Nutrition and weight loss can be a little tricky sometimes. If you have big weight loss goals in mind it's important that you are aware of what your food intake is like and how much movement you get in each day. A large part of losing weight comes from what your nutrition is like because you can't out work a cruddy diet.
Sidenote: exercise is still very important!
But moving right along...
The Science-y Stuff
The main thing for losing weight is that you want to be in a caloric deficit which will be different for everyone and here's why:
There are a certain amount of calories you burn each day just being alive- heart beating, breathing, digestion- all of this is called your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). This could be 1500 calories per day for one person and 2000 calories per day for another person, it's based on things like genetics, gender, age, and body weight.
When you add in things like eating (yes eating increases your metabolism!), activities of daily living (ADL's), and purposeful exercise this number will go up because you're using more energy in addition to the energy you use just to stay alive.
For example, if your RMR is 1500 calories and you add eating, ADL's, and exercise that brings it up another 500 calories. Consequently, the amount of energy needed to keep you alive and functioning as a normal human being will be about 2000 calories per day.
As I mentioned earlier RMR factors in body weight, meaning a certain amount of calories is needed to maintain your weight in addition to your heart beating and all of that. So, that 2000 calories is maintaining your 150 lbs of body weight along with your ADL's and being alive.
If you want to lose weight, you'll want to decrease your caloric intake to 1900, for example, which will cause your body to use stored energy to make up for the 100 calories you aren't taking in to maintain you being alive and moving around at 150 lbs.
So, over time, you start to lose pounds. (Something to keep in mind is that there's also water loss and there can be muscle loss if you don't take in enough protein.)
All of that stuff above was just a lot of... stuff, amiright?? It doesn't have to be real complicated though so let's break it down a bit.
Here are 6 steps to help you lose weight:
1. Track your nutrition without making any changes so you know where you stand. How many calories are you eating on average? How many of your calories are from proteins, fats, and carbs?
2. Find out what your unique caloric deficit is. There are calculations that you can do to estimate what it would be, but it would be easier to use something like MyFitnessPal (and/or invest in a fitness coach😊) to do the figuring for you. It would take being in a lab under very strict settings to find an exact number, but an estimate is close enough. How active your lifestyle is will factor in here, so if you exercise very little or not at all your calorie intake will need to be lower whereas if you workout at the gym 5 days a week and run every morning your calorie intake will be much higher.
3. Set a calorie goal and work on meeting it every single day-keeping a special eye on protein. You need to take in, at minimum, 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. So if you weigh 150 lbs (or 68 kg) at minimum you need 55 grams of protein a day. Protein will help you feel full longer so you will eat less while also boosting your metabolism because the body has to work to digest and assimilate it. You also will hold on to your lean tissue because it will have a constant supply of protein whereas the body fat will be used for energy.
4. Observe your progress to see if you are losing weight and feeling well. If you're not losing weight you may need to adjust your calorie intake. If you are losing weight, but you don't feel great you might be losing weight too quickly and need to up your calories a bit. (It could also be the specific foods you're eating, but that's a whole other post.) A healthy amount of weight loss is around 1-2 lbs per week. Sometimes, in the beginning, it will come off faster because of water loss, but you shouldn't be losing 10 pounds a week or something extreme.
5. Continue to eat foods that you like! Just make sure you eat them in moderation. Trying to lose weight doesn't mean you can never eat a cookie again, you just have to make sure it fits in your calorie goal. Also, don't try to change too much at once. If you really like to drink Mountain Dew and you go through a 2 liter a day just try reducing it to 1 liter a day, to start, so that it's not overwhelming or doesn't make you feel too restricted.
6. Be purposeful in your food choices. If you want to lose weight and also have a beer or eat a piece of pie you have to be intentional about how you handle your nutrition each day. This could be done by eating a smaller breakfast if you know you want to have a beer with dinner. You can also have a high protein lunch with lower carbs to save room for the pie at dinner. This can be tough to do at first, but the more often you do it (and with the help of a coach *shameless plug*) it becomes much more manageable.
This can seem overwhelming at first, but just take it one step at a time, observe your progress, and make modifications as necessary. If you have any questions or would like some help with achieving your weight loss goals shoot me a message at email@example.com!