This rule is the foundation of any weight loss plan. You’ll lose weight if you only follow this rule, pinky promise.
Complicating things is a part of human nature. Weight loss industry is an excellent example – nutritionists keep reinventing the wheel over and over. They come up with popular crash diets and detox cleanses in the blink of an eye. Yes, many of those diets make you lose a few pounds due to the main weight loss rule I’m going to tell you about below. If you need to lose a few of pounds before a birthday party, wedding, or photoshoot, crash diets may actually be an effective solution. However, in a long run, the strategies of The Military Diet, The Cabbage Soup Diet, The Grapefruit Diet, The Hollywood Diet and other crash diets are pretty bad due to the side effects.
SIDE EFFECTS THAT CRASH DIETS CAUSE
- Problem: weight regain + extra pounds pile back on.
- Solution: avoid putting your body in a starving mode (a big NO to crash diets) because it slows down a metabolic rate. As a result, when you return to a routine eating regimen, usual amount of food for you is now ‘too much’. Darn it! Calorie needs are lowered. It is that vicious cycle that traps crash diet fans resulting in gaining more and more weight after each diet.
- Problem: slowed down metabolism.
- Solution: while losing weight, caloric intake should be slightly reduced rather than dropped drastically.
- Problem: muscle loss.
- Solution: consuming enough protein (0.4g per pound) – so if you weigh 160 pounds, you need to consume at least 64g of protein per day. Also, weight training is needed to maintain your muscles.
Will you lose weight on crash diets? Well, probably. But the question is what kind of weight. Primarily it’s going to be water and muscle weight. We need to lose fat though, not just achieve temporary numbers on the scale.
Why won’t we use the main rule and design our weight loss strategy to maximize the effectiveness, while minimizing the flaws? As long as you follow this rule, you’ll be losing weight. Drum roll, please.
THERE MUST BE A CALORIE DEFICIT
Calorie Deficit. Duh, Queen Anne is dead, you say. But it is shocking how many people do not realize that this is the foundation of all diets, detoxes, and other new trends. There is no magic concept or combination of foods that makes you lose fat. It isn’t a miraculous 6 p.m. time that you stop eating after. It isn’t a grapefruit slice that you add to every meal. It is a calorie deficit, the set of rules that makes sure that you consume fewer calories than you spend. Simple science. It’s all about energy in and out. Why would you follow some set rules when you can be in charge and create a fully customized menu for yourself and get better results?
Consuming certain food combos, starving after 6 pm, drinking dozen cups of green coffee will never make you lose weight unless you are on a calorie deficit. However, if you are on a calorie deficit, you’ll lose weight even if you eat junk. Conclusion: all you need is a calorie deficit for weight loss to happen. But obviously, nobody canceled the benefits of clean eating – health comes first, so you should always strive to avoid junk and feed yourself some healthy stuff.
What is a calorie deficit? Calorie deficit is a condition when you spend more energy than you consume. Physics 101, yo.
HOW DO I CREATE A CALORIE DEFICIT?
Short answer: eat less calories than you need or burn more calories.
A good chunk of your energy (~65%) burned in a day is due to Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – it is the amount of energy your body uses for breathing, blood circulation, brain function, muscle contraction etc. It depends on such factors as sex, age, weight, height, genetics etc. The best part of BMR is that you have to do nothing to spend calories. Just keep existing.
Curious about how many calories your body needs to function? Check out your BMR using this calculator:
Now that you know your BMR, you need to find out how many calories your body spends per day in total considering various activities you perform during a day. The common way to find it out is by multiplying your BMR to a coefficient based on your level of activity:
- BMR x 1.2 for low intensity activities/desk job (sedentary)
- BMR x 1.375 for light exercise (1-3 days per week)
- BMR x 1.55 for moderate exercise (3-5 days per week)
- BMR x 1.725 for active individuals (exercising 6-7 days per week)
- BMR x 1.9 for the extremely active individuals (very hard exercise/sports/physical job/2x training)
The number you get is the estimate of how many calories your body burns per day. If you eat less than that, you’ll lose weight. If you eat around the same amount, you’ll maintain your weight. If you eat more than your body needs, it will convert extra calories into fat. 1 pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories.
WAYS TO BOOST YOUR METABOLISM
What if your body could burn more calories, so you’d be able to eat more without gaining weight? So, calories from that extra slice of pizza get spent on your body’s maintenance instead of making you look more fat. While you have no control over your genetics, you can increase your metabolism by other factors. Tips to increase your BMR:
- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – it boosts your metabolism for hours after you’ve completed workout.
- Build muscle – it burns extra calories at rest.
- Eat more protein – it takes more energy to digest.
- Choose fiber-rich carbs (beans, veggies, fruits) over refined carbs.
- Drink water. Lots of it.
If you understand the weight loss process from the inside, you will gain the lifetime knowledge and will never have to blindly follow some diets. Trying out effectiveness of different diets comes with a very high cost – your health. It will be clear that claims like “3 products that burn fat,” “lose 50 pounds in a week,” “5 veggies that kill stomach fat,” “Magic Drink to Reduce Belly Fat” are
straight off bullshit illiterate at best.
Want to lose weight? Calorie deficit is the answer. Amen.