Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

USDA Calorie Counting Tips

        Health | Weight Loss

Burn More Calories
Being more active is a good way to control calories.
Being more active is a good way to control calories.
Publications International, Ltd.

Being more physically active is another way to tip your calorie-balance scale toward weight loss. Physical activity burns up calories, and it boosts your metabolism by revving up your internal engine and keeping it going at a higher rate for some time after you've stopped the activity. And physical activity, particularly strengthening activities, builds lean muscle tissue, which burns more calories than fat. The more muscle you have, the faster you burn calories, even when you're at rest.

Building muscle mass will also help protect you from weight gain as you age. Muscle mass tends to decrease with age, lowering your metabolism by about five percent per decade. So keeping active as you get older will help prevent loss of muscle mass and the subsequent slowing of your metabolism. To burn more calories, you need to determine how much activity and what type of activity is right for you.

Gradual weight gain is caused, on average, by an excess of only about 100 calories per day. So eliminating 100 calories by eating a little less and getting more physical activity may be all it takes to manage your weight. Losing 10 pounds over a year can be as simple as eating 100 calories less each day for a year. Try these tips to get started.

Five ways to trim 100 calories from food:

  • Swap a 12-ounce regular soft drink for a diet soft drink or water.
  • Drink 2 cups of fat-free milk instead of 2 cups of whole milk.
  • Use 1 teaspoon of mustard or ketchup or 1 tablespoon of fat-free mayonnaise in place of 1 tablespoon of regular mayonnaise.
  • Split a small order of french fries with a friend.
  • Slice a typical piece of pie or cake about one-third smaller.

Five ways to burn 100 calories through physical activity:*

  • Pedal an exercise bike for 13 minutes.
  • Practice some fast dance steps for 16 minutes.
  • Work in the garden for 18 minutes.
  • Walk briskly for 23 minutes (3.5 mph).
  • Clean the house for 25 minutes.

Five food and foot power combos to cut 100 calories:*

  • Eat 5 fewer potato chips, and walk for 6 minutes.
  • Eat one-quarter cup less of spaghetti with tomato sauce, and walk for 11 minutes.
  • Top toast with 2 teaspoons apple butter instead of 2 teaspoons butter, and walk for 11 minutes.
  • Spoon out 3 tablespoons less mashed potatoes, and walk for 13 minutes.
  • Skip 2 half-and-half creamers in coffee, and walk for 15 minutes.

*Physical activity and walking estimates based on calories burned by a 150-pound person. Calories burned will increase with higher body weights and decrease with lower body weights.

Tips are reprinted with permission of Food Insight, a publication of the International Food Information Council Foundation, 2003.

In the next section we will look at the third tenet of controlling calories, making wise food choices.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.