How does a calorie counter work? After you input data, it uses a formula called the Mifflin St. Jeor equation to calculate your resting metabolic rate. That's the number of calories your body needs to function when it is at rest. Then, based on your personalized lifestyle information, the calculator adds the number of calories you need to fuel your body for daily activity. Finally, it either adds calories to gain weight or subtracts calories to help you lose weight.
The number of calories required by one’s body throughout the day to perform involuntary, vital tasks such as breathing, producing body heat, maintaining heart function, and sending messages to and from the brain, is called the basal metabolic rate or BMR. A person’s BMR actually represents about 60% of the body’s daily energy needs. Approximately 30% of the body’s daily energy needs is used for movement, and can include simple tasks such as walking to get the mail, folding laundry, or washing the dishes. The remaining 10% of the body’s energy requirement is used to digest food and absorb the nutrients from food. To estimate your daily calorie requirements, visit the website ChooseMyPlate.
Lifestyle fit: Think about how much time and planning goes into each weight loss program. Some people will find that meal planning and preparation takes too long to fit into their busy lifestyle, while others will have the time to commit to a more demanding plan. Figure out whether a plan is compatible with your lifestyle before committing. Some meal plans are very simple; others require more work.
An increase in fiber intake is also recommended for regulating bowel movements. Other methods of weight loss include use of drugs and supplements that decrease appetite, block fat absorption, or reduce stomach volume. Bariatric surgery may be indicated in cases of severe obesity. Two common bariatric surgical procedures are gastric bypass and gastric banding. Both can be effective at limiting the intake of food energy by reducing the size of the stomach, but as with any surgical procedure both come with their own risks that should be considered in consultation with a physician. Dietary supplements, though widely used, are not considered a healthy option for weight loss. Many are available, but very few are effective in the long term.
Eating right and watching your weight are key to a healthy future. What's missing? Exercise, of course. A regular routine, if right for you, will help you burn more calories, feel more energized and build lean muscle mass. Check with your physician before beginning and exercise routine. For tips on making exercise part of your life, check out the President's Challenge, an interactive website that helps you get fit no matter your age. www.presidentschallenge.org
Skimp on fluids, and your body will release an antidiuretic hormone that leads to water retention that could affect the scale, Dr. Setlzer says. While this sneaky effect is one reason why the scale is a poor measure of body mass loss, you can outsmart it by drinking more—particularly if you fill your glass with water or non-calorie alternatives like unsweetened coffee and tea.