Weight Loss By The Numbers
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This is Part 1 of a 3 Part series.
Conventional weight loss programs rely on counting calories. Calories measure the amount of energy each food provides. A typical person burns 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day to supply the energy needed to perform all of their daily functions. By counting the calories in the food you eat, you can estimate if you will gain or lose weight.
If you consume MORE calories than you need, the extra calories will be stored as fat. If you consume LESS calories than you need, you will burn some of your body fat for energy and you will lose weight. Pretty simple concept, but the devil is in the details. So let’s see if we can fill in some of those details.
The standard rule of thumb says the average woman burns about 2,000 calories a day, and men who are generally bigger, on average burn around 2,500 per day. This is for people that are moderately active. Moderately active means getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day in the form of exercise (walking at a brisk pace, climbing stairs, or active gardening).
How many calories do you personally burn in a day? Bigger people burn more calories than smaller people. Active people burn more calories than sedentary people. We will work on coming up with more precise calorie estimates later on.
How much energy does your stored fat provide? One pound of your body fat will provide 3,500 calories. If you burn 3,500 calories more than you eat, you will lose 1 pound of fat. Same thing in reverse. If you eat 3,500 calories more than you burn, you will gain 1 pound of fat.
So let’s say a typical man and woman both go on a 1,500 calorie a day diet. On a 1,500 calorie a day diet, the average woman will burn 2,000 calories and thus will have a 500 calorie deficit per day. The average man on the other hand would burn 2,500 calories and thus will have a 1,000 calorie a day deficit, on the same diet.
Calorie Deficit=Weight Loss
On this 1,500 calorie a day diet, at the end of a week, the woman will have a 3,500 calorie deficit (7 X 500= 3,500) and will lose 1 pound of fat. The man will have a 7,000 calorie deficit and will lose 2 pounds of fat. If they keep this up for a month they will lose about 4 and 8 pounds respectively and over the course of a year, 50 and 100 pounds.
What Does a 1,500 Calorie a Day Diet Look Like?
2 pieces of bacon
1 wheat toast with butter
BLT Sandwich with mayo
California Mix, 2 cups
1 large apple
Pork Chop, BNLS, 4 oz.
Butter, 1/2 tbsp
Balsamic Vinegar 2 tbsp
This is a typical diet that will lead to a 1 or 2 pound weight loss per week. Most people, if motivated, can follow a diet like this, at least initially. You will want to try some substitutions for variety based on your preferences. By consulting online calorie counters you can modify this diet to suit you.
Exercise is an Essential Part of Your Calorie Deficit
ACTIVITY LEVEL AND EXERCISE: Sedentary people have a harder time losing weight even when following the same diet because they burn fewer calories. You need a Fitbit or other athletic tracker to see how many steps you are getting each day. You can download a free tracker on your smartphone that will count steps. Under 5,000 steps/day is considered sedentary. To create your calorie deficit, you probably want to get at least 7,000 steps, 5 days a week.
In addition to your steps you should do aerobic exercise 5 days a week. The aerobic exercise can be as simple as a 30 minute brisk walk. Exercise does 3 important things that will benefit your weight loss.
Exercise burns more calories, thus increasing your calorie deficit.
Exercise helps prevent muscle loss.
Exercise prevents your metabolism from slowing down.
Here Are Some Other Important Guidelines
FIBER: Men should get at least 38 grams per day of fiber and women should get at least 25 grams. Currently the average adult in the US only gets about 15 grams per day.
PROTEIN: Protein requirement is 56 grams/day for men and 46 grams/day for women. It's OK to go over, but you don't want to go under these amounts. Going below this amount will promote muscle loss, which you really want to avoid. Your immune system also needs protein to produce antibodies, thus inadequate protein will lead to a weakened immune system
CALORIES: A common medical guideline is that calorie intake should not fall below 1,200 a day in women or 1,500 a day in men, except under the supervision of a health professional. Eating too few calories can endanger your health by depriving you of needed nutrients.
To lose 1 pound of fat, you need to create a 3,500 calorie deficit, by eating less and increasing your activity and exercise.
To help prevent muscle loss and slowing of your metabolism, you should get 7,000+ steps and walk briskly for 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
This Sounds So Easy!
Why Do So Many Dieters NOT Lose Weight?
Stay tuned for real answers to that question!
Part 2 next week: The 3 main reasons dieters don't lose weight.
Part 3 in 2 weeks: A diet that actually works and doesn't rely on willpower.
Take care and BE HEALTHY!
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