Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The True Science of Weight Loss

News Flash: You may be eating more calories than you're burning (and if you're trying to lose weight, that's a bad thing!)

What if the amount of food or the choices you put in your mouth could be scientifically tracked, calculated, and make your weight loss the EASIEST NO-BRAINER you've done all year?

No - this is no 'magic pill' advertisement or 4-easy-payments exercise equipment commercial. We're talking about math.

Ugh, right? Who wants to read an article about math! YOU DO!

Wouldn't you rather endure a little math upfront to know exactly how many specific calories your body needs to take in from fat, protein, and carbs to ensure maximum weight loss without any "magic pills", starvation plans, and it all be tailored just for your specific body?

Get a pencil and paper handy, cuz you're about to find out exactly how to do it!

...Or maybe you enjoy fretting about the scale, laying down to button your jeans, or wondering if the entire restaurant is talking about what you're eating behind your back! Of course you don't!

Let's take a look at how much you should be eating!

Warning! Math Alert! I took Math 100 twice in college (that's the most basic, Math-for-Dummies level you can take and I took it twice because I hate math so much and never went to class). Needless to say, I'll accept all praise in advance for figuring out the hard stuff for you!

First, we'll determine the number of calories you need to consume in a day just to live (note the different equation for men and women).

To do this, we need to convert your weight from pounds to kilograms and your height from inches to centimeters:

Take your current weight in pounds, divide it by 2.2, and that's your weight in kilograms. For example, a 150 pound woman would look like this:

150/ 2.2 = 16.181kg

Next, the height conversion. Take your height in inches, and multiply it by 2.54 to find your height in centimeters. Our 150 pound woman is 5'5", that's 60 inches total. She'd look like this:

60 x 2.54 = 152.4cm

Now, let's find how many calories you must consume in a day just to stay alive (Source: What Does Your Doctor Look Like Naked by Dr. Warren Willey):

Male: 66.5+ (13.75 x W) + (5.003 x H) - (6.775 x A) Female: 65.1+ (9.563 x W) + (1.850 x H) - (4.676 x A) W = actual weight in kg H = actual height in cm A = age in years

This gives you the amount of calories you need just to live. That doesn't include the burning of calories during your workout, or tell you how much to eat at each meal! There's a little bit more math to go! Stay with me!

Next, we need to figure out how many calories you burn while lifting weights (and regardless of whether you're a man or woman, if you want the best, healthiest, and most enjoyable way to sculpt your body like Adonis - you should be lifting weights):

.086 (weight lifting variable) x your weight in kilograms x the number of minutes you spend in the gym = the number of calories burned during exercise

So if you're 150 pound person who spends an hour in the gym, the equation looks like this (remember to use the pounds to kilogram conversion above for your weight):

.086 x 16.181 x60 = 352 calories burned

If a pound of fat weighs 3500 calories, you'll need to burn an average of between 3500 - 7000 calories a week to average a 1-2 pound weight loss (the safest amount of weight to lose per week if you want to be healthy!)

That means you need to burn 500 calories a day, on average. You can see we're burning 352 of them in our gym example, so we'll only need to subtract 148 calories from our daily intake in order to meet that goal!

Let's recap real quick:

Take the first formula to find out how many calories you need to live. Then figure out how much you burn in the gym each day. Next find the difference between how much you need to burn each day and what you're actually burning. Finally, alter the figure from your daily caloric intake to match that number.

It's not magic. It's not rocket science. It's simply knowing what goes in and what shouldn't, right?

Are we done with math yet?

Is your head swimming from all the numbers? We're almost done!

Next, we're going to divide up the allotted calories in your day into the three main sections you should be tracking: protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

We're going by the 40/40/20 rule, which means 40% of your calories will come from protein, 40% of your calories will come from carbohydrates, and 20% of your calories will come from fat. This ensures you'll have a proper balance of everything your body needs to shed the weight (and keep it off!)

So, if your daily caloric intake (which we got from that slightly painful formula above) is 1500, you'd divide 1500 by .4 to find how much protein and carbohydrates you'll eat in a day. You'll divide the same 1500 calories by .2 to find out how much fat you'll eat in a day:

1500/.4= 600 calories of your daily intake will be protein 1500/.4= 600 calories of your daily intake will be carbohydrates 1500/.2= 300 calories of your daily intake will be from fat

(Make certain you do these calculations with the actual numbers you came up with earlier!)

Now, just a little more math, and the pain will be over with!  There are 4 calories per gram of both carbohydrates and protein. So we'll divide the number of calories you'll take in today from protein by 4 to see how many grams of protein you'll need to eat:

For our example above, that's 600 (calories) divided by 4 (calories per gram of protein) = 150 grams of protein per day.

The same will hold true for carbohydrates, meaning you'll do the same calculation and have 150 grams of carbohydrates per day.

Finally, there's fat. This stuff has 9 calories per gram of it, so naturally, you'll have less fat in your diet than you will protein or carbs, right? 300 (the number of calories from fat in our example above) divided by 9 (calories per gram of fat) = 33.33 grams of fat per day

What Next, Dr. KnowItAll? Having this information at your disposal is only as good as you make it. What you choose to do with it determines whether you keep the spare tire or lose it for good.

Step 1: Get a food journal. Even a cheap notebook from your local Shop-o-Mart would suffice. Log every single thing you put in your mouth, all the way down to the amount (either in grams or ounces).

Step 2: Log on. Choose a reliable source to get your caloric values from. If you can't write them down from the ingredient list and nutrition guide on the side of the container you're eating from, then use the power of the internet to find out just how much you've eaten. This author prefers CalorieKing.com.

Step 3: Track your results. Use your food journal to track exactly how much you've eaten in each category: calories, protein, carbs, and fat. You'll be able to accurately predict what the scale should say the following week better than the weatherman can tell you the daily forecast!

The most important step in all of this is to be honest. Eating a bag of potato chips when no one else is looking or scarfing down a piece of cake that no one else will ever know about still counts against your daily caloric intake.

Remember, those abs you see in the magazines were made in the kitchen, not the weight room! You wanna wear a single-digit dress or pant size, you gotta do the math first!

Rachel D. Young is a certified Fitness Trainer and author of What If You Were Thin?, the true story of how she lost 80 pounds without pills, surgery, or a personal trainer. This course is chocked full of easy-to-follow material designed to get you off Jenny Craig, leave Weight Watchers behind, and learn how to shop, eat, and live in the Real World! Learn more about her at www.WhatIfYouWereThin.com! To your health and success, Rachel D. Young

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