How many times have you been on a diet? I would imagine some of us can’t even count the number of times they’ve been on one. For some, it constantly seems like they’re on one, trying anything that they heard works for quick weight loss. So, why is this the case?
One reason that most are guilty of when it comes to trying to lose weight is that they aren’t eating enough calories. Doesn’t eating less calories always equate to losing more body fat? No. Cutting calories isn’t the end all be all answer to weight loss. Restrictive low calorie diets can cause your BMR (basal metabolic rate) to drop as much as 30%. With a drop in your BMR, your body isn’t able to burn as many calories. A decrease in your BMR equates to a decrease in the amount of calories you burn in a day, lowering your body’s ability to burn fat. With the next diet comes another reduction in calories, and your metabolism slows down even more. You can’t lose body fat very effectively with a slow metabolism. Stop the endless cycle of dieting – get off the diet roller coaster and get on the right track with your eating.
Basal Metabolic Rate – It’s very important to understand what this means and its relationship to dieting and weight loss efforts.
BMR, in simple terms, it’s the amount of calories needed when your body is at complete rest, for functions your body does to stay alive – like breathing, digestion, and the pumping of blood throughout your body. Think of a car idling and not going anywhere. This is what your BMR is like, or your body’s minimal needs of calories are, at rest. A general guideline to determine your BMR is the following: women multiply your weight x 10; men multiply your weight by 11. For example, a 150 pound woman would have a BMR of 1500 calories (150 lbs x 10). Note – this is a quick guideline only, and other formulas and tests can be used to more accurately determine your exact calorie needs.
Like cars, we aren’t just idling all day and not going anywhere.
We’re typically up and about, cleaning, chasing after kids, going to work, etc. In addition to that, we’re exercising (I hope). Whether its yoga or a boot camp class, a walk, swims, jog, or bike ride – its extra calories burned. Your maintenance level of calories is the amount of calories you can eat without gaining or losing weight – it’s your BMR plus activity calories. A very active person or athlete can have a maintenance level of calories in the thousands.
In order to lose weight, you must have a calorie deficit below your maintenance level.
The crucial factor is that you don’t fall below your BMR calorie level. You want to eat fewer calories than your maintenance level, but not so low where they fall below your BMR. There are 3500 calories in a pound of fat. If you eat 3500 calories less (or burn 3500 calories through exercise) over the course of a week, you should lose 1 pound. With a 7000 calorie deficit you should lose 2 pounds. Ideally this calorie deficit should come from a combination of calories burned through exercise and a dietary reduction in caloric intake, and not just through exercise or diet alone.
Studies have shown that you can lose up to 50% more fat through a combination of diet and exercise versus just dieting or exercise alone.
For safe and effective weight loss, experts suggest to lose weight at a rate of 1-2 pounds a week. It’s essential to have a healthy balance of lean proteins, quality complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and essential fats in your diet. A diet high in sugar, although lower in calories, will block fat loss efforts. Eating the proper amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fat for your body will allow for optimal fat loss. Starving yourself when trying to lose body fat isn’t the answer.