In the end however, what's important is picking a strategy that works for you. Calorie counting is only one method used to achieve weight loss amongst many, and even within this method, there are many possible approaches a person can take. Finding an approach that fits within your lifestyle that you think you would be able to adhere to is likely going to provide the most sustainable option and desirable result.
There are many approaches to weight loss and there is no set ideal method that works for all people, which is why so many different diets and exercise regimens exist. While some methods are more effective for each individual person, not all weight loss methods are equivalent, and studies suggest that some approaches are healthier than others. That being said, one of the most commonly effective weight loss methods is counting calories. In its most basic form, calories consumed minus calories expended will result in weight gain if the result is positive, or weight loss if the result is negative. However, this is far from a comprehensive picture, and many other factors play a role in affecting healthy, sustainable weight loss. For example, there exist conflicting studies addressing whether or not the type of calories or foods consumed, or how they are consumed, affects weight loss. Studies have shown that foods that require a person to chew more and are more difficult to digest result in the body burning more calories, sometimes referred to as the thermic effect of food. While the increase in burned calories may be marginal, foods that are more difficult to digest such as vegetables generally tend to be healthier and provide more nutrients for fewer calories than many processed foods.
If you factored exercise into the equation when you used the calculator, then you should not eat more if you exercise. Your daily calorie goal (the calculator result) has already accounted for the additional physical activity. But if you did not factor in exercise when you used the calculator, and you added a workout session to your day, then the calories burned during exercise will increase your calorie deficit. If you don't eat back your exercise calories, the increased deficit will help you to lose weight faster. If you do eat back the same number of calories that you burned, then you will lose weight at the same rate as indicated in your calorie calculator result. Be careful, however, it's very easy to eat more calories than you burn after exercise. This causes weight gain, not weight loss.
“A lot of what we know in this area comes from NASA, of the bed-rest studies,” he says. “Within a couple of days of non-activity, the metabolism becomes inflexible. You start moving again, and it does start to change.” Your metabolism may not ever go back to “normal” (more on this below), but the evidence indicates that it can indeed pick up again, in large part through moving your body every day.
Generally, foods that take more effort to chew – fruit, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, etc. – require the body to burn more calories since more calories are required to digest them. It also results in the feeling of satiety for longer periods of time. Furthermore, certain foods like coffee, tea, chilies, cinnamon, and ginger have been found to increase the rate of calories burned due to the ingredients they contain.
Schedule "cheat meals" and gym breaks into your routine. “It’s hard to be consistently motivated and always be on your game. Give yourself a little bit of a reprieve," says Delaney. "Mentally, it’s not normal to constantly be on all the time, we need to unwind and relax. By doing something that’s not perfect, were allowing ourselves to revel in the moment and celebrate our success; it gives us a renewed energy to move on.” To do this, Delaney says to schedule one cheat meal a week, and to pick 1-2 days where you let your body rest. "Go out and have a slice of pizza and a glass of red wine. Your body needs that, not just physically, but mentally. Same with the gym. You don’t need to work out every day. Give your body that recoup time; physically and mentally it needs it. Give yourself a break so you can sustain that motivation. It’s an allowance instead of creating the ‘I messed up syndrome’ which causes you to get off track.”
You should be getting 30 minutes of moderate activity -- a bike ride or brisk walk -- on at least 5 days a week simply to stay in good health. To lose weight and keep it off, you may need more than that. Also include moves to strengthen your muscles, like pushups or light weight training. Check with your doctor about the healthiest ways for you to work out, especially if you haven’t done it in a while.