By: Emily Johnson, Dietetic Intern
Studies have shown that people lose up to twice the amount of weight if they track their daily calories. In the United States, 9% of the population estimate how many calories they need daily, and also track their calories on a daily basis. These results come from a national representative online survey of 1,000 people conducted for the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation. So what about the other 91% of the population?
The people who do not track their calories have plenty of excuses. They claim that it’s difficult, they lack interest, knowledge, focus and are not convinced it is necessary. A registered dietitian who works with the foundation stated that, “We want consumers to move from calorie confusion to calorie confidence; calories are an important tool for weight management.” The foundation is an education group who is supported by the food beverage and agricultural industries.
An interesting concept is to look at calorie consumption similar to a budget. Similar to considering the cost of an item before buying, one should consider the calories in food before eating it. Know how many calories your body needs to maintain, lose, or gain weight. “Knowing your number gives you perspective.” The number of calories a person needs to maintain his/her weight is dependent on several things. Factors that may affect a person’s caloric intake are age, height, weight, gender and physical activity level. For small sedentary women, calorie consumption could be as low as 1,400-1600 a day, whereas sedentary men could be 2,000-2,200 calories a day. A person who is physically active may have more lean muscle mass. The person with a higher percentage of lean body weight will require more calories. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight and vice versa for weight gain. It takes a total of a 3,500 calories lost to lose a pound of fat. The calories to burn this fat can be cut through eating fewer calories or increasing physical activity.
References: Hellmich, Nancy. “Study: Few Americans Accurately Monitor Calories.” USA Today. 5 May 2011. In-print.