Realistic Losses

In the age of The Biggest Loser, countless commercial diets and exercise programs and surgical weight loss procedures I have concerns that as a society we are losing sight of healthy sustainable weight loss.

Most people gain weight at a slow and steady pace over time and the best way to reverse that gain is to create goals and a plan that results in a slow and steady loss.

Sustainable weight loss goals should be based on losing a maximum of 2 pounds per week.

Did you know that one pound of fat is equivalent to 3500 calories?  That means if your goal is to lose 2 pounds in a given week you have to create a 1000 calorie deficit every day to reach your goal.

Caloric deficits are created through limiting your caloric intake combined with your caloric expenditure through physical activity. These things go hand-in-hand and you need to incorporate both of them to achieve sustained weight loss.

If you think you can just create a caloric deficit by just cutting calories you will likely run into two things:

1)   If you aren’t consuming enough calories your body will begin to hoard everything you take in to prevent you from starving – as a result this slows your metabolism and weight loss suddenly becomes much more difficult

2)   Your will power to severely limit your caloric intake is difficult to sustain and has the potential to result in binge eating episodes

Pairing physical activity with reduced caloric intake can ultimately bring about better results because:

1)   As you build lean muscle and lose body fat your metabolism increases (muscle is a metabolic tissue), which supports better weight loss and management

2)   You are not totally dependent upon your intake to create the deficit

Now that you know what it takes to lose a pound can you see why it’s not only unrealistic but dangerous to think about losing 5 pounds, 10 pounds or more in just one week?


Calories In, Calories Out

Most people understand the concept that weight loss comes down to calories in and calories out. But did you know that one pound of fat is equivalent to 3500 calories?

That means to lose 1 pound in a week you need to create a caloric deficit of 500 each day either through reduced intake, increased activity, or a combination of both.

Before you can determine how to create a 500-calorie deficit per day you need to first know how many calories you should be consuming. Following is some information published by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2005 regarding estimated caloric needs:
(note: the 2005 guidelines remain valid until the 2010 report is published)

Women ages 19 – 30: 2,000 – 2,400
Women ages 31 – 50: 1,800 – 2,200
Women ages 51+: 1,600 – 2,200

Men ages 19 – 30: 2,400 – 3,000
Men ages 31 – 50: 2,200 – 3,000
Men ages 51+: 2,000 – 2,800

Those who live a more sedentary lifestyle should aim for the lower number, whereas those with a more active lifestyle should consume the higher listed calories.

To approach weight loss in a healthy way you should not lose any more than two pounds during a given week. Let’s take a look at the numbers to get a better idea of why.

Let’s say you are a 40-year old woman with a fairly active lifestyle consuming 2,000 calories a day. To lose one pound a week you would need to reduce the caloric balance to 1,500 calories per day, and for a two-pound loss your caloric balance would need to be 1,000.

Notice that the two-pound loss puts this woman at a daily 800-calorie deficit according to the recommended daily intake values. With this type of deficit there is a potential of robbing the body of the nutrients that it needs to remain healthy.

Now take a look at the numbers if this same woman lost five pounds in one week. To achieve a five-pound weight loss in a week the woman would need to achieve an average of 2,500-calorie deficit each day. That deficit is greater than the recommended intake! Not only is that not healthy, it is certainly not sustainable for any period of time.

Bottom line is you need to find a healthy balance with calorie intake and increased activity. Extreme changes in your intake or activity levels have the potential to be damaging to your overall health. If you are trying to lose weight keep the loss to a maximum of two pounds a week for sustained health and long-lasting results.

No Shortcuts

This diet will help you lose 10 pounds in just one week!

Buy this exercise DVD and you can lose inches in just days!

Take one of these pills three times a day to curb hunger and lose weight!

When it comes to diet and exercise there are no shortcuts, regardless of what the magazines, books or infomercials tell you. To see sustainable results you need to put in the effort and the time to do it the right way.

There are some things that you should consider before purchasing any books, magazines or DVDs.

Avoid anything that promises you significant weight loss in a short time frame. Dropping several pounds in a short time frame is a good indication that you are starving your body of the nutrients that it needs to function. To sustain weight loss the maximum amount of weight you should lose in a given week is 2 pounds.

Avoid diets that require you to cut out entire food groups from your diet. Unless you have allergies or specific directions from your doctor the only foods you should eliminate from your diet are processed foods. Eating a balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats will help you to get the essential nutrients, including the vitamins and minerals needed to promote health and prevent illness.

Avoid purchasing a workout solely on the claim that you will gain muscle or lose inches. Your primary reason for purchasing an exercise program is that you will enjoy doing it. Many of the workout programs that promise significant body changes within a given time frame not only require a serious commitment to the program, they often require major diet modifications to see the extreme results advertised. Let’s face it, if you don’t enjoy the workout you aren’t going to have the drive to stay committed to the program, let alone sticking to the changes in your diet.

Bottom line, as with most things in life, if it sounds too good to be true – IT IS!