The body is an almost perfect machine, capable of incredible feats of endurance and strength, but just like a prestige car, it needs to be properly cared for and looked after. With the hundreds of miracle diets that seem to go on sale every year, it would be reasonable to assume that losing weight or maintaining the same weight would be a relatively easy proposition.
However, the reality is far from the truth, which is why this article today is going to focus on the science of weight loss, rather than the type of food you should be eating.
The science of weight loss is equivalent to the rules of chess, once you understand the rules, then you are at a distinct advantage, and you can plan your diet using facts and knowledge, rather than guesswork.
The first part of the equation that is essential to work out and understand is the amount of energy you expend or use every day. Many people instantly think of exercise, jogging, and a trip to the gym, but the reality is that everything we ask our bodies to do, uses up energy.
Even something as simple and natural as breathing, causes our bodies to expend energy. Therefore, the first thing you need to know when trying to lose weight is what daily total of your energy expenditure. This is essentially the total number of calories your body burns daily.
Before going any further into the process, let’s examine in greater detail how your body produces energy. Your body creates energy in the form of heat. Don’t worry, we are not going to get too scientific and technical, but as this is the foundation of weight loss, you must have at least a basic understanding of the process.
Food is what the body uses to create energy, and as we all know to our cost, the type of food we eat can deliver very different results to our energy levels and physique.
The energy found in food is measured in calories, or technically kilo calories. A kilo calorie in basic terms is the amount of heat required to increase the temperature of one kilogram of water, one-degree Celsius. Your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure is equivalent to the number of calories that you burn.
Now that might sound very simple, and in essence, it is, but there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into the equation. Energy expenditure varies from person to person. Some of the factors which can affect the outcome include your body size, your gender, your body composition, genetics, and of course, your level of daily activity. Someone who spends 90 minutes a day in the gym working hard, will burn more calories than someone binge-watching Game of Thrones.
To provide you with a baseline from which to begin, a small sedentary lady would be around 1800 calories per day, which the TDEE for a large man would be about 2000 calories.
Our easy to use calculator is the perfect tool to work out the number of calories you burn per day. It is essential to understand that each day will be different and the estimate our calculator produces is entirely dependent on the date which you input. That is why you must be honest about the information you enter.
The next part of the process now that you understand how your body produces energy is to work out the number of calories that you are putting into your body daily. The good news is that with the advent of technology, and some government interventions, it is a relatively simple process to count the number of calories you put into your body every day.
Governments have placed requirements on food manufacturers to publish the number of calories on their packaging, and there are also numerous smartphone apps which will essentially hold an entire database of food products.
By simply scanning the bar code, any of these apps will record the number of calories in a particular food, and keep a running total for you over the course of the day. Now that you have these two critical components, you are well on the way to tackling your weight loss head-on.
Energy Expenditure and Weight Loss
In layman’s terms to lose weight, the aim is to burn more calories than you consume. There are effectively three ways in which you can go about this. You can increase the amount of energy you expend every day; you can reduce the number of calories you put into your body, or you can find a combination of both.
The experts in the diet field, tend to agree that to lose 1 to 2 pounds of fat, you should aim for a calorie deficit of between 3500 to 7000 calories per week.
Although the theory of creating a calorie deficit may sound very simple, the reality is much different. Let’s face it trying to lose weight is challenging; your body has developed certain habits over many years, which will be difficult to break in a matter of weeks.
However, that does not mean that it is impossible to achieve; you just need to build new habits, which will take time. In most cases, people focus on eating less, rather than exercising more, because the amount of energy required to create a calorie deficit is relatively high.
Ways to Boost Energy Expenditure
For those of us who do not get excited by the prospect of the treadmill, there are other ways to boost your energy expenditure.
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)
Neat is the number of calories we burn through our everyday movement, which is the reason behind the sudden interest in pedometers and measuring the number of steps people take every day. If you work in an office, get up and move about for fifteen minutes every hour.
Try to use the stairs rather than the elevator, and park your car further away from the store in the carpark. This will force you to get some extra steps in without much effort. Remember anything you can do to burn more calories will help you to lose weight.
Thermic Effect of Food
As we mentioned earlier, not all food is created equally. Certain foods burn more calories than others, and this is known as the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF). By choosing the right foods, which burn more calories, you are giving your TDEE a little boost.
Perhaps the most important thing to take from all of this is that weight loss is a habit that you need to practice. Energy expenditure and intake are irrevocably intertwined, so to lose weight, gain weight or maintain weight, you need to pay attention to both sides of the equation. Balance is essential, and there will be days where it all goes horribly wrong.
You are only human, and sometimes you will have a bad day. The key to long term success is to forget about the one bad day and get back into the groove straight away the next day. And once you hit your target weight goals, then all that is required to maintain that weight is to match your energy intake and expenditure.
By following these steps and understanding the process, you no longer need to get into the yo-yo diet lifestyle, and you can finally have the body you always wanted.