100 Calories Less to a Thin Waist

Friday, September 14, 2007 - 11:26am

By Dena McDowell, MS, RD

Obesity is at an all-time high with more than 66 percent of Americans considered to be overweight. According to the USDA and the National Institutes of Health's combined research 133.6 million Americans are considered to be overweight. Of those, 63.6 million are considered to be obese. The health ramifications of carrying extra weight are huge and include a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, and certain forms of cancer. The economic costs of treating this epidemic are also steep. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, from 2001-2004 Americans incurred 117 billion dollars each year in diagnosing and treating illness related to being overweight. To stop this unhealthy health trend, one must reduce calorie intake and begin an exercise program to promote a healthy weight loss .

How many calories in a pound?

One pound of body fat equals 3500 calories . In order to lose one pound one must reduce calorie intake by 3500 calories. A reduction of 500 calories a day should result in one pound loss per week. Exercise can play a role in weight loss by expending more calories and increasing metabolic rate. If losing a pound per week is the goal, it may be easier to eat 250 less calories in a day coupled with 250 calories burned through exercise.

A thin waist through exercise

According to the American Hearth Association and the USDA's Healthy People 2010 report, physical activity should be part of a healthy lifestyle and as a means to acheive that slim waistline. It is recommended that Americans aim to get in one hour of exercise each day. This time can be broken into smaller amounts throughout the day. Below is a chart with calories expended by common activities. Calories per activity burned is dependent on body weight of the person doing the activity .

Activity (1 hour)

100 pound person

150 pound person

200 pound person

Biking 6 mph




Biking 12 mph




Running 5.5 mph




Running 7 mph




Running 10 mph




Swimming 25 yd/min




Swimming 50 yd/min




Tennis singles




Walking 2 mph




Walking 3 mph




Walking 4.5 mph




Simple ways to decrease calorie intake

To promote weight loss, one must analyze one's dietary habits. Something as simple as drinking one less soda a day may help shed the extra pounds. An average regular soda has 150 calories per 12-ounce can. Drinking one less a day reduces calorie intake by 54,750 calories a year. This results in a 15.64 weight loss in one year if all other variables remain unchanged. Choose flavored water, plain water, or diet sodas more often to reduce calorie intake.

Other simple ideas include filling half your plate with vegetables to reduce your total calorie intake by half in a meal, or you could aim to increase fiber into the diet as a way to decrease calories consumed and help the body feel full faster. When eating in a restaurant split entrée portions in half. Either share the portion or take half home. Many restaurants do not practice portion control, and average portions are three to four times the recommended amount! If enjoying a meal out, either skip the dessert or choose to share with a friend. Eating five to six small meals will also help regulate your metabolism and help shed extra pounds. This trick may sound counterintuitive but skipping meals or not eating at regular patterned meal times can result in overeating because of increased hunger.

If snacking is a problem, aim to increase fruit and vegetable intake to curb calorie intake while increasing fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Identifying the reasons for eating may also add insight to problems with overeating. If you are someone who eats more when emotions rise be aware that the food choices do not change the outcome of the situation.

Making the most of your daily dalorie intake

When trying to curb calories it is important to be persistent in your plan. Oftentimes people will lose weight quickly at first, then suddenly plateau which becomes frustrating and may lead to failure. It may be helpful to journal your daily intake of food, amount of food consumed, and emotions related to eating to identify problem areas. Perseverance pays off in the long run. Weight loss is a tough challenge. Make it fun by trying new recipes, exercising with a friend, or setting up a non-food reward system. The longer you keep the pounds off, the more likely you are to have weight-loss success in the future.