A calorie is a unit that measures energy. Calories are usually used to measure the energy content of foods and beverages. To maintain your weight, your daily intake calories should be balanced out by the amount your burns each day. To lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than your body burns.
One of the most widely used daily calorie intake calculator (click here) is based on Mifflin-St. Jeor equation, to find out how many calories you need for weight maintenance or weight loss. As you can see, calorie intake is worked out based on your activity level. The more active you are, the more calories you will need to maintain weight, in other words, the more you can eat without putting weight on. For example, for a 35-year-old male at 180cm 80kg, to maintain his weight, he should consume 2166 calories a day when his activity level is 'little or no exercise'. When he becomes more active, ie with moderate exercise (3-5 days a week), his daily intake calorie becomes 2798. The difference of 632 calories is more than a Burger king whopper burger. This is just one of the reasons why we need to be active.
However we need to bear in mind that our metabolism is adaptive. On one hand, if you simply eat less with no change to your activity level, your metabolism slows down which makes it harder to keep your weight loss goal in the long term. On the other hand, if you exercise more, your metabolism speeds up and that will help with weight loss. Although calorie intake accounts more for weight loss compared to exercise, physical activities do contribute in the process as it helps muscle gain, increases bone intensity, also boosts mental health.
When it comes to a diet plan to keep calorie intake down, there are a few tips too:
MORE PROTEIN: Increasing your protein intake can boost metabolism, fight cravings, and significantly reduce appetite. This can lead to automatic weight loss.
LESS SUGARY DRINKS: Liquid sugar is the single most fattening aspect of the Western diet, also avoid taking them will greatly reduce risk of diabetes.
MORE WATER: Drinking it half an hour before meals can help you eat fewer calories.
LESS CARBS: Less carbs will help reduce your appetite, it will also help people with type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome.
We don't need to starve ourselves to maintain healthy weight or lose weight. We don't need to be taking note of everything we eat and add up the calories. Eating should still be enjoyable, as long as we have basic knowledge of what we eat and stay mindful.