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- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Balancing Calories
- Harvard Medical School: Calorie Counting Made Easy
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Calories are the measure of the amount of energy in stored in food, reports Medline Plus, and your body uses this energy for movement, thought, growth and development. An energy-restricted diet refers to eating fewer calories than normal and can aid in weight loss and a lower risk for some chronic diseases. But it can also have some potential side effects.
A primary purpose of an energy-restricted diet is weight loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when you eat fewer calories than your body needs, it gets its energy needs from stored fat 1. This can result in weight loss. On the other hand, when you eat more calories than your body needs, it stores the energy excess fat and you gain weight. An energy-restricted diet is an important component for weight loss.
Eating an energy-restricted diet can help you reach and maintain your healthy weight and also provide you with additional benefits. Phil Graves, professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, reports that a calorie-restricted diet can help you lower your risk for some diseases and help you live healthier for longer 2. Weight loss can lower your risk for developing some types of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
While eating an energy-restricted diet can contribute to better health, restricting your energy intake too much can cause negative health consequences. Eating too few calories can lead to nutrient deficiencies, a decrease in your metabolic rate and rebound weight gain after you return to your previous eating habits. The Harvard Medical School suggests that men should not eat less than 1,500 calories each day and women should not eat less than 1,200 calories per day unless under direct medical supervision 4.
Multiplying your current weight by 15 is one way to estimate how many calories your body needs if you are moderately active. Reducing your calorie intake by 500 to 1,000 calories each day is a good place to start for your energy-restricted diet, according to the Harvard School of Public Health 4. This amount of calorie restriction can help you lose approximately 1 to 2 lbs. per week, the recommended rate for safe weight loss.
To more accurately determine how many calories you should eat as part of your energy-restricted diet, consulting with a registered dietitian may be beneficial. A registered dietitian can help you develop an eating plan that meets your specific goals and requirements. Also, if you have a condition that requires a special diet, follow your doctor’s instructions to make sure your condition is worsened by making changes to the amount or types of food you eat.
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