Nutrition isn’t the only part of the weight-loss game

Nutrition isn’t the only part of the weight-loss game

making time for fitness matters, too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults move their bodies at a moderate intensity for 150 to 300 minutes, or 2.5 to 5 hours, a week to help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. And while that’s a solid jumping off point, if you want to lose weight then you still need to move enough so that you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming, says Carrie Dorr, founder of PureBarre and the holistic wellness platform Life Smart by Carrie Dorr.

I view weight loss as a mathematical equation,” she says. “If the calories your body is burning at rest (while not exercising), plus the calories burned during exercise are more than the calories you are consuming, you lose weight.”

That’s why it can be helpful to choose workout routines that’ll help rev your metabolism, so you continue burning calories long after you finish exercising. It’s called excess post-oxygen consumption, or EPOC, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a common method that gets your body into this state of after-burn. It’s also super popular because, while intense, the workouts are often short — making them ideal for busy women on the go.

But Dorr is quick to point out that this workout style isn’t your only option. “A combination of aerobic workouts [like walking or running] and strength training are best for weight loss, as well as overall wellness,” she says.

The Bottom Line
To truly answer the question of, “how many calories should I eat to lose weight?,” you have to be aware of your total caloric needs and intake, Palinski-Wade says. To do this, it’s widely accepted to follow the Harris-Benedict equation. The first thing you need to know is your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, which you can figure out by plugging your age, height, and weight into this calculator. Then, choose your daily activity level — ranging from sedentary to extra active — and follow the suggested equation. This final number will give you the total number of calories you need in order to maintain your current weight. Once you have that, you can adjust appropriately to lose weight.

Otherwise, remember to “focus on a meal plan that’s rich in fiber, plant-based fats, and lean proteins to promote satiety,” Palinski-Wade says. “This will naturally help you to control your portions and lose weight while taking in nutrients that promote health.” You can also use to learn more about the five food groups considered to be the building blocks of a healthy diet, based on recommendations from the United States Department of Agriculture.

A good rule of thumb: fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies, one-quarter with protein, and the rest with whole grains. Round it out with a glass of milk or a cup of yogurt and you’re all set — no calorie-counting required.

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