28 Jul The Truth: How to lose weight
Body weight and composition can be a frustrating thing. You don’t pay attention to it and then one day…BOOM…you’re 10lbs heavier and feel like crap. In fact, frustration maybe one of the milder emotions you feel at that point in time.
Even worse than the problem of being overweight is that the losing weight seems to be very complicated. Every day, people are clicking on articles with titles like ‘The one simple trick to lose weight’. If only it were that easy…
Wouldn’t it be nice if the science was explained in an easy to follow guide? Yes. So here it is.
Here comes the hard part. The truth is that YOU are the reason you gained the weight in the first place. That may hurt your feelings but it’s reality. Every time you had that donut or a second serving of pizza, it contributed to your waistline. Every time you put ‘learning how to lose weight’ on the bottom of your to-do list, it contributed to your current state. Most people know this, they just don’t want to admit it. They prioritize junk food over eating better, and that’s OKAY…if you are content with the consequences. But what if you’re not okay with the consequences?
Although it may feel like it, the goal of this article is not to make you feel terrible. Instead, the objective of this article is to empower you and then educate you on how to FINALLY make progress. Because, without understanding the problem, how can you expect to have a solution?
If you want to make meaningful change then you must take some real-world action (not just telling yourself that you’re going to start on Monday). The good news is that exercise is ONE of those steps, but you can’t out-train a bad diet. Your bad eating could be sabotaging the progress you would otherwise be making from your training. If you’re putting lots of time and effort into your training, can you afford to not make changes to your diet?
Now that you understand the problem, let’s talk about how you can finally lose the weight that’s been bothering you.
When trying to lose weight the single most important thing are Calories (or Kcals for short). Calories are a measure of energy. I like to use analogies when explaining Calories and the energy balance concept:
- Think of how many Calories in eat as your weekly spending, and the Calories you burn as your financial budget.
- If we consistently spend more than our budget, bad things happen (we put on bodyfat/become broke).
- By exercising and becoming more active we can increase our weekly budget a little, but the biggest savings will come from spending less money (consuming fewer Calories).
- It’s a lot easier to not spend money than it is to work extra hours/get a pay raise, right?
- Notice how I didn’t say ‘eat less’ I just said consume fewer Calories. Done correctly we shouldn’t feel like we are living like students again. We need to make some smart decisions, going back to our analogy it might be something like getting normal gas instead of premium gas; they do basically the same thing, but one is a lot more expensive.
When you ‘burn’ more Calories than you eat/drink it results in a ‘Calorie deficit’, if this is done consistently you WILL lose weight.
THIS IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF WEIGHT LOSS.
Without consistently being in a Calorie-deficit, you will not lose weight. It is scientific fact.
To lose 1lb of body fat you will need to create a Calorie deficit of 3500Kcals. Equally, if you eat/drink 3500 Kcals more than you burn you will gain 1lb of body fat.
PROOF: In 1964, a group of researchers from California took a group of obese patients and put them on a reduced-Calorie liquid-diet. Every three to four weeks they changed the composition of the meals they were eating; during some periods they had a higher % of Carbs, during other periods they had a higher % of fat, and other periods they had a higher % of Protein. Regardless of the composition of the meal it contained the same number of Kcals.
The results: Consistent weight loss. The composition of the meal did not matter – total Kcals did. However, this study only had five participants, which is not ideal.
MORE PROOF: A study in 2009 used 811 participants and found that ‘Reduced-calorie diets result in clinically meaningful weight loss regardless of which macronutrients (Protein/Carbohydrates/Fats) they emphasize.’
- Jim is a 180lb male and we estimate that our pre-personal training ‘budget’ is 2500Kcals/day.
- Jim currently consumes 2700Kcals/day. This is what caused him to gain weight in the first place.
- Once Jim starts exercising and walking more his budget goes up to 2700Kcals/day.
- With some smart choices and portion awareness, Jim reduces his Calories consumed to 2200Kcals/day
- This results in a Calorie Deficit of 500Kcals/day. In a purely mathematical world, this would result in Jim losing 1lb of body weight per week = SUCCESS
One of the most effective ways to lose weight is to count Calories and make sure that you are consuming fewer Calories than you burn. If you can do this and stick to it, just keep at it consistently and you’ll make progress.
