What is the best way to lose weight? People often get confused about whether they should count calories or carbs to slim down. Much of confusion is the result of the calories vs. Does calorie count matter more or should you reduce sugary carbs for weight loss? And what about fat? To get the answer, it’s important to sort through the nutrition facts. To lose weight, you must create a calorie deficit. In very simple terms, it means that most of us need to eat less and move more.
Start your FREE day trial! Get delicious recipes, amazing meal plans, video courses, health guides, and weight loss advice from doctors, dietitians, and other experts. A calorie is a unit of energy your body uses to perform hundreds of tasks. These include voluntary movements like walking, running, and jumping, as well as involuntary ones like breathing, circulating blood throughout your system, and maintaining normal body temperature. Your body needs a certain number of calories just to keep those involuntary processes going. This is referred to as your basal metabolic rate, or BMR. Your BMR is influenced by many factors, including your age, gender, body composition, and genetics. Overall, the more active you are, the more calories you need. However, the calories in most foods are a combination of carbs, protein, and fat. For instance, although eggs are considered a protein food, the majority of their calories actually come from fat. For example, two large eggs provide calories. Generally speaking, if you take in more calories than your body needs, the extra calories will be stored as fat.
Before you go on a low-carb diet, you’ll need to figure out not only the number of carbs you can eat, but also the number of calories — because low-carb or not, eating fewer calories than you burn is essential for weight loss. There are lots of tools and apps that can help you determine your calorie goals, but Amanda Nighbert, a registered dietitian in Lexington, KY, who specializes in weight-loss nutrition, shared some general guidelines you can use as a starting point. The portion of calories that should come from carbs will vary from person to person, but “a typical low-carb diet will range between 20 to grams of total carbs per day,” Amanda said. She uses the lower number for her clients who are carb cycling. To keep things simple, aim to get 10 to 20 percent of your calories from carbohydrates each day. For an exact carb count, multiply your calorie goal by the percentage of calories you plan to eat from carbs each day and divide that number by four because one gram of carbs contains four calories. For example, if your goal is 1, calories per day, with 15 percent of calories coming from carbs, you’d multiply 1, by 0.