Weight Loss: What You Need To Know First

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Have you ever been confused about the right way to lose weight? Perhaps you heard these before and you believed what you heard, only to hear something different later on:

  • Carbs make you fat.
  • Fat makes you fat.
  • Low-carb makes you lose weight.
  • Low-fat makes you lose weight.
  • Giving up sugar makes you lose weight.
  • and so on….

You’d find it hard to know which one to actually eat!

And there are so many kinds of diets our there: keto, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, alkaline, organic, intermittent fasting, juicing, superfoods, raw food, diet tea, and the list goes on. Which one should you follow?

I personally found it confusing before, as well. I know how you feel.

In this post, I aim to cut through the confusion and simplify weight loss.

The Only Way You Can Lose Weight

Weight loss only comes when your calorie intake from food is less than the calories you burn. This is called the calorie deficit.

That is the only way that you can lose weight, regardless of the kind of diet and exercise you do. If you are asking why you are not losing weight, the most likely answer is that you’re not in calorie deficit.

If your calorie intake is equal to your calorie expenditure, you maintain your weight.

If your calorie intake is greater than your calorie expenditure, you gain weight. Excess calories are stored as fat.

The more calorie deficit  you have, the faster the weight loss.

Calorie DeficitWeight Loss
300-500 calories / day300-500 g/week
500-1,000 calories / day500-1,000 g/week

The desirable rate of weight loss for most people is 0.5 – 1 kg per week. The initial weight loss in the first month is usually faster, and then it can slow down or come to a plateau.

You then have to readjust your calorie intake and calorie expenditure to maintain calorie deficit. Once you’re reached your desired weight, you’ll have to readjust your targets to move to a new goal, such as weight maintenance or muscle gain.

So, yes, your weight loss is really about your calories. Because of that, it’s worth your while to be learn more about them.

Where Do Calories Come From?

Calories are units of measurement of energy. You get your energy from the food that you eat and that energy is measured in calories.

The four sources of energy from your food are called macronutrients (macros), which are the following:

  • Fat – 1 gram of fat has 9 calories
  • Carbohydrates – 1 gram of carbohydrate has 4 calories
  • Protein – 1 gram of protein has 4 calories
  • Alcohol – 1 gram of alcohol has 7 calories

For example, you ate 50 g of protein. It will give you 200 calories (50 g X 4 calories per gram of protein =  200 calories).

Calories from Fat + Carbohydrates + Protein + Alcohol = Your Calorie Intake

P.S. If you see “kcal”, it’s short for kilocalories, or 1,000 calories. However, kcal and calories are used interchangeably, even in food labels. We’ll use “calories” as our unit of measurement in my blog.

How Do You Burn Calories?

You burn calories because of your movement and everything else that happens in your body to keep you alive, which are basic metabolic stuff.

It’s hard to control the energy you burn with your basic metabolic stuff, but you have plenty of control over your movement.

You can burn more calories by increasing your exercise and day-to-day movement such as walking, going up and down the stairs, playing with your kids and doing household chores.

Are Calories Created Equal?

100 calories from fat are the same energy as 100 calories from protein. 200 calories from “healthy food” are the same as 200 calories from “junk food”.

So even if you eat “healthy food” but you eat too much of it, you can still gain weight. Calories are equal regardless of their source and they are burned the same way.

Calories then are about quantity of food but not about the quality of food. But remember that the quality of your food is important for your overall health.

The food you put in your belly for your energy requirement and enjoyment is also the same food you give to your brain, your heart, your arteries and all important parts of your body. To me, being healthy on the inside is more important than looking good on the outside.

Aside from calories then, you also need to look at the quality of the food you eat so you can enjoy your weight loss with good health, as well. Eat more whole, unprocessed food (made by nature) and eat less processed food (made by man).

Putting It All Together

To achieve weight loss, you need to be in calorie deficit: your calorie intake from food should be lesser than your energy expenditure. You can therefore lose weight by:

  • Eating fewer calories
  • Increasing your movement

If calories are the foundation for weight loss, it’s really worth learning about them, tracking them, and developing helpful habits around them if you want to lose weight permanently.

Check out my post on how how to set your target calories and how to track them, and stay tuned for my post on helpful habits that can lead to permanent weight loss. (How to Track Your Calories)

Choose At Least One Simple Habit You Can Start Now

My goal is to inspire you to develop simple health habits one at a time. You’ll be surprised to see how your new habit will eventually make you feel better about your health and about yourself.

Your habits also have a compounding effect, and they’ll lead you to the kind of health and the kind of life that you’ll have 20, 30, 50 years from now. It would be great if you work towards the kind of health you want to enjoy in your retirement years.

Which one of these would you like to start with today?

  • Eat less.
  • Move more.

Which new habit did you choose? Please let me know by commenting below. I’d also love to know your thoughts after reading my article.


“Human Nutrition” 13e edited by Catherine Geissler and Hilary Powers (2017)

“Eat What You Like & Lose Weight For Life” by Grame Tomlinson (2020)

“Not A Diet Book: Lose Fat. Gain Confidence. Transform Your Life.” by James Smith (2020)

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