Obesity - Calories for Weight Loss

The treatment of obesity requires at least a combination of three factors: a proper diet, regular exercise and changes in lifestyle. Eventually it becomes necessary to use diet pills.

In more severe cases, bariatric surgery may be indicated. In this text we will talk about the amount of calories recommended to lose weight.


How many calories do people need to consume per day?

The weight gain is directly related to the difference between consumption and caloric expenditure throughout the day. The individual grows fat because he/she consumes more calories than expends, the weight remains stable when a person consumes only what is needed, weight loss occurs when more calories are spent than are consumed. It's that simple, there is no other explanation for loss or gain of weight.

The optimal daily caloric amount is different for each individual. Factors such as height, age, gender, muscle mass, daily activities, etc. influence the body's basal energy expenditure. However, we can estimate (note the term estimate) the patient's basal energy expenditure throughout the day in order to make the calorie intake more appropriate for him to lose weight.

It is important to remember that even while having a rest or sleeping there is calorie intake, occurring thanks to normal metabolism of our body, called the basal energy expenditure. Keeping our hearts beating, regulating our body temperature, keeping the lungs functioning etc. - all these processes demand energy.

The total expenditure of calories throughout the day is therefore the sum of the baseline spending on the activities of everyday life. Active people spend more calories even while having a rest. An athlete consumes more calories watching TV than a sedentary person.

To lose at least one pound per week, a person must spend on average more than 500 calories than he/she consumes throughout the day.

Let's use an example to help to understand

A female, 50 years, 1.60m tall and 100 kg spends on average 1700 calories a day just with the operation of her basal body. If this patient is sedentary and her day-to-day activities are small, this spending increases to approximately 2000 calories per day.

If the patient maintains the low level of physical activity and consumes 2000 calories a day, it will keep her weight stable over time. If she consumes more than 2000 calories a day, she will continue gaining weight.

If the patient wants to lose weight at least a pound a week, she should consume no more than 1500 calories per day. An even better option is to increase her daily caloric expenditure, starting with more physical activities. For example, if this same lady does exercising 3 to 5 times per week, her daily caloric expenditure will be around 2500 calories per day. So even with a diet of 2000 calories per day, she could still lose weight. Now, if the patient restricts her calorie intake to 1500 per day and does physical exercises regularly, she can have a deficit of 1000 calories per day and she will lose up to 1 kg per week.

The ideal way to lose weight is the one combined with increased daily energy expenditure with the restriction of caloric intake. One factor that hinders the maintenance of weight lost is the fact that to lose weight, our caloric expenditure when we have a rest also decreases. For example, the described sedentary patient weighing above 100 kg spends per day roughly 2000 calories. If she does an excellent diet, after about five months she will get up to 85 kg weight, her daily calorie expenditure will drop to 1800. That is, to continue losing weight 0.5 kg per week, she still needs to eat fewer calories, about 1300. Sedentary people need to eat less to keep losing weight.

On the other hand, if the same patient spends 2000 calories per day to obtain 85 kg weight, but in addition practicing 3 times per week, her daily energy expenditure will not diminish the loss of weight, however, it will increase, getting around 2300 calories / day.

Therefore, it is much easier to lose weight by increasing your daily expenditure of calories through exercise than simply remaining sedentary, only keeping to a diet.

If you want to estimate your caloric needs, you can use the formula below. Attention, we are talking about estimates that might not work for individual cases. For an effective weight loss it is necessary to consult a professional, either a nutritionist or an endocrinologist.

The WHO (World Health Organization) suggests using the following equations to estimate your caloric expenditure throughout the day:
Male, 18-30 years = (0.0630 x weight in kg + 2.8957) x 240
Male, 31-60 years = (0.0484 x weight in kg + 3.6534) x 240
Female, 18-30 years = (0.0621 x weight in kg + 2.0357) x 240
Female, 31-60 years = (0.0342 x weight in kg + 3.5377) x 240

The result obtained above gives the daily basal energetic expenditure. If you want to estimate how much calories is expended based on activities that you carry throughout the day, you must multiply this result by 1.3 if you are sedentary, by 1.5 if you exercise occasionally, or 1.7 if you regularly practise exercises.

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User discussion

10 May 2012
After giving up sports activities, my 16-year-old daughter gained extra weight. Is there any diet which will lead to loss of excess weight but won't do much harm to a growing organism? Or should she do any exercises to lose weight?
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