Weight Loss and Control (cont.)
Weight gain is caused by consuming more calories than the body uses.
- The average person uses as many as 2,500 calories daily, or 17,500 calories per week.
- If you eat the amount your body needs, you will maintain your weight. It takes 3,500 extra calories to gain 1 pound.
- To lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than your body uses. You must eat 3,500 calories less than you need, say 500 calories per day for one week, to lose 1 pound.
Calories count. It's important to understand where calories come from and how to make the smartest food selections. Here are some basics:
- Foods are composed of the following three substances, in varying amounts:
- Carbohydrates (four Calories per gram): Examples include grains, cereal, pasta, sugar, fruits, and vegetables.
- Protein (four Calories per gram): Examples include legumes (beans, dried peas, lentils), seafood, low-fat dairy, lean meats, and soy products such as tofu.
- Fats (nine Calories per gram): Examples include whole-fat dairy products, butter, oils, and nuts.
Alcohol is a separate fourth group (seven calories per gram).
A calorie is the amount of energy (heat) needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius. A kilocalorie (or Calorie with a capital C) is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius.
- The energy contained in food is measured in kilocalories but is commonly referred to on food packages and elsewhere as calories.
- Most people underestimate the number of calories they consume by about 30%.
- Calculate the number of calories you should consume each day to keep your weight the same.
- If you are moderately active, multiply your weight in pounds by 15.
- If you are sedentary, multiply by 13 instead.
- To lose weight, you need to eat less than this number.
Excess calories from any source (even fat-free foods) will turn into body fat.
- Any carbohydrate not immediately used for energy will be stored in the liver as glycogen for short-term use. The body has only a limited number of liver cells to store the glycogen. Whatever is left over will be converted to fat.
- Excess protein and fat in the diet are also stored as fat.
Fat cells are no longer thought to be responsible only for energy storage and release.
- They synthesize the hormone leptin, which travels to the hypothalamus in the brain and regulates appetite, body weight, and the storage of fat.
- Leptin was first discovered in 1994. The exact way it works is not yet fully understood.
- Disorders of leptin account for only a few cases of obesity, usually morbid (extreme) obesity.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/23/2016
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