning to eat until satisfaction requires adequate food. If you short-change yourself in calories, you also likely won't reach satisfaction in your hunger level, or you'll find it more and more difficult to know when you are satisfied. It's critical to learn the difference between being hungry, and being ravenous. Or being satisfied or full, or over full. You can only find this out by feeding yourself enough food.

Small Changes Add up to Big Results

If you make an effort to learn to like your food without adding "extras" such as vegetables. They don't need butter or cheese sauce, they taste great as nature intended, in fact I refer to vegetables as "nature's candy." It took me awhile, but I no longer even use Molly McButter - I just eat them plain, and yes, they are good. Nature made our foods naturally sweet - those "extras" we are used to using like butter on vegetables or potatoes certainly make things taste all yummy but they also make us larger than we need to be ;-)

Just start to slowly make changes. For instance I used to put sugar on my cereal (when I was a child I'd add heaps), and I slowly put less and less, until finally I tried one time with no sugar, then another time and another. Now, except for brown sugar on oatmeal, I don't sugar my cereal at all anymore. Tiny changes make up for big results over time. Besides, check the box. If you're eating breakfast cereal, there is usually 18 grams of sugar per serving which equates to multiple teaspoonfuls. There is certainly no need to add more - do you want cereal or candy?

Why You Don't Have to Continually Reduce Calories While Losing Weight

Now, the trouble with the equation I used above, is it would seem to indicate that as you lose weight you need to have fewer and fewer calories as you weigh less, and to a certain extent that can be true, but, and this is the kicker, if you increase your muscle, even by only one single pound, you increase your basic metabolic needs - in other words, your calorie requirements increase, not decrease.

So, my recommendation is to eat a bit more clean food to bring your calories closer to 1500 at least or as high as 1700 - you may also have a "treat" day where you lax up on your eating a bit once a week, and in that case the calories will even out, but it's likely going to be easier physically and mentally if you just eat a small bit more every day.

Add some resistance training, if possible. You can simply start doing pushups twice a week, while watching TV during commercials for instance. Work up from one set of one or two, to three sets of 10, or how many you want. Use "girl" style at first if necessary, legs bent (I can't do them any other way) and as your strength builds, attempt to do them regular style with your legs straight out behind you.

You can also do many other exercises which only use your body weight for resistance but can greatly build your strength. If you have some, use small dumbbells or even cans of food can work.

If you feed yourself well, and focus on increasing your activity, even if only a teensy bit, then you will continue to lose fat, build muscle and get more shapely, all the while increasing your metabolism so you can eat more food!

Questions are welcome! Send them at any time using my Contact form or via my e-mail address below. Eat well, be happy.

Read my weight loss articles - you'll find lots of ideas and suggestions there. Learn to use EFT. Get my Daily Bites where I give examples of using EFT for these issues, and take it one day at a time, one bite at a time.

You may not need to lose weight specifically, but if you have issues with food that you'd like to resolve, learn to use EFT and NLP methods. You can learn to remove your obstacles to feeling healthy and in charge of your own life. Look here to see if a Weight Loss Coach is right for you.

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Kathryn Martyn M.NLP
Kathryn Martyn Smith, M.NLP EFT Weight Loss Coach
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