1. Food Intake – How much do you need?
First of all, you need to understand that in order to begin losing weight you must consume fewer calories than your body burns in a period of a day. The bottom line is, regardless of the confusion brought on by the media and industry, calories still count!
Your body weight is largely a product of total daily caloric intake minus total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). So, to lose weight, your daily food consumption measured in calories must be less than TDEE. In other words a deficit in calories must be created to trigger a reduction in body weight. Although this is a simple concept, it’s not easily accomplished. And statistics prove it: approximately 50% of Americans are obese and two thirds of Americans are borderline obese.
It doesn’t have to be that way, however. People need to be educated with respect to health, nutrition and weight loss maintenance. Knowledge is what we need. Knowledge is power, and with power comes change.
One simple guideline for losing weight is to adjust your daily caloric intake to equal ten times your weight in pounds. For example if you weigh 180 lbs. your total daily food intake should equal 1800 calories. This would create a sufficient deficit in calories for gradual weight loss. This method will not work, however, for people who are extremely obese.
Another efficient method of losing weight at a reasonably comfortable pace (for any person) is to reduce your total daily food intake by 500 calories. One pound equals 3500 calories and at the rate of 500 calories per day, it translates to 1 pound of weight loss per week. This is a sensible, realistic weight loss pace and more likely to succeed in the long term. On the other hand, diet programs based on more extreme calorie restriction are very stressful physically and mentally, which is why they result in quick but temporary weight reduction. Not to mention the high cost of many weight loss plans that include pre packaged food, unnecessary meal replacements, supplements and so on.
A more accurate method to figure out how many calories you actually need (to maintain your weight) is to take your body weight and multiply it by 11. Say you weigh 160 pounds and you are completely sedentary.
160 x 11 = 1760 (calories). So you would need 1760 calories if you sat around all day with very minimal movement to remain at 160 pounds.
Now to go a step further, we have to determine your metabolic factor. There are 3 main categories for metabolism. Slow metabolism is when you have a very difficult time losing weight. Medium metabolism means you don’t have difficulty losing weight – if you really try. And Fast metabolism is when it seems no matter how much you eat you can’t gain weight. Don’t I wish I had that problem. See the table below.
Slow Metabolism (%)
Under 30 Years of Age – 30%
Between 30-40 Years of Age – 25%
Over 40 Years of Age – 20%
Medium Metabolism (%)
Under 30 Years of Age – 40%
Between 30-40 Years of Age – 35%
Over 40 Years of Age – 30%
Fast Metabolism (%)
Under 30 Years of Age – 50%
Between 30-40 Years of Age – 45%
Over 40 Years of Age – 40%
Let’s continue with the above example (1760 cal.) and let’s say you’re 35 years old and have a slow metabolism. The corresponding metabolic rate factor would be 25%. 1760 x 25% = 440 calories – which means you would need an additional 440 calories. Your total daily calories would therefore equal 2200 (1760 + 440). In other words, you would require 2200 calories per day to maintain your present weight.
To increase your rate of weight loss even further you can raise your exercise level. One way to accomplish this is by participating in a program of regular physical activity or if you already are, simply increase the exercise intensity level. See tip number 6 and 7 in this article for more information on physical activity and weight loss.
2. Diet Composition
Your diet must consist of foods from all food groups (e.g. meat, dairy, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts/seeds, legumes). If you’re a vegetarian, you can still get sufficient amounts Carbofix of protein from legumes, soy bean products and whole grains. In a French study, evidence suggested that diet variety was one of the reasons French people were less obese and had fewer occurrences of heart disease than Americans. Another important factor was the diversity in their diet. Overall, the French diet contained more foods from all food groups and consisted of more types of food and food products compared to the American diet. (1)
Furthermore, the French seemed to enjoy their food more. Their meals were like special gatherings, celebrations, meant to be enjoyed by all. They typically didn’t eat very fast. They seemed to enjoy their food more; it’s as if time stood still during their meals. This method of eating accomplishes several things. For one, eating slower and being more relaxed during meals increases chewing time. In addition, by slowing down the pace of a meal and chewing more, you are more likely to get a feeling of fullness while eating less quantities of food. In contrast, North Americans, very often eat on the run.
The other benefit of the French eating style is that it aids the digestive process by reducing workload and improving the efficiency of nutrient distribution throughout the body. An increase in food variety and diversity decreases the percentage of bad foods (saturated/trans fats, unrefined carbohydrates) present in your digestive system. Moreover, increased fiber content from fresh foods (fruits vegetables and whole grains) also sweeps up and pushes out bad foods quicker, leaving them less time to be absorbed by the intestines and therefore becoming less harmful. As a result risks of developing chronic diseases, such as various forms of cancer and heart related diseases are also reduced. (2)
3. Quantity and Frequency of Meals
Does the size and quantity of your meals really matter? You’ve probably heard many times over that it’s best to have smaller more frequent meals throughout the day. In other words snacking is preferable to gorging. Is this fact or fiction? Well, the fact of the matter is that scientific research with respect to this area of study has been largely contradicting. There really is no overwhelming evidence to support the idea that increased frequency and decreased portion size of meals is associated with weight loss efficiency. This eating method, however, has been shown to benefit athletic performance in trained athletes. (3)
A study with ice skaters suggested that meals taken throughout the day to correspond with periods of physical demand associated with training, help to maximize performance. Keep in mind that improving athletic performance in athletes is one thing, but increasing the rate of weight loss is something quite different. Although, when taken to extremes, it is probably better to eat 8-10 smaller meals per day than 1 large one for example.
As it turns out, the customary three meals a day method is just fine. There just hasn’t been enough convincing evidence to prove that it has a negative effect on weight loss. Eating 5-6 meals a day is also fine. Changing to a more frequent eating style, however, may cause you to over eat, if you’re not careful, especially at the beginning. This is because, subconsciously, you’re used to having larger food portions at meal time. So, it’s important to keep track of the food quantity of every meal, until you get accustomed to the new way of eating.