Updated: Jan 17, 2021
"I want to lose weight".
How many times have you said that?
How many times have I been told that!
How many people spend their whole life searching for that holy grail of diets?
Think about it...
Spending your whole life hopping from one diet to the next...
Hoping that this time you've found the magic pill for weight loss.
Weight control means being in control of your weight.
This is your ultimate goal.
Weight loss, weight gain, and weight maintenance are the three things you can do once you reach this goal.
But, it's the general ability to control your weight that allows you to make these things happen.
Calories are everything.
Read it again if you have to.
Forget carbs, forget fat, forget protein, forget every single thing you've ever heard about diet and nutrition.
Weight control is all about calories.
This is not a gimmick or a diet fad either.
This is the proven science of the human body.
A calorie (or kilocalories, the official title) is simply a unit of measurement given to the amount of energy your body generates from what you eat and drink.
Everything you eat and drink contains calories.
From biscuits, sweets, chips and fizzy drinks, to whole wheat bread, grilled chicken, broccoli, orange juice AND alcohol... they all contain calories.
Because these are the calories you are taking in, they are calories in.
Now, in the human body, all of your daily functions are powered by this energy
From intense exercise like running and weight training to everyday tasks like standing and tying your shoes... they all burn calories.
Did you know that your body uses a ton of calories every single day even when you aren't doing anything?
Keeping your body alive and functioning properly burns lots of calories.
Because these are the calories your body is burning and using up, they are calories out.
Weight control is all about calories in and calories out.
How To Reach Your Specific Weight Goal
If you consume more calories than you burn, you gain weight. Your body turns the excess energy into adipose tissue (body fat), which will be converted into energy at a later date.
If you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight. Your body uses your reserves as energy and you burn fat. This is called a calorie deficit.
And, if you both burn and consume the same number of calories, your weight stays the same.
Through Calorie Counting
It should be pretty obvious to you by now that all you need to do is count your calories in and count your calories out.
And, adjust them to make your weight do what you want it to do.
Another Thing About Adjusting Your Calories
For general health purposes, you never want to make large or fast changes to your calorie intake.
Instead, you want to be very slow and very gradual.
It is recommended that weight should be gained or lost at a rate of about 1 or 2 pounds per week.
There are about 3500 calories in one pound.
That means if you are 500 calories under per day, you will lose 1 pound per week.
Because 500 calories below each day, multiplied by 7 days in a week, equals 3500 total
calories under for the week.
And, 3500 calories under equals about 1 pound of weight loss.
The same goes for weight gain. If you are 500 above each day, you'll gain 1 pound per week.
Too large a calorie deficit and you run the risk of suffering a number of undesirable consequences.
Yes, you will lose weight but your body might start to break down your lean body mass (muscle) for fuel and you run the risk of upsetting your hormones.
In addition, your mood, energy levels and sex drive may all take a turn for the worse.
So, it's generally not a good idea to create a calorie deficit below 500 calories a day.
Determine Your Resting Energy Expenditure
To calculate how many calories you need to maintain your current weight, first determine your resting energy expenditure.
An easy formula for calculating this is to multiply your current weight in pounds by 10 if you're female and 11 if you're male.
This is an estimation of how much energy your body needs at rest, your basal metabolic rate (BMR)
Factor in Physical Activity
Once you have your BMR, factor in physical activity to determine your maintenance calories.
If you're female, multiply your expenditure calculation by 1.3 if you're sedentary, 1.5 if you engage in light activity, 1.6 for moderate exercise, 1.9 if you're very active and 2.2 if you're extremely active.
For males, multiply your calorie expenditure by 1.3 for sedentary, 1.6 for light activity, 1.7 for moderate, 2.1 for very active and 2.4 for extremely active.
Light activity refers to walking, doing laundry or playing golf, whereas full-time athletes and individuals with strenuous jobs fit into the extremely active category.
So, as an example ...
