All food contains calories (energy) and a simple method of reducing body fat and losing weight is to reduce the calorie intake to less than the body requires to maintain its’ weight. Your body fat reserves are then used for producing energy (instead of food) resulting in weight loss.
Calorie counting is a common dietary method to help an individual achieve successful weight loss. However, this method requires the individual to accurately measure out the food and monitor their calorie intake. To calculating individual energy requirements current weight, weight loss goal, gender, age and activity will all be factored in. The individual will then use food tables to work out the calorie content of the foods to meet their calorie goal each day.
Food manufacturers by law have to include the calorie content of the product on the food label. This means that anyone can work out the calorie content of each meal, snack or beverage. Some restaurants may provide the calorie content of meals. Calorie counting has been made user-friendly with advances in information technology.
With the introduction of online food dietary analysis sites (like Weightplan.com) individuals can work out their daily calorie requirement to achieve weight loss. Foods and drinks consumed can be added onto the online database, so that they can calculate their calorie intake to reach their goal each day. The food databases are extensive, including many food outlets and supermarket food nutritionals. These databases can also provide calorie counted weekly diet plans to help the client select a nutritionally balanced calorie controlled diet. There are also versions for the iPhone, which allows the individual to monitor their intake over the course of the day, making data entry and analysis very accessible. The bar code system means that you can scan the food product into the database to save time.
Points based diet systems such as Weight Watchers have been very popular for years. Foods and drink are categorised by their calorie content into points. The individual will be set a daily goal of total points they are allowed to meet their daily calorie requirement for weight loss. The advantage of this method is that it is very easy to follow and you don’t have to spend lots of time working out calories of foods and beverages. You are given a simple booklet with the points system for the different groups of foods and beverages. Some companies now make pre-packaged meals that can be selected as part of the point system. The disadvantage of the point system is that without guidance individuals may not necessarily choose a nutritionally balanced diet. Individuals have been reported to save up their points for the evening, so they can have a higher calorie meal with alcoholic beverages, or for a ‘treat’ type food, or so they can eat more over the weekend.
Calorie controlled diets have been shown to be a successful method of losing weight, although without guidance they may not help teach an individual to eat a ‘balanced diet’. However, with the right dietary advice a calorie-controlled diet can be tailored to suit anyone and will work. Many however, do not address the other part of the energy balance equation of physical activity.
Studies have shown that the reason for increased levels of obesity in the UK over the past sixty-years is not due to increased daily calorie intake but due to reduced physical activity levels over this period.