Many of us that have struggled with our body image or are in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle considered taking on the task of creating a diet by ourselves, however daunting it may seem. Although utilizing only a few of the many principles of effective dieting may not be the most effective route, it is a great way to develop a healthier lifestyle and provides stepping stones to starting a full transformation.
If you ask any average person on the street how many calories they consume on an typical day, I'm sure many would struggle providing an accurate number. Although many people may be eating the same foods on a daily or weekly basis, it is fairly unlikely that they have taken the time to actually discover their daily caloric intake.
Breaking down dieting into its most rudimentary form, it's simply a game of calories consumed vs. calories burned. Although many are under the impression that certain foods may make you gain weight more rapidly than others, it's really the matter of those foods being more dense in calories. You cannot gain additional weight without eating at a caloric surplus. (Eating more than you are burning.)
Counting calories can be as simple as logging what you eat into an app on your phone or a website on your computer. Plugging the foods I've eaten into myfitnesspal, a brand that has created both a website and app in order to track foods, has long been a staple of my day. Calories can be planned out days in advance or simply as you are eating them.
Making an effort to track your calories over the course of a week will roughly average what your maintenance calories are for your current weight. That is, unless you have been noticing recent continuous weight changes. Using this information, you can then make a conscious effort to reduce the number of calories you are eating by making small daily changes (vice versa for gaining weight). Even eating a smaller portion for one of your meals every day will provide results over time.
The Tower of Blocks Example
I commonly make the comparison of dieting to building a tower of blocks. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and grains are great examples of smaller blocks. They provide a small number of calories relative to their weight. Foods high in fats such as nuts, cheese, fatty cuts of meat, and most junk foods are examples of large blocks. They have a much higher number of calories relative to their weight.
Each day of eating can be represented by building a tower with these blocks. You can have towers similar in height by using either small or large blocks, just as you can have similar caloric intakes by eating just a few calorie dense meals or many light meals. You even have the ability to mix large and small blocks. An example being, a few light meals along with a couple heavier snacks throughout the day.
In conclusion, you will not gain excess weight unless you are consistently eating more calories, building a tower of blocks higher, than the amount of calories you are consistently burning.
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