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Weight Loss 101: Count Your Calories

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On Feb. 9, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Lets Move campaign that focuses on decreasing childhood obesity.

The strategy she laid out includes:

• improving nutrition and physical education in schools
• promoting activity such as walking and biking in community planning
• making healthy food more available, particularly in poor areas
• making nutrition information on food packages clearer.

These approaches make great sense, but I worry that they dance around the most basic element of achieving weight loss: counting calories.

One of the most common questions I get during the Fox online chat is,"Dr G: I need to lose weight. Any recommendations?" My response is typically, "Loyal Viewer...Losing weight is all about burning more calories than you consume. You have to have a deficit of 3600 calories to lose one pound.”

Yes, there are many techniques that I recommend that can help support a weight loss program:

• Write down everything you eat: People who keep a food diary lose twice as much weight as those who don’t

• Weigh yourself daily: Especially important for weight maintenance. People who are aware of their weight will be more conscious of addressing it when it begins creeps up instead of suddenly finding themselves 20 pounds and 2 sizes heavier

• Exercise at least 30 minutes 5 times a week. Need I explain the benefits for weight and overall health?

• Eat breakfast: Individuals who eat a high fiber, high protein breakfast are more successful at weight loss than those who don’t eat breakfast

I always circle back to the bottom line: 3600 calories = 1 pound. There is no magic bullet.

Focusing on eating healthy, nutritious foods is certainly important. But, it is also important to understand that eating too much of a good thing translates into gaining weight.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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