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Calories and Sustainable Weight Loss: Understanding the Basics

At Recharge, we launched the #chargechallenge ; a 12 week challenge to lose as much body fat as possible. With just over a week left, it's been great fun. One of our own, Ryan has been giving it a go, and has had fairly good results, he is around 10 lbs down, however, some of the others are an impressive 20+ lbs down. Fair Play! We will share results shortly, keep an eye on our social media too for before and after shots.

So, if YOU are interested in losing weight, this might be a helpful article, now you've probably heard a lot about calories. You might have even heard that weight loss is all about "calories in, calories out." But what does that really mean? And how can you lose weight in a way that's sustainable and healthy?

Let's start with the basics. A calorie is simply a unit of measurement for energy. Specifically, it's the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. When we talk about calories in food, we're talking about how much potential energy that food contains.

The human body needs a certain amount of energy (in the form of calories) to function properly. This includes things like breathing, circulating blood, and digesting food. The amount of energy you need each day depends on a variety of factors, including your age, gender, height, weight, and activity level (which as gym buff, it's pretty high right?)

If you consume more calories than your body needs, the excess energy is stored in your body as fat. Over time, this can lead to weight gain. On the other hand, if you consume fewer calories than your body needs, your body will start to use stored fat for energy, leading to weight loss.

So, if weight loss is simply a matter of eating fewer calories than your body needs, why is it so hard? One reason is that not all calories are created equal. For example, a calorie from a piece of fruit will provide your body with different nutrients and fibre than a calorie from a pack of sweets. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of whole foods can help ensure that you're getting the nutrients you need while also keeping your calorie intake in check. Fast releasing sugars will only provide short term energy, followed by a crash and an unrelenting hunger and cravings.

Another reason weight loss can be challenging is that it's easy to overeat without realising it. For example, a serving of pasta might look small on your plate, but it could actually contain several hundred calories. Keeping track of what you eat (through journaling or using a food tracking app) can help you stay within your calorie goals.

Lots of people set their calorie targets, a 1lb a week loss is common, this is a 3500 calorie deficit. Now many people nail the Monday - Thursday 500 calorie deficit, it's easy right? They may even think they do a 750 calorie deficit. But then on Friday - Sunday, the wheels come off the bus. A boozy night out, a take away, the next day hungover, bad food decisions. This undoes all the hard work. So consistency is a challenge.

Finally, it's important to remember that sustainable weight loss is about more than just counting calories. It's about making lifestyle changes that you can maintain in the long term. This might include things like:

  • Finding enjoyable ways to be active (such as walking, swimming, or dancing)

  • Getting in some consistent resistance training (obviously we would say that at Recharge, but it's a great way to boost calorie burn, and more much = more calorie utilisation day to day)

  • Reducing stress through techniques like meditation or deep breathing

  • Getting enough sleep each night

  • Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources

  • Limiting processed foods and sugary drinks

By making small, sustainable changes to your lifestyle, you can achieve your weight loss goals in a way that's healthy and realistic. And remember, weight loss isn't just about looking a certain way—it's about feeling your best and taking care of your body.

Summary of our top tips

  • Hit the gym 3 x a week

  • Find a form of cardio style exercise that you enjoy and adopt it into your lifestyle e.g. hiking, swimming with the kids, going on bike rides, playing squash.

  • Don't 'diet' too hard, a 1% loss of body weight per week is the max you should be looking for.

  • Don't go too strict, this needs to be something you can maintain, don't cut out all the foods you enjoy.

  • Set goals, share with the family (their support will be useful), don't beat yourself up when you come off plan, just get back on track asap.

  • Get sleep, all of the above is easier when you're rested and motivated.

  • Oh and invest in some quality Recharge gym kit! (this is said in jest...kind of).

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