I have been in the health and wellness industry for nearly 10 years now. I have done health coaching, personal training, nutrition counseling, health educating, group exercise, boot camps, etc. No matter what I have done, people seem to be most interested in and struggle the most with losing weight. Well, outside of rare metabolic, genetic, or other health concerns, losing weight is not as hard as it appears. Truthfully, if you can do math, you can lose weight.
The first part of weight loss and math is about energy consumed in the form of calories. In other words, the food you eat. In order to make changes on the scale you MUST be aware of how many calories you are eating on a regular basis. Many times, people who struggle with weight loss can eat healthily but have no idea how many calories they are eating. One of my favorite places to go to count calories is Fat Secret. Here you can search for foods, find healthy recipes, track your weight, and log your workouts. There are other calorie counting websites as well so find one you like and use it daily.
The second part of weight loss and math is understanding the calorie content of fat. Since most cases of being overweight or obese involve extra and unneeded fat, you have to know how many calories are in fat. 1 pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories. Now think about how many extra pounds of fat you have on your body and do the math. For example if you are 20 pounds overweight, multiply 3500 and 20 and you will see a huge number of calories that need to be burned in order to lose that weight. This brings me to the third and final part of weight loss and math.
The third part of weight loss and math is about calories burned. Burning calories happens in many ways. Digestion, sleeping, breathing, and even thinking causes calories to be burned. What I want to focus on though is the number of calories burned as a result of your resting metabolic rate (RMR) and exercise. Your RMR is basically how many calories you will burn each day if you just sit on the couch and do nothing for 24 hours. This calorie expenditure is necessary to keep you alive. For a rough estimate of your RMR click here, enter the required information, and select inactive for the activity level. Finally, you have the calories burned in exercise. The best way to figure out what you are burning when you work out is to wear a heart rate monitor that tracks calorie expenditure. Another option would be to use this website and find your exercise.
Now let's put it all together. Let's say you eat 2500 calories every day, have a RMR of 1900, and burn 400 calories with exercise 3 days per week. Well in this example, the calorie intake of food isn't too bad and there are 3 days of exercise, good right? Well let's do the math first. Food at 2500 calories per day multiplied by 7 (days in a week) =17,500 calories. A RMR of 1900 multiplied by 7 (days of the week) =13,300 calories. Now before I get to exercise, what's the significance of the first two numbers? Well if you subtract RMR calories burned (13,300) from the calories eaten (17,500) you get 4,200 calories in excess. That means you WILL GAIN WEIGHT. But let's throw in those days of exercise and see if it helps. You have 4,200 calories left over that need to be burned and remember you are working out 3 days per week burning 400 calories each time which comes out to 1,200 calories. Doing more simple math, if you take your exercise calories burned (1200) from the left over 4,200 calories, you still have 3,000 calories left over. Remember, 1 pound of fat has 3500 calories, which means you will be gaining about a 1 pound every week unless you make changes to your eating and exercise habits.
So how do I lose weight you may be asking? After you have done all the math at the end of the week you need to be in NEGATIVE CALORIE BALANCE. Not sure what that means? Look at the "math" below and you will have an idea of what you want to see. You will notice that two things changed from our first example in the paragraph above. Get your calculators ready!
Eat 1500 calories per day X 7 (days per week)=10,500 calories
RMR 1900 calories per day X 7 (days per week)=13,300 calories
Burn 400 calories X 5 (days per week)=2,000 calories
10,500 - 13,300 - 2,000= -4,800 AKA WEIGHT LOSS