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When talking about diet it is important to focus on the concept of general health. Dieting for weight loss is a common approach for many people, however it may not necessarily mean that the person is practicing good health care. Severe dietary restriction can lead to malnourishment and impaired immunity as well as organ damage.
For this reason we would like to refer to eating for health rather than dieting for weight loss alone.
A calorie is technically the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius. What many people refer to as calories in food is actually a kilocalories or Kcal. Modern terminology refers to the kilojoule. 1 Kcal = 4.18 Kjoules.
The average adult male requires 2500 Kcal per day. The average female requires 2000 Kcal day.
To reduce your body weight by 1kg of fat you need to have metabolised 7800 kcal or 32 600Kj from body fat.
This cannot be consistently achieved by reducing the amount or type of food we eat. Some body weight loss will occur however it will also mean loss of muscle tissue and slowing other body growth and repair mechanisms. After a period of time the metabolism slows, so that rate of weight loss also reduces.
In our modern lives work and leisure have generally become much less active. Therefore we have to do something in order to offset this change in habits. Eating habits are an important part of life to pay attention to.
We should eat less high calorie foods such as refined starch and sugars, saturated fats, and processed products, and increase our energy output. Take part in sustained activity for at least 30 - 60 minutes three to five times per week. Ideally a combination of both should be done.
What to Do?
The first step is to construct a food diary and honestly record your daily calorie consumption. Measure or record the weight or volume of the food you eat and the energy it contains. Use the labelling advice on the packaging if it is provided. A useful tool is software from kelpie soft called food file. It is free download that allows you to calculate the energy potential of a wide variety of foods.
Once you know where you are, try to reduce your calories to the recommended levels of 2000 for women and 2500 for men. Eat more fresh vegetables, as these are high in nutrients and much lower in calories. Be careful to check that caloric intake is appropriate for your age and activity levels. The more active you are the more basic calories you will require.
To reduce body fat, increase your activity level so that you do the equivalent of a 30 minute jog daily using around 300 calories. That would mean a 1 hour walk, 30 minute swim or 40 minutes cycling at 14 mph. Use the calorie king exercise calculator to help work out your exercise requirements.