I see lots of people pontificating about some new wondrous diet or other and how they have lost endless weight by following them. There are some seriously strange ones that are popular at the moment too.
I also see endless people hopping from faddy diet to plain weird diet and failing to lose any weight at all. Or more often, losing a bit, then putting it all back on again and again.
Here is the secret.….
If you are over-weight and you want to weigh less, eat less food and burn more calories.
It is actually that simple.
Your body needs food in order to function, but if you over-feed it, then it turns the excess food into fat and stores it for use later.
If you consistently over-feed your body, you will continue to add to the fat stores.
When you move around, when you heart beats, when you are awake, when you are asleep, your body uses energy. If there is not enough food available to burn, then those reserves of fat are raided.
Again though, if there is more food available than you need, then the excess is added to the fat stores.
Depending on how old you are, what sex you are, how much you weigh and how active you are on a daily basis, your body will burn a reasonably calculable amount of calories.
For example, At my age, given my relatively sedentary lifestyle and my current weight, I need around 2500kcals per day on average to maintain my weight. Because every day is different, it is probably better to target a weekly number – 17,500kcals per week is a more realistic way of expressing it.
If I want to lose weight, I simply need to eat less calories. If I want to lose, say, a pound per week, then I need to eat approximately 3500kcals per week less than I need. This will force my body to use its fat reserves.
If I want to lose two pounds, then I need to eat approximately 7000kcals per week less than I need.
There is however an alternative.
I could simply continue to eat normally and move around more. This increases my requirements, so once more I am in a deficit.
So I could continue to eat 2500kcals each day, but also burn, say, 500kcals each day through cardio/aerobic exercise and magically the sums add up to me having a weekly deficit of 3500kcals, which just happens to mean that I will lose about a pound each week.
There is a problem though.
Because my daily requirement is based on my current weight due to the not exactly rocket-science revolution that the more you weigh, the more energy you burn just moving around……
After a while I will stop losing weight, because I weigh less, I burn less, so I need to figure out my new daily intake and burn more or eat less.
My sister Ruth is starting a new diet, it is called the 5:2 diet. The idea is simple, you eat ‘normally’ for five days, then you simply eat nothing for two days. You are permitted to drink green tea and water on those days only.
This will obviously work.
The reason that it works is simple math.
Lets take my example of needing 2500kcals / day and assume that, magically, I am eating that.
In a normal week I would eat 17,500kcals,
….and my weight would stay the same.
On the 5:2 diet I would eat 12,500kcals on the five normal days and ZERO on the other two.
That would mean that I would cut my weekly consumption by about 5000kcals, which would mean that my body would pull that energy from fat and I would lose around 1.5lbs per week.
I think that this is an exceptionally stupid idea.
The problem is that after two days of fasting, the temptation to eat twenty-six bacon sandwiches for breakfast, followed by a double-cheese-burger and large fries for lunch and pie and chips for dinner would simply be overwhelming. My first day back would be a 10,000kcal day. Or more
I feel that it is a whole lot better to eat a little less every day. Smaller portions, lower fat options, heck, count those calories.
And move more.
Moving more is easy, even if you do not go to a gym, or bootcamp or own a bicycle or have time.
Here are a few ideas…….
But you must exercise to at least a 7-8 on the Perceived Exertion scale
Step-ups on actual stairs.
Step up onto first stair, Right up Left up, Jump back down, Left up, Right up, jump back down…..
Repeat for ten minute or so – if you can still function after ten minutes, you did not try hard enough, go back and do it again faster….
Congratulations, you just burned about 100kcals.
Ten squats, ten times a day sqats can kill up to about 80kcals
Lunges – do twenty, ten times a day
Sit-ups – do twenty, ten times a day
Crunchs – guess what ten minutes of intense crunches will put you close to burning 100kcals
Jumping Jacks – ten minutes will burn another 80 or so.
There you go, that is 4-500kcals. or so in about an hour spread throughout the day.
So you could do that and eat normally and drop about a pound a week.
If you are doing this and you are still not losing weight, then I am sorry, but you are eating too much given your current activity level.
Remember, to lose weight, burn more than you eat.
That is the secret……
*Image from my co-worker Susan who lives and nearly dies the mantra every, single, day…..