Calories Count

No matter what anyone says, calories count. Every now and again you see someone get lots of attention by saying they don’t but the truth remains. Calories count.

The Truth About Calories

There are certain facts about weight and calories that cannot be ignored. There are so many theories about weight, diet, healthy food choices, and the like that are proclaimed as factual it is easy to conclude there are no clear facts. But there are indeed some clear facts, especially about how calories affect weight, and it is good to know them.

There are a few, but only a very few, people with some kind of health condition (Prader-Willi Syndrome, for example) that affects their calorie to weight condition. I have worked with someone having such a problem and it is serious, but it is not common.

As for the rest of us, most all of us, the fact is that if we are overweight it is because we consume too many calories on an ongoing basis. Like everyone else, I wish there were a way to eat all the high calorie foods I like, (love that pizza!) without gaining weight, but we all know it is not possible. There is no magic weight control pill!


There are variables like salt or extra protein which we will discuss another time, I am sure, that may have a short term effect. There are other factors that indeed have some long term affect, but these are minor factors and do not have the magic effect some proclaim. In the end our weight will reflect our calorie consumption.

How Many Calories Can We Eat?

Depending on our activity level (and not many of us are football players) our bodies use between twelve and fifteen calories a day for each pound we weigh. It is as simple as that.

Accepting the sad truth that for myself and probably most of my readers the activity level is on the low end I will go with the twelve calorie count. That means if we eat food containing 1200 calories a day we will eventually weigh 100 pounds. It also means that if we consume 2400 calories a day we will eventually weigh 200 pounds.

Ideally, according to most health authorities at almost six foot in height I should weight only about 175 pounds. That means that I can consume an average of 2100 calories a day. A five foot three woman who wants to weigh her ideal 125 pounds needs to hold it down to 1500 calories.

Typical food options for most Americans make staying within these numbers challenging to say the least. But it can be done and must be done to control weight.

How Do Calories Affect Weight Loss?

If we want, or need (as in my case), to lose some weight, the numbers are equally clear. Again, they are not easy numbers to look at in some ways, but the fact that they are known is better than the challenge might be if we faced getting in control of our weight without the facts.

dumbells with calories - pound

If you are unaware of this fact, and for whatever reason it seems that it is not as well known as it should be, it takes 3500 calories to gain or lose a pound. What this means is that if you overeat 500 calories a day you will gain a pound in a week. Likewise, if you consume 500 calories a day less than what it takes to maintain your current weight you should lose a pound in a week.

This also explains why it is so much easier to lose weight when you are vastly overweight but find it much more difficult as you get nearer your ideal weight. If you weigh 250 pounds it takes 3000 calories a day to maintain that weight. If you eat 2000 calories a day you should lose two pounds a week.

But at 180 pounds it only takes 2160 calories to maintain your weight and if you eat that same 2000 calories a day it would take about forty-four weeks to lose another two pounds! To lose two pounds in a week at this point would require getting down to 1160 calories a day.

What This Calorie Counting Data Means

In this article I am not discussing what I do or suggesting what anyone else should do either. I am just putting out some factual data that will help anyone understand how calories work in relation to weight.

It does suggest several things to consider, however.

  • As you lose weight you must cut calories if you want to continue losing weight at the same rate because your maintenance needs are reduced.
  • It shows that ordinarily a person may want to ease up on any weight loss goals as their weight gets lower so as not to over do it. It is not wise to cut back so much as to get below reasonable dietary needs just to lose weight a little faster when you are already in pretty good shape.
  • A related idea to consider is that like it or not, shorter people, when they are not grossly overweight, will need to be patient. Cut back enough to lose weight but do not overdo it in this case either so you will keep getting the nutrition you need from your food.
  • Most important, these numbers give us the basic building blocks for any successful diet. They give us factual data with which to calculate exactly how much we can eat to gain, lose, or maintain a given amount of weight.


The main point to remember is simply this: no matter what anyone says, calories do count.

These few numbers are worth remembering. They are extremely valuable to use in working out any weight loss plan as well as your normal long term maintenance healthy diet plan.