Losing weight

I'm not sure if it's really a common myth or if it's just my imagination, but it seems that there's a meme going around about how difficult it supposedly is to lose weight.

Well, it isn't difficult at all. It is easy. In a nutshell: you'll lose weight if you eat less. Or, like a doctor once said bluntly to a patient who kept complaining how she cannot lose her weight: Nobody was fat in Dachau.

The key to losing weight is really very simple. If you want to lose some weight in a given day, you have to eat less calories than your body burns during that day. If on a given day your body burns 2200 calories, and you eat 2000 calories, you will lose a bit of weight. If you eat 2400 calories, you will gain some. And 3500 calories (kcal) are about 0.5kg.

It is nearly impossible to eat in one day exactly the amount of calories that your body burns during that day. You are either going to eat more, or you are going to eat less. If you want to keep your weight level, you have to make sure that the days when you eat more than you burn are balanced by days when you eat less.

The real difficulty in losing weight is that most people have no idea of how many calories they're eating. But trying to lose weight without knowing how much you're eating is like driving in a dark night with no headlights.

All of the special kinds of diets that people try to sell you are misleading. They try to tell you that the key to losing weight is separating food, or avoiding carbohydrates, or whatever. That's all bollocks. The only reason any of that can work is if it tricks you into eating calories at a lower rate than your body burns. But as soon as you adapt to the new regime, you'll start exceeding your calorie input again and you won't be losing weight.

So here's how to lose weight the easy, sure-fire, denis way.
  1. Calculate your body's daily calorie consumption. There are calculators to help you do this on the web. Search for "calorie calculator men" or something similar. Use multiple of these calculators and average the results, because every calculator gives them slightly different.
  2. Keep a diary of what you eat. Most food has nutritional information on its packaging. For food that doesn't, look up its nutritional information on the web. Just try searching for "turkey breast kcal" or something, and you'll find sites with volumes of nutritional info. Don't eat anything unless you can get reliable nutritional information for it. Keep track of every tiniest speck you eat. 10 grams of oil have more than 90 calories. Keep track of everything.
  3. Now that you know how much you're eating and how much you need, it's easy to tell when to stop. Suppose you put your limit at 1600 kcal. When you exceed that, stop eating. That's it. That's how you lose weight. By stopping eating when you hit this limit.
  4. If you want to lose weight without losing muscle mass, you'll need to bump up your consumption of protein. Depending on the muscle mass you want to preserve and the sources you trust, you need to eat somewhere between 80 and 120+ grams of protein per day. Doing this while not exceeding a certain number of calories means you have to eat a lot of chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, cod - things that pack protein and are low in fat. If you want to hit 120g of protein on a 1600 calorie diet, this might mean eating more meat than you might be comfortable with. That's life. If you want to keep the muscle, you need to do it.
  5. If you adhere to these rules, you can pretty much eat anything you want. Sweets are fine, McDonald's is fine. Just know that a single double cheeseburger is 460 calories, and it packs only 25 grams of protein. If you want to reach 120 grams in 1600 calories, that's not a good enough ratio - unless you stuff yourself with tuna (not in oil!) the rest of the day. Likewise, 100 grams of chocolate are 600 calories, and pretty much none of that is usable protein. Still want to eat that chocolate whole? It's your call.
Doctors say that merely eating less will cause you to lose weight in the wrong places. As far as a man's health is concerned, the most important place to lose weight is the belly and the internal fat around organs. Apparently, to lose this weight, you need to exercise as well. I'm using an elliptical trainer for that.

For the past two weeks, I've been on an exercise and diet regime as described above. So far I've lost 1kg each week. I'm going to continue this until I eliminate my abdominal fat, and then I'm probably just going to keep recording my calorie and protein consumption indefinitely. When I get fit, I want to keep fit, and not let the cycle repeat itself.

So far, I have found the above principles to be quite successful. :)

Comments

Simon said…
I totally agree with you. Especially with "that most people have no idea of how many calories they're eating" part.

