Friday, January 11, 2013

Weight Loss and the Calorie Equation!

So here we are in the New Year and many people are “gung-ho” to start a weight loss program.  This blog is going to help you do just that, in a healthy and responsible way. 

The main problem I see with motivated people who want to shed extra pounds is that they go too extreme and it ends in self defeat.  Usually the problem begins with the calorie equation.  If you are at least twenty pounds overweight then chances are that you are currently eating between 500 to 1,000 more calories a day than your body needs to maintain an IDEAL body weight.  In women this could mean you are eating 2,500 calories per day and for men about 3,000 cal per day.  So the New Year hits and so does motivation and you decided to go on a calorie restricted diet.  Often times women try to eat under 1,200 calories a day and men try to shoot for 1,500 or less.  BIG MISTAKE!  For one, that is an extreme drop in the daily food intake you are use to.  Even with the best will power, after a week or two your body will rebel and you will go right back to wear you were before.  (Do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars).  So you attempted something that is not manageable and now just two weeks into January it’s all over. . .EXCEPT it isn’t over.  What you have done is a “crash” diet.   You may be done with the diet, but your body isn’t!  Extreme calorie restriction throws your body into what is called “fight or flight” mode.  It begins to hoard fat (as it fears famine) and starts to break down muscle tissue to create glycogen to feed itself.  SO….your body has now stopped burning calories at a normal pace which slows your metabolism by up to 40%!!!!!  Not only that, it is now “eating” lean muscle tissue.  Muscle is used to burn calories; the more you have the more calories you burn each day.  That makes for a higher metabolism.  BUT if you body is breaking down muscle to feed itself, you are lowering your metabolism.  If that wasn’t bad enough I want you to think about this.  Your heart is a muscle and your body with use the heart for fuel just like it will any other muscle group!  Many people who suffer from eating disorders die of a heart attack.  Why?  Because the extreme calorie restriction caused their body to “eat” its own heart (and other organs as well).

Okay now that I have you good and scared and ready to go eat a big bowl of Ben and Jerry’s let’s talk about HEALTHY weight loss.  How do you find the perfect calorie equation?  If you are a victim of crash diets (under 1,200 for women or 1,500 for men) then start by adding back in 150 calories per day.  Do this for a week and then add in another 150 (depending on how low you went to begin with).  This will keep your body from going into shock and hoarding calories. 

Next.  If you are a woman I want you to commit to 1,800 calories per day.  Do this for TWO WEEKS.  (Be sure to include at least 30 minutes of exercise 3 to 5 times per week).  If the two weeks ends and you have lost more than 4 pounds then try adding another 100 calories per day.  (Weight loss at a faster pace may be tempting in the beginning but will result in a crash in the end).  Now you are at 1,900.  In two weeks if you are losing 1-2 lbs a week then you have found your magic number.  IF after the first two weeks you have gained a pound or two then instead of adding calories you need to move down to about 1,500 cal per day.  Again, do this for two weeks and then check your weight (as stated above).  If you are a man then you will do the same thing, but you will start at 2,000 calories per day and check the results in two weeks.

Everyone’s body is different and this is one of the best ways to figure out what is best for you.  The goal is to be able to eat as many calories as possible while still losing weight.  Don’t be afraid of gaining one or two pounds that first two weeks.  It will be worth it to find the right balance that get’s you to a healthy weight and keep it off.  Be sure you keep an online food journal the entire time.  Don’t “guess” how much you are eating.  For this to work it must be scientific.  Good Luck!