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Healthy Weight – it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle!

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Balancing Calories

photo of woman balancing a book on her head

There’s a lot of talk about the different components of food. Whether you’re consuming carbohydrates, fats, or proteins all of them contain calories. If your diet focus is on any one of these alone, you’re missing the bigger picture.

The Caloric Balance Equation

When it comes to maintaining a healthy weight for a lifetime, the bottom line is – calories count! Weight management is all about balance—balancing the number of calories you consume with the number of calories your body uses or “burns off.”

  • A calorie is defined as a unit of energy supplied by food. A calorie is a calorie regardless of its source. Whether you’re eating carbohydrates, fats, sugars, or proteins, all of them contain calories.
  • Caloric balance is like a scale. To remain in balance and maintain your body weight, the calories consumed (from foods) must be balanced by the calories used (in normal body functions, daily activities, and exercise).

Am I in Caloric Balance?

photo of a man doing tai chi

If you are maintaining your current body weight, you are in caloric balance. If you need to gain weight or to lose weight, you’ll need to tip the balance scale in one direction or another to achieve your goal.

If you need to tip the balance scale in the direction of losing weight, keep in mind that it takes approximately 3,500 calories below your calorie needs to lose a pound of body fat.1 To lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week, you’ll need to reduce your caloric intake by 500—1000 calories per day.2

To learn how many calories you are currently eating, begin writing down the foods you eat and the beverages you drink each day. By writing down what you eat and drink, you become more aware of everything you are putting in your mouth. Also, begin writing down the physical activity you do each day and the length of time you do it. Here are simple paper and pencil tools to assist you:

Want to try an interactive approach evaluate your food intake and physical activity? Go to the SuperTrackerExternal Web Site Icon. The site will give you a detailed assessment and analysis of your current eating and physical activity habits.

Physical activities (both daily activities and exercise) help tip the balance scale by increasing the calories you expend each day.
Recommended Physical Activity Levels

  • 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
  • Increasing the intensity or the amount of time that you are physically active can have even greater health benefits and may be needed to control body weight.
  • Encourage children and teenagers to be physically active for at least 60 minutes each day, or almost every day.
  • For more detail, see How much physical activity do you need?

The bottom line is… each person’s body is unique and may have different caloric needs. A healthy lifestyle requires balance, in the foods you eat, in the beverages you consume, in the way you carry out your daily activities, and in the amount of physical activity or exercise you include in your daily routine. While counting calories is not necessary, it may help you in the beginning to gain an awareness of your eating habits as you strive to achieve energy balance. The ultimate test of balance is whether or not you are gaining, maintaining, or losing weight.

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