Ministry of Health Singapore. All Rights Reserved.
If you think losing weight is just about giving up your favourite food and feeling hungry, think again! Knowing your daily calorie intake will help you make smarter food choices.
If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is 23 kg/m2 and above, losing 10-15% of your current body weight at a rate of no more than 1 kg a week will benefit your health tremendously.
BMI measures the relationship between your height and weight and provides an estimate of the amount of body fat. If you don’t know what your BMI is, use our BMI calculator and find out if you are at a healthy weight for your height.
But don’t start starving yourself or become an overzealous exercise fanatic because these measures are often not sustainable in the long term. Your weight loss journey should be enjoyable because weight loss is not only about shedding kilos, but keeping them off in the long term. But we must first understand the basics of weight loss.
Caloric balance is the key to managing your weight. The recommended daily calorie intake for females on average is about 1600 calories per day (kcal/day). An average man needs about 2000 kcal/day.
When you eat more calories than what your body uses or “burn off”, these extra calories will be stored as fat in your body, leading to weight gain.
If you want to lose weight, the number of calories you consume must be less than the number of calories burned through physical activity.
The amount of energy you need will differ based on factors such as your age, your size/muscles mass), and your level of physical activity. The number of daily calories an active person needs to consume will most certainly be higher than that of a person with lower activity levels.
For example, a gym instructor may need about 2,400 calories a day as his physically demanding job requires him to burn more calories than the average person.
To keep track of your caloric intake, you can download the Mobile Diet Tracker to find out the caloric content of local commonly eaten foods. It can also help to calculate your personal recommended calorie intake.
Like the saying “knowledge without action is futile”, your next step is to translate knowledge into actions! Here are two strategies to help you lose weight without feeling deprived and feeling hungry.
If your favourite foods are high in calories, you do not have to give them up just because you need to lose weight. Furthermore, studies suggest that avoiding your favourite foods altogether often make them irresistible and may cause you to give in to food cravings and perhaps overeating. What you can do is to include them but make sure you eat within your caloric allowance.
For example, you could choose to eat your favourite high-calorie food but make up for the excess calories by having lower calorie choices at the next meals. As a general guide, lower calorie dishes are soup noodles, porridge and salads with less dressing.
When trying to lose weight, it is inevitable that you will eat less than usual. However, you don’t have to feel hungry as there are proven strategies to help reduce hunger pangs.
Whole grains can help you manage your weight as they help you feel full faster and keep you feeling full longer. This is because wholegrain foods are higher in fibre, which provide bulk. In addition, they are generally digested at a lower rate; hence prolonging the feeling of “fullness”.
You can include a wide variety of wholegrain foods (e.g. wholemeal bread, brown rice and oats) in your diet. Be sure to look out for the Higher in wholegrain Healthier Choice Symbol when shopping for groceries.
Studies suggest that people who eat breakfast are less likely to suffer from hunger pangs.
Make a better breakfast by having wholegrain foods such as wholemeal bread, oats or wholegrain cereals with low-fat milk!
Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and high in nutrients and fibre. So increase your intake to provide bulk to fight the hunger pangs!
Be sure to prepare vegetables with healthier cooking methods such as blenching, steaming or stir-frying with less oil.
In addition to the above strategies, always make sure you have lean protein foods at each meal because studies suggest that protein may help increase your metabolic rate and stave off hunger longer. Hence, it may aid in weight loss.
For example, have a tub of low-fat yoghurt or low-fat milk during breakfast and a palm size of poultry without skin/lean meat/fish/beancurd during your main meals.
If counting calories before each meal seems to be too much of a hassle for you, don’t worry! You can simply choose to eat healthy meals as often as you can and engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous levels of physical activity each week to stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight.
To lose weight, eat fewer calories than what your body burns.
You can eat your favourite high calorie food as long as you eat within your caloric allowance.
Switching to wholegrain foods, eating breakfast, having more fruit and vegetable as well as including lean protein during main meals are effective strategies to fight hunger pang.
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This article was last reviewed on
Monday, September 2, 2019
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