The delicate dance between consuming and spending calories is the basis for most weight-loss journeys.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends balancing the number of calories consumed with the number of calories the body uses. Calorie is defined as a unit of energy supplied by food, regardless of its source. All foods (fats, proteins and carbohydrates, including sugar) contain calories. To remain in balance and maintain a healthy body weight, the calories consumed from food must be balanced by the calories used in all body functions, activities and exercises.

Simply put:

Calories in more than calories out = caloric surplus, muscle and/or fat gain.

Calories out more than calories in = caloric deficit, muscle and/or fat loss.

Calories in equals calories out = no change.

To lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, the CDC recommends reducing the average caloric intake by 100 to 500 calories per day. The best way to monitor caloric intake is by writing down the foods and drinks consumed each day and recording the calories of each item.

If the goal is to gain muscle, diet should be heavy in protein with an exercise regimen that emphasizes weight and resistance training. To build muscle there must be a surplus of calories. If the goal is to tone up and slim down, exercise should be geared toward resistance and cardo training with a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (dark leafy vegetables, salmon) and whole grains.

One of the best and easiest adjustments to make when starting your caloric journey is increasing water intake. A study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics showed drinking more water  ̶ associated with eating fewer calories, as well as less sugar, salt and cholesterol  ̶  helps people eat less. Replacing sugary beverages with water, drinking water instead of snacking and drinking a full glass of water before each meal are simple ways to reduce caloric intake while still feeling full.

Calories expended during a workout depend on the exercises chosen and effort expended while exercising. The following exercises and calories burned are based on a 200-lb. person and will vary by person:

Hatha yoga – 228 calories per hour (CPH)

Slow walk – 255 CPH

Bowling, ballroom dancing, Tai Chi – 273 CPH

Canoeing downstream – 319 CPH

Easy cycling, volleyball, power yoga – 364 CPH

Golf (carrying clubs), downhill skiing, brisk walking – 391 CPH

Pilates – between 250-450 CPH

Low-impact aerobics, running on an elliptical, weightlifting, baseball/softball – 455 CPH

Water aerobics – 501 CPH

Light to moderate lap swimming – 528 CPH

Hiking, rowing on a machine – 546 CPH

Cross-country skiing – 619 CPH

Hiking with a heavy backpack – 637 CPH

Racquetball – 637 CPH

High-impact aerobics – 664 CPH

Spin cycling class – 500-700 CPH

Zumba – 720 CPH

Basketball – 728 CPH

Flag football, singles tennis – 728 CPH

Running 5 mph – 755 CPH

Running up stairs – 819 CPH

Vigorous swimming – 892 CPH

Martial arts training – 937 CPH

Jumping rope – 1,074 CPH