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When you're on a diet, or trying to maintain a healthy weight with a calorie-controlled lifestyle, sometimes tasty "bad" food can be irresistible. If you use the calorie-banking method of weight loss, though, you can engineer in special treats every once in a while without affecting your overall calorie intake. This system requires careful management of food intake and calorie burn through exercise, but it has the advantage of being completely within your control.
The number of calories that you need to limit yourself to per day depends on a lot of personal variables. For example, the Mayo Clinic says that men need more calories in general than women, so most women have to eat fewer calories than the equivalent man to lose weight. Larger people, or those with more muscle, burn more calories in an average day than smaller people or those who are less muscled. In addition, the older you get, the fewer calories you need to eat, on average.
The National Institutes of Health advises most people to cut down their calorie intake if they want to lose weight. A plan of 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day is safe for women, the NIH says, and it recommenda 1,200 to 1,600 calories for men. Eating fewer calories than these recommendations is not safe without a doctor's supervision.
Calorie banking means borrowing calories from some of your regular diet days to use on other days. For example, a man on a calorie limit of 1,600 per day can bank 200 of his calories from one or more days to use on other days. If he saves 200 calories from three days, then he has 600 calories banked to spend on a treat. This equates, for example, to a blueberry muffin and a frappucino if you meet up with friends on the weekend. This system also makes you aware of how many calories are in the treats that you want, and you can improve your treat quality, and spend fewer calories, by going for lighter options.
Calorie banking can be thought of as income from a job. If you do overtime and exercise, you earn more calories to spend. Some exercises burn more energy than others, but all exercise counts. For example, if you have eaten your calorie limit for the day, but still want that blueberry muffin and coffee, then going for a two-hour quick walk will earn you that 600 calories in the bank so you can indulge with a clear conscience.