But, what about all the diets you see that don’t involve counting Calories such as Paleo, Low Fat, Low Carb etc.? They all seem to work for some people, how come? Let me explain.
- Low fat
- By restricting a food group, specifically one that includes a lot of foods that are high in Calories, you will consume fewer Calories overall in a day. For every gram of fat you consume, you take in 9 Kcals, this is more than Carbohydrates (4 Kcals per gram) or Protein (4 Kcals per gram). Overall, this results in a reduced Calorie intake.
- Low Carb
- By restricting a food group, specifically one that includes a lot of foods that are easy to overconsume, you will reduce the overall number of Calories you consume in a day. There is nothing magical about cutting out Carbs; both low-carb and low-fat diets work when the goal is to lose weight. By going low-carb, many people cut out the hyper-palatable foods (that’s fancy speak for easy to over-consume) that prevent them from making progress in their weight-loss journey. When people
- Ketogenic diet
- The Keto’ diet dictates removing almost all the carbs and some protein from your diet. You get the majority of your Calories from fat. This results in your brain using less sugar for fuel and uses ketone bodies instead (you don’t need to know what these are). There seem to be some real benefits for some special populations (such as those whom suffer from epilepsy), and it may increase feelings of fullness in some individuals but for the average Joe and Jane it simply removes Calories from the diet by the restriction of a food group.
- Paleo is a diet that follows, supposedly, what our ancestors ate a very long time ago. If it didn’t fall off a tree or come from an animal, you can’t eat it. This cuts out a LOT of food groups (thus, reducing overall Calories).
- By taking this approach you will cut out a lot of foods that are high in Calories and low in Nutrients. Think of some foods that are easy to over-consume and low in nutrients. My list includes: Pizza, chocolate, donuts, candy, cookies, and sodas. If you cut out a lot of these hyper-palatable foods, then you will likely lose weight. However, depending on which food groups you remove you may also miss out of some key food groups such as Dairy.
- Vegan diets are debated a LOT. There is evidence to suggest that using a plant-based can be healthier than an animal-based diet, however, this is observational data (it’s a correlation, not a causation). If we were to take two similar groups of people and put one on a plant-only diet and the other on a Calorie-matched diet where they consumed plant and animal products, they would see similar weight loss. There is nothing magical about eating only plants, but it does tend to cut out a lot of highly processed foods that make it difficult to lose weight if consumed on a regular basis as well as adding lots of nutrients that come plant-based foods. With a Vegan diet, it’s important to try to obtain the vitamins & mineral that are easier to consume in animal products such as Iron, as well as consuming enough protein.
- Intermittent fasting
- Intermittent Fasting (I.F. for short) is a dieting strategy where you restrict when you can eat food (not what you eat). A common example is the 16/8 diet. This diet only allows you to eat for 8 hours a day (e.g. from 7am – 3pm or 12pm – 8pm). It works on the premise that you will find it difficult to overconsume food if you can only eat for a certain amount of time. It takes a lot of the thinking out of dieting and, providing you can learn how to deal with briefly feeling hungry, it’s a great option.
- Alternate day fasting
- This concept is like I.F. but instead of looking at each day it looks at the whole week. You may have four days a week where you eat normally and three days a week where you purposefully reduce your food intake. It can make a diet feel much less oppressive when you eat normally more often than you diet.
- Consuming more energy than you burn will lead to weight gain.
- Consuming roughly the same amount of energy that you burn will result in weight staying the same.
- Consuming less energy than you burn will result in weight loss.
- You need to create an energy deficit, over time, to lose weight.
- To lose 1lb of body fat, you need to create an energy deficit of 3500Kcals.
What did we learn?
Today, we looked at the science explaining how weight loss actually works, the principals behind how diets work (by consistently reducing Kcals, leading to Calorie deficit).
If you learned something today, or have a question, please leave a comment below.
– Coach Alex
- Mac-Nutrition University (Paid-for resource)
- http://physiqonomics.com/fat-loss/ (contains explicit language)