Losing, gaining or maintaining your weight depends on how many calories you take in and use up during the day. It’s a simple equation called Energy Balance:

  • If you eat more than your body needs, you store the extra calories as fat.
  • If you don’t take in enough calories to meet your body’s energy needs, your body will use the stored fat.

People who want to lose weight often focus on counting the number of calories they take in, but overlook the calories they expend. The best route to lasting and healthy weight loss is combining dietary changes (lowering the calories consumed) with exercise (boosting your caloric output).

The calorie tally

A calorie represents energy. Each pound of fat your body stores represents 3,500 calories of unused energy. To lose one pound, you have to create a deficit of 3,500 calories by taking in 3,500 less calories over a period of time than you need, or doing 3,500 calories worth of exercise.

Adding 15 minutes of moderate exercise to your daily schedule will use up 100 extra calories per day. Maintaining this schedule would result in 700 extra calories burned per week, or a loss of about 10 pounds in one year, assuming your food intake stays the same.

To look at energy balance another way, just one extra slice of bread a day – or any other food that contains approximately 100 calories – can add up to 10 extra pounds in a year if you don’t increase your physical activity!

Posted in: Nutrition FAQ's