If you are looking to lose or maintain your weight you will need to tap into your energy balance. Scientist’s define energy balance as the number of calories burned being equal to or exceeding the number of calories consumed. Simple as this calculation may seem, the numbers can become easily skewed on both sides.

Research has shown people widely underestimate the calories they consume – the larger the meal, the larger the disparity. When factoring calories burned into the equation the numbers become even more convoluted. How can this be? When determining the number of calories you burn in a given day exercise equipment and activity charts are only estimates of the number of calories you burn per activity. Whether you are on a treadmill or gardening, actual calorie expenditure varies between each of us.

As we gage this balance we ask ourselves, how many calories should I consume and how much exercise do I really need in a day? To calculate an estimated range of the number of calories you should consume, multiply your weight by 11 (the low end, if you are sedentary) and by 15 (the high end, for more active lifestyles). For a person weighing 160 pounds, they should aim their daily caloric intake from 1,760 to 2,400 to maintain their weight and less if they are trying to lose weight. For those who are fit with a higher proportion of lean muscle to body fat, they will need more calories than those with more body fat.

One last variable to add to this side of the equation, make your calories count by making healthy food choices - a nutrient-rich diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, grains, lean meats and seafood. Avoid processed and convenience foods as these are often packed with added fat and sodium.

Exercise plays an equivalent role to caloric intake in terms of energy balance. At least 30 minutes of moderate activity or 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on most days of the week can yield preventative strides against cardiovascular disease, mental health disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, and metabolic disorders such as Diabetes. It is also a healthy way to alleviate stress. An exercise regimen consisting of cardio, strength training and relaxation is essential to a healthy body and mind. Looking your best comes with feeling your best.

The bottom line of calculating your energy balance with weight loss remains that you need to burn or eliminate approximately 3,500 calories to lose one pound. To lose a pound a week you would need to cut 500 calories a day which is almost the equivalent of a Big Mac. To burn the equivalent of one chocolate chip cookie it would take approximately 20 minutes of jogging, 110 minutes for the hamburger. Rewarding your efforts to stay in shape with added calories to your diet because you “deserve it” will not get you the results you are seeking. A combination of both diet and exercise is needed; however, reducing your caloric intake will bring your balance closer in check. Know your numbers do your math and you may change your statistics.

Author's Bio: 

Christie Clipper, owner of Healthy Edge, LLC, has nearly 20 years experience in numerous health delivery systems and research in human behaviors. As a health and wellness coach, Christie empowers people to harness and breakthrough barriers that get in the way of taking care of themselves. If you can benefit from guidance, support and accountability in assisting you with reaching your health and fitness goals, learn more and get started http://healthyedge-llc.com.