Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.
Taking SparkPeople's quizzes and assessments is a fun way to test your knowledge on nutrition, fitness, and health, and to learn more about yourself!
Will You Win at the Numbers Game?
Weight loss is a simple equation of calories in versus calories out, right? Sometimes it's more complicated than that. Find out whether you know how win the numbers game.
0 of 9 Correct
True or False: It's important to eat at least 1,200 calories per day so that you don't enter "starvation mode," which can stall your weight loss.
Explanation: OK, this was a tricky question. It is important for adults to eat at least 1,200 calories per day, but this is because most people will find it almost impossible to maintain good nutrition (meeting your body's needs all nutrients, like protein, calcium and more) when eating fewer than 1,200 calories. However, while "starvation mode" is a real concern, the number of calories you need to avoid it is going to be based on several factors, including your current weight and activity level. For every individual, starvation mode could set in at higher or lower than 1,200 calories. Learn More:About Starvation Mode
True or False: The best way to tell if your program is working well is by seeing results on the scale.
Explanation: There are several reasons why the scale can be the least reliable measure of your progress. For most people, the goal isn't really losing weight at allóit's losing fat. It's very common, for example, to gain or maintain weight, even if you're actually losing fat. This is especially true during the first few weeks of a big change in diet and exercise. (The inverse is also true: you can lose weight without losing much fat at all, and this is what often happens when you try to lose weight too quickly.) Simply put, your body doesnít work like a bank account. Your calorie "deposits" (eating) and "withdrawals" (exercising) donít always affect the "balance" (weight) the way you'd expect because many other factors can affect your weight. The scale is just one of many things to look at, and usually not as useful as other things like body fat percentage, the fit of your clothes, how you're feeling about the changes you're making, and the progress you're making in your fitness and health. One of the worst things you can do is let a disappointing result on the scale convince you that all your efforts are wastedóthat's just not the case. Learn More:Use Measurements Besides the Scale, Measure Progress Without the Scale, Exercise & Temporary Weight Gain
True or False: There are no limits to how much stored fat your body can burn in a day.
Explanation: If your calorie deficit (the difference between how many calories you eat vs. how many you burn) becomes too large, your body will start cannibalizing muscle and organ tissue for fuel. There are a lot of "rules" that govern how your body uses energy. For example, your brain can't use stored fat for energy, and your muscles will only burn significant amounts of fat when they are working at medium intensity. So if you want to lose fat, youíve got to play by your bodyís rules: Aim to lose one-half and two pounds per week, through a combination of moderate calorie reduction and increased exercise. If you only have 10 pounds or less to lose, aim for the lower end of that range (one pound or less each week); if you have more than 50 to lose, you can aim for the high end (one to two pounds per week).
The best way to include exercise in your weight loss plan is to:
A - Do as much high-intensity cardio as you can each day--the more calories you burn, the better.
B - Keep your cardio exercise in the lower-intensity "fat-burning zone" to maximize the amount of fat you'll burn as fuel.
C - Do the bare minimum of cardio required for heart health, and emphasize muscle building, because muscle burns more calories, even at rest.
D - Find a combination of activities, intensity levels, and workout durations that you can stick with for the long haul while staying will fit and healthy.
Explanation: Exercise plays several important roles in a healthy lifestyle. Cardio exercise burns lots of calories that could otherwise be turned into fat; high-intensity workouts also help improve fitness and cardiovascular health, while they maximize calorie burning. But too much cardio and not enough strength training will also increase the amount of muscle mass you lose, and thatís bad for both daily functioning and for keeping the weight off. To keep the weight off permanently and stay fit, youíre going to have to maintain the same activity level that helped you get it off, so a crash exercise program isnít any better than a crash diet. There are many options you can explore to find ways to combine calorie burning, cardiovascular health, and overall fitness in your program.
Aiming to lose 2 pounds per week is a good idea if:
You exercise more in addition to reducing your calorie intake.
