Weight loss has got to be one of the most misunderstood topics in the health and fitness industry.
There is so much misleading information out there for people to discover.
You can’t just take a magic supplement pill and lose weight without putting in the work, or go on a crash diet and expect to sustain the weight loss without compromising your health.
So, what I am going to do in this blog is explain how easy it is to lose weight the most effective and accurate way.
Believe me it is not that difficult.
What is a calorie?
For those of you that don’t know, a calorie is the amount of energy needed to heat one kilogram of water by one-degree Celsius.
Calories provide energy for our bodies to function; we also store and burn calories.
Now when it comes to losing weight, we need to put our bodies into a slight caloric deficit.
We do this by lowering our caloric intake and by increasing our energy expenditure i.e. burning more calories.
This is the energy balance we need to create to achieve fat loss.
I say slight because putting yourself in too big of a deficit can be detrimental to your health, it will even slow your metabolism down. Trust me, you do not want this to happen.
Being in a slight deficit of around 15-20% is what I find to be optimum for losing body fat, maintaining muscle mass, and feeling healthy.
Because that should be the goal, to lose fat and maintain your muscle. You will achieve this by doing predominately resistance training along with cardio.
Just cardio alone whilst dieting is not a good idea, loss of muscle mass and loose skin will likely be the end result.
I have dieted in the past before I actually knew what I was doing; I would lose the weight/fat, but also lose most of my muscle mass to go with it and feel like crap as the weeks went by.
This is because I would put myself in a massive deficit by under eating and overtraining with way too much cardio.
By being in a 15-20% deficit we are still starving our bodies but it is sustainable for long periods of time.
Not only is going higher than this percentage unhealthy, as I mentioned earlier, it could also lead to binge eating as you are putting your body into serious starvation mode.
Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to weight loss. I’ve been training clients for a long time now, and the people who get the best results, but more importantly keep their results, are the ones who lose the weight slowly overtime.
One to two pounds of weight loss a week is what you should be looking to achieve at the start of a weight loss plan. You might lose more than that in the first few weeks but that will just be water weight.
The body can only burn fat at a certain rate, a slow rate at that.
If you are losing more than one to two pounds a week of bodyweight after the first few weeks, it is not all fat that you are losing.
Therefore, I would recommend increasing your caloric intake, or cutting back on your cardio, not the weights!
Monitoring your bodyweight weekly is a good tool to gauge where you’re at, that way you can see if you are losing the weight too quickly.
Also, I advise you to get your body composition checked monthly to see if your bodyfat is coming down, and that your muscle mass isn’t going down with it.
From my experience, I would recommend being in a deficit for 12-16 weeks, then having a break and going onto maintenance calories for 4-6 weeks, before going back into a deficit.
This will give your body a break from being in starvation mode, but also give you a mental break from dieting.
Just don’t get carried away, maintenace is what it says on the tin, the number of calories you need to maintain your body weight.
Eating beyond your maintenace will put you in a caloric surplus, which is what we need to be in to gain weight and build muscle, and that is the opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
I will make another blog on how to build muscle the most effective and accurate way.
How to work out your caloric needs
So now we need to work out how many calories we need?
There are a number of different formulas that you can use to do this. The one I have found to be the simplest to use is the Harris Benedict Equation.
This equation is a method that is used to estimate your BMR, which is your basal metabolic rate. You then multiply this figure by a number that corresponds with your activity level and this will give you your approximate maintenance number of calories.
You then simply deduct 15-20% (deficit) from that number and this will be the number of calories you need to consume, per day, to lose weight/bodyfat.
I use the word approximate because it is not 100% accurate, none of the formulas are, but this equation is accurate enough and has always worked for me.
I won’t confuse you by writing out the equation, instead I will leave a link for an online calculator that I use myself.
Simply follow the instructions and it will work out your maintenance number for you.
So, how do you keep track of how many calories you are eating per day?
The easiest way, and the most accurate, is to use a mobile phone app.
The app I use for this is called @MyFitnessPal, and I have been using this now for years.
Thanks to modern technology, the days of having to work how many calories are in each food item you consume are gone.
Although some people prefer to have a set diet plan tailored to their caloric needs, I find that its rigidity can be quite monotonous and clients rarely stick to it.
The best approach, in my opinion, is called flexible dieting, and apps such as my fitness pal are the perfect tool for this diet plan.
Once you’ve worked out how many calories you need to be in a deficit, you then simply add this number into your tracking device.
So, you’re basically getting to eat what you want, when you want! Hence the word flexible.
No set diet plan, no structure, just hit your calories and you will lose weight.
Obviously, you should be eating as clean foods as possible. This will ensure you’re getting all the essential nutrients that your body needs to function and recover from training properly, but also perform at your best inside the gym.
Eating garbage will just make you feel like garbage, and will also make it harder for you to stick to your daily caloric number as junk/processed foods are higher in calories.
In sum, to lose weight (burn fat) you need to create a negative energy balance.
To do this you need to work out your maintenance calories, which are the number of calories you need to consume, to stay at the same bodyweight.
You do this by using the Harris Benedict equation.
Then simply deduct 15-20% from your maintenace number of calories. This puts you in a slight caloric deficit, creating the negative energy balance we are looking for.
Using the calorie tracking apps is the most accurate way to know how many calories you’re consuming each day.
Or the other method, if you prefer to have a structured set diet, is to get a bespoke plan created to your exact caloric needs.
Remember you have an activity level also calculated into this equation.
As we know, exercising will increase our energy expenditure, which will also help create that negative energy balance.
Performing predominately resistance/strength training, with added cardio when needed, is what will give you the best results in terms of body composition.
Anybody is capable of achieving their dream body, it just takes effort, consistency and patience.
Hopefully this blog helps and you understand how simple it really is to lose weight.
Work out your numbers and get started right away, I guarantee you will see results within a couple of weeks.
Thanks for reading, share this post with your friend’s and on social media.
The more people I can help, the better.
Until next time