A male that weighs 185lbs
185 x 11 = 2035 (your basal metabolic rate)
This male is lightly active, so...
2035 x 1.6 = 3256
This means that for our male to maintain his weight, he needs to eat 3256 calories a day.
Conversely, if he wanted to lose weight, he could eat 500 calories less a day and over a week that would add up to 3500 calories ... 1lb of weight loss.
If he ate more than 3256 calories a day, he would gain weight.
To Sum Up
What exactly can you do with your body weight? You need to know that there are only three things you can do with your weight. Lose weight, gain weight and maintain weight. You achieve each through different modifications of the same thing - CALORIE COUNTING. So, whatever diet you’ve used in the past to lose weight, comes down to one thing, CALORIES.
Calories are everything. Everything you eat and drink (except water) contains calories. Everything you do, burns calories. Did you know that your body uses a ton of calories every single day by keeping your body alive?
Weight control = Calories In vs Calories Out. If you consume more calories than you burn, you gain weight. If you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight. If you both burn and consume the same number of calories, your weight stays the same.
Get more active. This doesn’t mean slogging it out at the gym. NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis are calories burned during non-intentional exercise activities. Such as walking, gardening, housekeeping, standing and sex. The better your understanding of NEAT, the easier weight management becomes.
Increase your protein intake. Protein benefits muscle growth and fat loss. It helps fill you up and burns more calories. As long as you stay in your calorie deficit, the split between carbs and fats is not really that important to increase your protein intake for better body composition.
Read food labels. Food labels help you to understand food or drinks calorie and nutritional content. This is helpful if you fancy a particular food or drink and you don't want to feel restricted. By knowing the calorie content, you can decide if you want to fit it into your daily calorie allowance.
What gets measured, gets managed. An app such as MyFitnessPal helps you to take control of your goals by tracking calories. Study after study has confirmed the benefits of keeping track of the food you eat and the activity you do. It's simple - the more you track your food intake, the more likely you are to lose weight. Every successful weight management program suggests that you keep a food diary.
Eat plenty of fruit and veg. Low in calories, provide lots of nutrients and vitamins and leave you feeling full. What’s not to love about fruit and veg?
Drink plenty of water. Thirst can sometimes be mistaken for hunger. Water is a healthy choice for quenching your thirst and contains no calories. Swap your regular soft drinks for water and you remove excess calories from your diet too.
Do not restrict foods. Have you ever approached fat loss by removing all junk food from your house? Only to find that the cravings are so intense, you give in, binge and then feel guilty for being weak?
Well, try the opposite, do not restrict any foods. Allow yourself to eat whatever you like, as long as it fits within your daily calorie allowance.
Set goals. Goal setting is the first step towards achievement. It's when you choose to switch from being passive to being actively involved in your life. Here are five ways you can achieve your goals this year
Plan your meals. Plan out what you intend to eat each day. And, enter each meal into your food tracker, making sure you stick to your calorie allowance. You can use the plan to create your shopping list for the week.
Don’t engage in extreme diets. Anyone that has tried an extreme or fad diet will tell you of the struggles and how they put the weight back on. Fad diets can be restrictive, lack nutrients and are not enjoyable. Some can be temporary, bizarre and even downright dangerous. Just don’t.
Stay consistent with your habits. Successful weight maintenance is easier to do when you stick to your plan all week long. One bad moment shouldn’t ruin your entire day and the same applies for changing habits. One moment of excess doesn’t mean you should quit and revert to old habits. Take responsibility for the choices you make and get right back on track by choosing to do so.
Sleep 7-9 hours per night. Skimping on sleep sets up your brain to make bad decisions. Imagine what it’s like being drunk. You don’t have the mental clarity to make good decisions. And on top of that, your brain’s reward centre kicks in looking for something that feels good.
Ben Yates is a personal trainer based at Places Gym Hinckley and Hinckley Leisure Centre in Leicestershire.
To book your free personal training consultation click here