WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO LOSE WEIGHT…
AND WHY FAD DIETS ARE STEALING YOUR MONEY.
The most misunderstood topic that I find myself repeating hundreds of times over is exactly what the title says - The basics of how the body looses weight.
For the majority of people this is all completely new, and for others it may be just common sense.
Either way let me put this in to writing for all to see, understand, and implement.
Lets get stuck in to what you need to know to begin achieving your dream physique through fat loss!
ALL THE CALORIE STUFF
Ok, so everybody tends to get a little uncomfortable when I begin talking about Calories.
“Calories!? No don’t go near them, its not good for you”
“No I never count Calories, it makes people obsessed”
“What’s a Calorie”
Lets just go really simple here. When we talk about Calories, don’t freak out. The media has done a great job at creating a lot of fear around Calories.
But in reality we should understand how Calories effect us and our bodies if we are to achieve our health and fitness goals.
A Calorie is how we measure the energy content of our food.
Some foods are higher and some are lower in Calories.
We also use Calories to measure our own energy expenditure.
So how much your body burns off each day through physical activity, digestion, breathing, thinking etc. More on this to come!
ENERGY COMING IN
So how do we get Calories (energy)?
- Drink (alcohol has Calories guys)
Now each individual person needs a certain amount of energy to maintain bodyweight and carry out the various bodily functions.
It is highly individual.
Energy guidelines you see on the back of food packages such as ‘average daily intake for a male is 2500kcal’ are not useful.
We are all so different so never try to eat the same amount of Calories (energy) as anyone else. What one person can maintain weight on, you may gain weight on. Or what you loose weight on someone similar to you may gain weight on.
Its super important to have someone you trust - a fitness professional or nutritionist to help you to work out your daily energy needs. However the most important thing to note is whatever numbers you receive is just an estimate.
Lets move on to expending energy.
ENERGY GOING OUT
There are many ways we use energy in the body. Below we cover the various ways in more detail, and how you can help to achieve more energy output by focusing on the right ones!
BMR - Basal Metabolic Rate is all the energy required to keep your vital functions going:
- Brain functions
BMR can actually be increased in small amounts by how much muscle you hold.
BMR makes up a large proportion (70%) of your daily energy output. So you can’t change this a whole bunch.
Takeaway: Increase your lean muscle tissue as much as possible to increase how much you burn at rest!
NEAT & NENAT - Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is all the things you do throughout a day that is conscious activity.
Think shopping, cleaning, getting 10,000 steps etc. It is non-formal exercise.
This can be hugely variant between individuals.
- Non-Exercise Non-Activity Thermogenesis (NENAT) is everything you do that is not exercise, eating, daily activity or sleeping.
Think fidgeting, facial tone and expression. These are unconscious movements.
Both NEAT & NENAT have a huge and vary undervalued effect on your energy output each day.
Takeaway: Do more NEAT! Park in the furtherest car park from the store, take the stairs, mow the lawns, clean more, move around at the office all day! You will be surprised at how this alone can help to increase the amount of calories you are using each day.
Its important to note that as someone continues further into an energy deficit period such as a cut or weight loss phase they will unconsciously reduce their NEAT.
So making conscious steps to increase energy output through NEAT becomes that much more important as you get leaner and leaner.
TEF - Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) is the increase of metabolic rate after you eat a meal. Think about it, it is going to take a certain amount of energy for your body to process that food.
TEF changes depending on the size of the meal and what macronutrients are present in the meal and in what quantities.
Takeaway: Protein creates the greatest metabolic response. So eat more lean protein to help increase the energy you burn through eating and digestion!
EEE - Exercise Energy Expenditure (EEE) is the one you will hear me go on and on about. One of my toughest battles is trying to motivate our non-visiting gym members to actually exercise!
Basically all the energy you use exercising. Simple right? Well its only going to benefit you if you do it!
Takeaway: Schedule structured exercise 6-7 days per week!
Below is a summary of how these energy outputs relate to your overall energy expenditure.
As you can see BMR takes up a huge part and is also one of the harder ones to improve.
NEAT also takes up a larger proportion however is one of the easiest to increase!
WHATS THE POINT?
So after that slightly more technical information overload lets get back to the basics.
You as an individual have a moving energy intake (through food and drink, measured in Calories) and a moving energy expenditure (through all the points we have just outlined).
The biggest thing stopping people from dropping weight is the fact that they have no idea how much energy they are taking in combined with a very very small energy output due to our modern day sedentary lifestyles.
- If you wish to loose weight then your energy input needs to be less than your energy output. We call this a caloric deficit.
- If you wish to maintain weight then eating around the same number of Calories as it takes to operate your body each day will keep you there without weight gain or loss.
- If you wish to gain weight (and get jacked in the gym) then your energy input needs to be greater than your energy output. You need to eat more food than is required for you to do all your daily activities plus exercise. Which is why people with a naturally fast metabolism will struggle to gain weight even when eating truck loads of tasty food.
Keep in mind the above is all dynamic. Meaning no day will be the same. However tracking food intake and exercise can help to even out these variables.
This is a very simple look at what causes weight gain, loss and maintenance.
However things can get a little tricky...
WHEN THINGS BECOME TRICKY
There are number of factors that can make tracking intake and expenditure a little tricky and can lead to unexplained weight maintenance or gain when weight loss is the goal.
- If you are using a food diary then underreporting food eaten is a very common mistake. Far too many people think in their mind they have only had a small amount of food and therefore log their food inaccurately. Forgetting to include that extra biscuit, handful of nuts, or sugar filled orange juice.
- There is also a huge variation in food labels. Most countries allow between 15-20% variation on food labels! This could mean that what is labeled as 200 calories could in fact be 220 calories. Something that is almost impossible to account for. However you can get around this by eating similar foods often and choosing mainly single ingredient unpackaged whole foods.
- Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is often hugely overestimated. Especially in those with PCOS and hypothyroidism. BMR also reduces and adapts as you begin to diet and reduce energy intake.
- NEAT and NENAT also tends to reduce by substantial amounts in low calorie phases such as when losing weight. This is due to people reducing general activity and body movements without realising. The key is to keep forcing yourself to move even when you are feeling lethargic.
- Your exercise energy expenditure is also often overestimated. What your exercise tracking app says you burned from 30mins of cardio or 90mins of weight training can be very misleading and can also lead to subsequent overeating.
- One last thing that can trip you up when looking to drop body fat is that your body becomes more efficient at using Calories during exercise. What you thought would burn a certain level of energy is now not providing the same results due to a higher fitness level.
I hope this has given you a solid insight into what is actually effecting weight loss or gain, and now maybe you can make some wiser decisions when it comes to food choices.
A quick word on fad diets: You may have tried a bunch of them with various levels of success. However knowing what we have just covered do you think there was anything truly 'magic' about any of them?
They are all based off an energy balance principle, whether they know it or not, or choose to admit it or not.
There is no single best diet, they can all work.
However before you go throwing your money into some online fad diet claiming unheard of results, please remember what you have just learned and perhaps use some critical thinking to decide what might be best for you.
Go get 'em team!