To Lose Weight, Do The Math
There is one simple secret to losing weight: Do the Math.
Seriously. Do the math on how many calories you need a day, how many you burn and make sure that you take in less than you need to maintain.
One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. Therefore, if you want to lose one pound a week, take in 3,500 calories less every week. Want to lose two pounds? Take in 7,000 less calories. By the way: Two pounds of weight loss a week is the most you should ever do over the long haul. That’s because rapid weight loss has been known to cause kidney stones. If you ever had one, you know how excruciating that can be. So while in the early weeks you ay lose more, try for a healthy loss of one to one-and-a-half pounds-a-week.
Here’s another number you should know. Your BMI.
The BMI stands for Body Mass Index and is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women. It is a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems.
For men, at ideal weight, the BMI should be in the range of 20.7-26.4. For women, 19.1-25.8. You can calculate yours at www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/. If you want to then compare that to see what your BMI indicates (whether you are overweight, obese, morbidly obese or super obese) you should be go to www.halls.md/ideal-weight/medical.htm
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note, it is important to remember that BMI is not a direct measure of body fatness and that BMI is calculated from an individual’s weight which includes both muscle and fat. As a result, some individuals like professional football players may have a high BMI but not have a high percentage of body fat.
That’s because they have increased muscularity rather than increased body fatness. Although some people with a BMI in the overweight range (from 25.0 to 29.9) may not have excess body fatness, most people with a BMI in the obese range (equal to or greater than 30) will still have increased levels of body fatness.
When I first started, at nearly 260 pounds, my BMI was 37.5.
As I write this, at 195, my BMI is 28.4.
Remember what I said about doing the math? That is what you need to start doing right now.
You don’t eat unless you make a record if it.
A 2008 Kaiser Permanente study of nearly 1,700 participants conclusively proves why this is important. It found that that people who kept daily food diaries lost twice as much weight or more as those who didn’t keep a tally of their meals. Overall, two-thirds of the study subjects lost nine pounds or more during the six-month study. But those who kept a food diary every day of the week dropped up to 20 pounds, more than twice as much as those who didn’t record their every bite.
There are all sorts of tools on the Internet and apps for your smartphone that will make this very easy. There are free or very reasonably priced databases available that will give you the caloric and nutritional contents of very possible food you can find.
The one I personally use and like the most is called MyNetDiary (http://mynetdiary.com) This is the most useful tool I have found for meeting my food and exercise goals. I have the premium edition on my iPhone. It has a massive database of foods, all categorized by nutrition. More importantly, it allows me to use the phone camera to photograph the nutritional bar code on the packages of the foods I eat and it automatically calculates the calories, protein, carbs, etc.
They say perhaps the single most important thing someone can do in changing their eating habits is to write everything down. This app, and its related website, makes that so easy to do. It’s really simple: Again, to lose a pound of fat, you need to lose 3,500 calories.
You wont know when you’ve hit than number unless you start keeping track. Guessing is not good enough. My rule is to enter the food the minute I eat it. No exceptions.