You don't get so hungry that you can't stick to your eating plan.
Your current body Mass Index (BMI) is 30 or more.
You recognize that this is the amount you should lose on average over time, and that the actual amount you lose will vary from week to week.
Explanation: The other three answers are all important factors in picking a realistic rate of weight loss, but studies have shown that aiming to lose 2 pounds per week can cause problems for people whose current BMI is less than 30. But once your BMI falls below 30, reducing calories to lose 2 pounds per week is probably going to put you below the minimum amount you need to stay healthy. Instead, set up your program to lose about 1 pound per week (or half a pound, once youíre within about 10 pounds of goal).
True or False: To lose fat, it doesnít matter what you eat as long as you stay within your calorie range.
Explanation: Your body has many complex processes that determine when energy gets put into and taken out of storage (fat cells). These processes are directly affected by what, when and how much you eat. Eating a healthy, balanced diet will make it easier for your body to burn fat and prevent the food you eat from being stored as fat. Whole, minimally processed foods and nutritionally-balanced meals are better than meals that are high in refined sugars, sodium, and/or processed grains. It's much harder for your body to turn lean protein, fruits, veggies and whole grains into fat than it is to turn sugar and refined foods into fat, for example. And more research is showing that a diet of whole foods is metabolized more efficiently than modern-day's processed food products, which may slow metabolism and lead to weight gain.
True or False. Since physical activity burns extra calories, you should record all of your daily activity on your exercise tracker.
Explanation: All physical activity does burn calories, and the more of it you can include in your daily life, the better off you'll be. But there are several reasons why you should use only use the Fitness Tracker to record actual exercise that gets your heart rate up to at least 55-60% of your maximum and keeps it there for at least 10 minutes at a time. Your calorie range already assumes you'll do a moderate amount of daily activity (walking here and there, straightening up the house, working, etc.), so adding things like daily chores or all the steps you take during an entire day will count the calories you burned twice. That means that you're misleading yourself if you think you're burning enough calories to lose weight by doing everyday things that SparkPeople's formulas already assume you're doing. So, to make sure youíre not overestimating how many calories youíre burning, the best bet is to use the tracker to record only the planned, higher-intensity activity that is actually considered exercise. Learn More:What Counts as Cardio Exercise?
True or False. When you stick to your calorie and exercise goals, you can expect to lose the same amount of weight each week.
Explanation: Both your weight and your rate of weight loss will fluctuate all the time due to factors that have nothing to do with your calorie intake or exercise routine. You can expect your weight loss to be consistent if you take an average over time, but your weight change in any given week can be higher or lower than expected, even when you do everything "right." You might even gain weight some weeks, or go several weeks without a significant change. Keep in mind (as described in question #2 above) that weight isn't the same thing as fat.
The most common reason for not losing weight as expected is:
Not eating enough to support your activity level (starvation mode)
Calorie counters on exercise machines and online trackers often over-estimate your calorie expenditure
Your metabolism is slowed down due to medication or some medical problem such as hypothyroidism
Youíre not tracking your food intake or exercise accurately
Explanation: All of the things listed above could prevent you from losing weight, but by far the most common problem is underestimating how much you're actually eating, and/or overestimating how many calories you're burning. Itís very easy to be off on your portion sizes if you're not precisely measuring or if you forget to track a few "little" things you popped into your mouth during the day. It's also very common to assume you're working hard enough during your workouts to burn calories at the rate of 600-700+ per hour when realistically, you're not. So, if you're not getting the results you want on the scale for several weeks in a row, the first thing to do is go back and double check your food and exercise tracking to make sure your numbers are right.
SparkPeople, SparkCoach, SparkPages, SparkPoints, SparkTeams, SparkDiet, SparkAmerica, SparkRecipes, DailySpark, and other marks are trademarks of SparkPeople, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
SPARKPEOPLE is a registered trademark of SparkPeople, Inc. in the United States, European Union, Canada, and Australia. All rights reserved.