Okay, I am going to give you 7 crucial steps you need to take to achieve weight loss. I will post one every day for the next seven days. Here’s step number one.
Food Intake – How much do you need?
First of all, you need to understand that in order to begin losing weight you must consume fewer calories than your body burns in a period of a day. The bottom line is, regardless of the confusion brought on by the media and industry, calories still count!
Your body weight is largely a product of total daily caloric intake minus total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). So, to lose weight, your daily food consumption measured in calories must be less than TDEE. In other words a deficit in calories must be created to trigger a reduction in body weight. Although this is a simple concept, it’s not easily accomplished. And statistics prove it: approximately 50% of Americans are obese and two thirds of Americans are borderline obese.
It doesn’t have to be that way, however. People need to be educated with respect to health, nutrition and weight loss maintenance. Knowledge is what we need. Knowledge is power, and with power comes change.
One simple guideline for losing weight is to adjust your daily caloric intake to equal ten times your weight in pounds. For example if you weigh 180 lbs. your total daily food intake should equal 1800 calories. This would create a sufficient deficit in calories for gradual weight loss. This method will not work, however, for people who are extremely obese.
Another efficient method of losing weight at a reasonably comfortable pace (for any person) is to reduce your total daily food intake by 500 calories. One pound equals 3500 calories and at the rate of 500 calories per day, it translates to 1 pound of weight loss per week. This is a sensible, realistic weight loss pace and more likely to succeed in the long term. On the other hand, diet programs based on more extreme calorie restriction are very stressful physically and mentally, which is why they result in quick but temporary weight reduction. Not to mention the high cost of many weight loss plans that include pre packaged food, unnecessary meal replacements, supplements and so on.
A more accurate method to figure out how many calories you actually need (to maintain your weight) is to take your body weight and multiply it by 11. Say you weigh 160 pounds and you are completely sedentary.
160 x 11 = 1760 (calories). So you would need 1760 calories if you sat around all day with very minimal movement to remain at 160 pounds.
Now to go a step further, we have to determine your metabolic factor. There are 3 main categories for metabolism. Slow metabolism is when you have a very difficult time losing weight. Medium metabolism means you don’t have difficulty losing weight - if you really try. And Fast metabolism is when it seems no matter how much you eat you can’t gain weight. Don’t I wish I had that problem. See the table below.
Slow Metabolism (%)
Under 30 Years of Age - 30%
Between 30-40 Years of Age - 25%
Over 40 Years of Age - 20%
Medium Metabolism (%)
Under 30 Years of Age - 40%
Between 30-40 Years of Age - 35%
Over 40 Years of Age - 30%
Fast Metabolism (%)
Under 30 Years of Age - 50%
Between 30-40 Years of Age – 45%
Over 40 Years of Age - 40%
Let’s continue with the above example (1760 cal.) and let’s say you’re 35 years old and have a slow metabolism. The corresponding metabolic rate factor would be 25%. 1760 x 25% = 440 calories – which means you would need an additional 440 calories. Your total daily calories would therefore equal 2200 (1760 + 440). In other words, you would require 2200 calories per day to maintain your present weight.
Now to lose weight at a comfortable pace (as mentioned above), subtract 500 calories from this total. That would equal 1700 calories (2200 – 500). Consequently, in order to lose one pound per week you would require 1700 daily calories from food. The next step would be to keep track of all your calories. To do that you will need to know the calorie content of the foods you eat. A calorie counter or calculator is where you enter the type of food product, the amount (in grams or ounces) and it calculates the calorie content for you. You can find them at many websites online for free. One that I found to work fairly well, which also contains a huge selection of foods including items from fast food restaurant chains, is at http://www.caloriesperhour.com.
To increase your rate of weight loss even further you can raise your exercise level. One way to accomplish this is by participating in a program of regular physical activity or if you already are, simply increase the exercise intensity level. Steps 6 and 7 in this series will cover physical activity and weight loss.