Calories are an essential component of a man's diet. You need them for energy, since they are the "fuel" your body burns through physical activity. However, maintaining a proper caloric balance for your target weight is essential to overall health. Losing weight involves taking in fewer calories per day than you use. Calculating your calories will help you adjust your diet and physical activity to match your weight-loss goals.
More than simply abstract numbers listed on food labels, calories are essential. Calories are individual units of energy supplied by food. Your body uses calories as needed -- more heavily if you have an active lifestyle, and less so if you are sedentary, or don't get enough exercise.
Caloric Needs for Men
The minimum number of calories needed for men to stay healthy is 1,500 calories per day. Your maximum caloric need for each day is determined by an equation based on your height-to-weight ratio, as well as your level of physical activity. Online calculators are available at websites like HealthFinder.gov.
Caloric balance is the state in which your body burns as many calories as you take in through food in a day. In a state of caloric balance, you will maintain the same weight. If you are overweight, you will need to reduce the amount of calories you take in daily, as well as get the calories you do consume from healthy food choices. For instance, complex carbohydrate food sources such as whole grains, raw vegetables and beans provide healthier sources of calories than sugary beverages or candy bars -- so replacing unhealthy meals and snacks with more nutritious sources is one key way to start losing weight.
Burning Calories for Weight Loss
If you are a man in good health, you can reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories per day every day of the week. Since 1 lb. of fat contains 3,500 calories, incorporating this caloric deficit will yield a loss of 1 lb. a week. An important step in calculating how many calories you need to trim from your diet is to get your body mass index (BMI). Online calculators are available at websites like the Baylor College of Medicine. If you find yourself in the overweight or obese category and consume far more calories than your body needs, you may want to consider a daily caloric deficit of 1,000 calories, which can yield 2 lbs. of weight loss per week.
Exercise and Calorie Calculation
Remember that physical activity is crucial to burning calories and losing weight. If you don't get at least 30 to 50 minutes of sustained physical activity at least four to five times a week, discuss an exercise program suited for you with your doctor or dietitian. Activities, such as jogging, cycling, swimming or even brisk walking, can be immensely beneficial for creating a weight-loss promoting caloric deficit -- and they are all vital to your cardiovascular health. Calculate your calories to create a plan that incorporates both diet and exercise, and you may be surprised at how quickly your body burns unwanted fat weight.