To lose, gain or maintain weight, you will need to tip the balance scale in your favor. Since the number of calories you eat on a daily basis determines your weight, tracking calories is key to weight management. The math is simple -- you will gain weight If you eat more calories than you burn through physical activity and exercise, lose weight if you eat fewer calories than you burn and maintain weight If the number of calories you eat are equal to the calories you burn.
Net calories represent your daily calorie budget. They are the amount of energy that your body needs for all of its physiological processes and basic physical activities, like walking, doing chores and going to work. Net calories exclude the calories you burn during exercise.
You can calculate net calories by subtracting the calories you burn through exercise from the calories you consume through food and beverages in a single day. For example, if you consume 2,000 calories from food and beverages and burn 500 calories from exercise in a single day, your net caloric intake for the day is 1,500 calories. The easiest way to determine your daily net calorie goal is to use an online calorie calculator.
Setting and tracking a net-calorie objective can help you to achieve your weight-management goals, whether you want to lose, gain or maintain your weight. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you increase your net-calorie goal by 300 to 500 calories per day to gain weight or enlarge muscle mass or decrease your net-calorie goal by 300 to 500 calories per day to lose weight.
Tracking calories is a common technique used in weight management. Weight management is a complex process that involves making healthier food choices, increasing your physical activity and exercise levels and overcoming personal behavioral barriers. Always consult with your physician before starting a new diet-and-exercise program, and seek advice from health care professionals to determine what management strategies are best for you.
Beth Conlon is a registered dietitian with work published in several peer-reviewed journals. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Saint Joseph's University and a Master of Science in nutrition from Marywood University. Conlon is currently pursuing a doctorate in biomedical sciences at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.