Today I want to take a few minutes to talk about how to lose weight. The formula is very simple burn more calories than you take in. That’s it.
However, if it was just that simple, we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic on our hands, would we?
You see, reducing calories does work to help lose weight, and many diets are based around this simple fact. Most of them add a lot of extra window dressing to their programs so they can sell more books, but if you’re burning more calories than you take in, you’ll lose weight.
However, as many people can attest to, just reducing your calories loses its effectiveness over time. You see, your body is smart. If it thinks that you’re trying to starve it, it’s not going to use as many calories. You see, way back before we had cell phones, TVs, and even the wheel, having three square meals a day wasn’t a certainty. In fact, some days our ancestors would have to go without eating, and sometimes it was many days at a time.
To keep our bodies from withering away into nothing, our metabolisms reacted by burning fewer calories each day. In this way, we can go survive for a prolonged period of time with no or limited amounts of food (as long as water is available). So while the eat nothing method of weight loss, may seem like it be the quickest method to lose weight, that isn’t the case.
What ultimately happens is that when you start eating again, you may weight less, but you’ll actually have a higher ratio of fat to muscle than when you started, and that’s not a good thing. To make matters worse, since your metabolism has been slowed, if you go back to eating normally, you’ll gain any weight you lost back quickly since your body just doesn’t use as many calories as it used to it will adapt back, but that will take some time and in the meantime you’ll be gaining the weight your so desperately tried to lose back.
Fortunately most diets don’t require that you stop eating, so you metabolism won’t come to a screeching halt. However, your body will eventually adapt to even small reductions in calories. For example, say you’re reducing your calorie intake by 500 calories a day. Based on that, you should burn up about 3500 extra calories a week, resulting in about a pound of weight loss a week (1 lb of fat = 3600 calories). And at first you will.
But sooner or later your body will adapt and start to function off those 500 calories and your weight loss will again come to a halt.
At this point, most people simply reduce their calories even further, and the weight loss starts again.
However, as you’ve probably already figured out, this reducing of calories can become a viscous downward spiral especially if you have a lot of weight to lose. There are only so many calories you can cut out of your diet, and the more calories you cut out, the more likely you are to have nutritional deficiencies since you’re get as many nutrients from food since you’re eating so much less of it.
Are you depressed yet?
Fortunately, there is a simple solution it’s called exercise. And any weight loss program worth anything will have you exercising. If a weight loss program doesn’t call for exercise, it’s setting you up for a lifetime of yo-yo dieting.
Here’s what exercise will do for you:
Exercise raises your metabolism. Yes, that’s right, exercising will give your metabolism a boost.
Exercising burns calories.
But important to say anyway. So when you’re planning your diet, make sure you plan time for exercise. How often? Well, it’d be irresponsible for me to give advice without knowing what kind of shape you’re currently in, but most people can get away with exercising six days a week. Some people, myself included, will exercise everyday.
So if you want a simple guide to losing weight, here it is:
- Reduce your calories. 500 calories is usually a good number.
- Exercise several times a week for at least 20 minutes 40 minutes is better. (if you burn 500 calories with your workouts everyday, that’s another pound a week you can lose)
That’s it. There’s more that you can do to lose weight than just those two things, and I’ll be providing more details about more advanced weight loss concepts in the future, but those two things right there can help you get started losing weight right now.
Note: If you want to lose fat, and not muscle (and who wants to lose muscle?), then it’s important that you don’t try to lose more than 2lbs/week. Your body can only use so much fat each week, so don’t fall for ridiculous sales gimmicks that promise you can lose 10lbs in one weekend. If you do manage to lose that weight, it’s going to be water weight, which you’ll gain back just as quickly as you lost it.