Some food products are really "hypocritical". For example McDonald's ranch dressing (salad dressing). The package contains about 230 calories. People want to eat healthy, they order a salad with the dressing and they don't even know that they will eat McHamburger's amount of calories.

Good luck with your diet BTW :)
Weight Loss said…
Great, Your blog on losing weight is excellent.
I marked it in my browser to visit again.
boris kolar said…
I don't have a clue about diets and losing weight, but here is my reasoning (without any online resource checking):
- there is a genetic predisposition for fatness, but genes can never win against a strong will, so anyone can choose to be thin
- it's not as simple as counting calories (for example, i remember reading that ethanol has a very high caloric value, but i doubt ethanol can make you fat)
- filling your stomach with water before eating will make you less hungry (i would suggest drinking water before meals)
- the best way to lose weight is to feel hungry all the time and exercise often
- i suppose higher hart rate will speed up fat burning and because you have a higher hart rate for several minutes after exercise, it should be more effective to have many short exercise sessions than few long ones
- you burn least calories when you sleep, so it's probably best to have smaller meals in the evenings
- it's probably better to have several small meals instead of one big meal
- it helps psychologically to have less food on your plate and have less supplies at home (shop lightly and often)
Anonymous said…
I don't have a clue about diets and losing weight, but here is my reasoning (without any online resource checking):
There are some problems.
- there is a genetic predisposition for fatness, but genes can never win against a strong will, so anyone can choose to be thin
This predisposition is very rare. Hardly to be taken into account.
- it's not as simple as counting calories (for example, i remember reading that ethanol has a very high caloric value, but i doubt ethanol can make you fat)
Well it is. Which is a good news :) Calories are going to be stocked in the body no matter the origins. Through ATP and other chemical reactions. Ethanol/alcohol is going to be absorb by the body. Don't drink ethanol when you diet.
- filling your stomach with water before eating will make you less hungry (i would suggest drinking water before meals)
No. It will only delay the hunger and once meal time is over you'll be hungry again (and when it's not meal time it's snack time, right ?)
Actually, water helps the body to fire up digestive process (among other things). Drink it whenever you want (yes before, during and after eating). Eating a fruit 20 minutes before eating will actually reduce hunger sensation.
- the best way to lose weight is to feel hungry all the time and exercise often
Feeling hungry the whole time will mess up your body signals and your interpretation of it. Hunger is a signal that says "body here, needs nutrients". It will decrease your metabolism in the long run to be hungry all the time because your body will start to prevent energy loss. You mustn't feel hungry at all. That's why you should eat 5/6 times a day so your body is always digesting something and keeping metabolism up.
- i suppose higher hart rate will speed up fat burning and because you have a higher hart rate for several minutes after exercise, it should be more effective to have many short exercise sessions than few long ones
Well not really. Lipolyse occurs after between 20 and 45 minutes of constant exercises at 60-70% (google anaerobic and aerobic) of your top heart rate frequence. The higher your heart rate, the more the body needs energy to live. When the body can't find this energy in the oxygen, it draws it up in the easiest source: glycogen (which is basically sugar in the blood, big fat generalisation here) and then.. it will cannibalize your muscle (that's one of the reason why intense exercises feel like your muscles are burning.. lactic acid, etc.. google it). So you are losing muscle and keeping your fat.
There is something called HIIT that could be more efficient and relies on short really high intensity training (we are talking 15 minutes session here with 5 minutes or really deadly sessions).
- you burn least calories when you sleep, so it's probably best to have smaller meals in the evenings
The conclusion is correct. But only because you need more energy in the day and to do that you need to eat more in the beginning of the day.
- it's probably better to have several small meals instead of one big meal
Definitely.
- it helps psychologically to have less food on your plate and have less supplies at home (shop lightly and often)
No no. The more you have at home, the less likely you are going to be tempted by junk foods in the food store or cheap meals. The more you planned your meals for the week, the more likely you are going to follow the plan. If you eat low caloric food (but food that has all you need to have regarding nutrients) you will have some really big plates. Vegetables take up some space : )

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