Losing weight can be a long and frustrating process, but if it is done right, the process can be enjoyable and the results surprising. Consistency and patients are key when it comes to losing weight, however, in today’s world, there is just so much information and conflicting dietary advice that this can sometimes cause people to be misled and throw them off their goals.
We have all heard of that 5-minute abs workout that’s guaranteed to get you ripped in no time, but the truth is; there is no easy way or quick fix to achieve a body that you’re going to be proud of. At the end of the day, it takes a lot of hard work and all of the above. There are a lot of major misconceptions around diet like; ‘you need to cut out carbs to lose weight, or that ‘eating fat causes you to gain fat’, or even ‘eating past 6 pm will make you store fat. All of these things that we see and hear around us, as a result of social media and marketing strategies are a major cause of the difficulties we go through when it comes to losing weight. With the right information and mindset you will realize it’s not actually that hard, so let’s clear up a few things…
Calories in vs calories out
Weight loss is ultimately determined by the amount of food, measured in calories, that your body is taking in compared to the number of calories it is burning. This concept is simply referred to as ‘calories in’ vs ‘calories out’. Reducing your carbohydrate intake to 0, eating twice a day, or not eating past 6 pm will not induce weight loss if your calories are simply not less than the amount your body is expending. Therefore, you do not have to suffer and cut out the foods that you love to lose that weight, you just simply need to be in a calorie deficit. Now, having said this, having a diet that is comprised of chocolate and cake would just be defeating the object. Foods high in salt, sugar, and saturated fats will soon have a negative effect on your body while eating a balanced diet with a few treats here and there will not be detrimental to your weight loss.
Now there is a bit more to it. Caloric needs are often different for everyone and many things can determine your body’s energy requirements. Gender, body composition, age, daily activity, and genetics all play a key role in this, which determines an individual’s metabolic rate. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is your body’s baseline energy requirements to sustain optimal function and weight. In order to induce successful weight loss and therefore fat loss, you must create a small deficit of around 300-500 calories below your BMR. Now there are a number of ways to calculate your BMR, e.g. by just googling ‘calorie calculator’, however, an online calorie calculator may not always be completely accurate. An alternative would be to count your current calorie intake and levels of activity and monitor your weight and visual appearance. Based on this, you can manipulate your calories to induce gradual weight loss.
Lastly; exercise. Exercise is one of the key tools to aid you in your weight loss journey and is essential to your overall health. When you exercise your body uses its energy stores, such as stored fat as fuel, thus if you are already in a deficit or eating at your BMR, extra exercise will actually help you to lose weight. Surprisingly many people do not actually know where fat goes when it is burnt off. ‘Fat is converted into carbon dioxide and water, which is then expelled by the body. Therefore, we exhale, sweat, and urinate our weight loss. Consequently, more exercise will result in more breathing and sweating, and not just breathing a lot more and sitting in a sauna will not make you lose weight, you need to get your muscles moving!