The Skinny on Calories

Patient Expert
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The simple approach to weight loss is the premise that if you burn more calories per day than you consume you will lose weight. This is true enough although not absolute. There is more to calories than a number consumed in column one and a number burned in column two.

Calories are a measurement tool used to ascertain the energy in food and beverages from the carbohydrates, fat, and protein that they contain. Calories fuel us and are even needed to sleep.

If you are in the business of trying to take off some pounds, you might want to start counting and recording the calories you consume. The simple discipline of calculating and recording your caloric intake allows you to monitor you daily consumption and helps to determine the best choices for what foods and beverages you eat and drink across the day.

To begin, speak with a professional and get input on what you need to do to safely lose weight. Once a framework is established, decisions can be made about establishing a daily food plan to maintain the boundaries of a pre-established level of daily caloric intake. The website ChooseMyPlate.gov is an excellent resource for helping with choices about what foods are best for you and how much of these you need to consume daily for satisfactory results. In addition, the website also has a table that lists a number of foods and sample portions for counting calories in mixed dishes. It is all pretty forward stuff and easy to understand.

Empty Calories

Empty calories are calories from foods and beverages that contain solid fats, added sugars, or both. Solid fats and added sugars pump up caloric intake but provide little or no nutrients.

Solid fats are those fats that will be solid when at room temperature and include butter, beef fat, and shortening. These fats can be added when foods are processed. Added sugars and syrups are added to foods and beverages when they are processed. Solid fats and added sugars run the calories counts in foods and drinks upwards and often toward the roof.

Foods and beverages that provide Americans with the greatest number of empty calories are cakes, cookies, pastries, donuts, soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, many fruit drinks, cheese, pizza, ice cream, sausages, hot dogs and bacon. If you note that many of these foods are regular to your diet, a large part of a problem may have been discovered.

There are alternatives to some of these favorites like turkey bacon and turkey hot dogs, but most of the above should be cut from from your diet altogether. Most candies and soda should be eliminated right now whereas 100 percent of the calories they contain are empty calories.

Making changes like substituting whole milk with 2 percent or 1 percent milk will help reduce the intake of empty calories. Substituting whole milk with skim milk would be best because skim milk contains no empty calories whatsoever. Once again, the ChooseMyPlate.gov website has a chart of foods with a listing of both the total calories and empty calories in each one.

See morSLIDESHOW:  Six ways to unknowingly sabotage your dietSLIDESHOW: How Did We Get So Big: Five aspects of the obesity crisis in America** SLIDESHOW:  **6 Things You Think You Know About Weight Loss (But Don't) _

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