I Eat Right and Exercise But I Still Can’t Lose Weight!
How can that be? It just doesn’t make any sense. If I am eating right and exercising, why am I not losing any weight? In order to figure it out, you need to keep one thing in mind: all weight gains or losses are determined by the difference between the number of calories one consumes and the number of calories one expends.
To simplify I like to use an analogy. Managing your weight is like managing a check book.
The calories you burn would be your income. The calories you eat would be your expenses. At the end of the day if your income (calorie burn) exceeds your expenses (calorie intake) you will lose weight. Likewise, if your expenses (calorie intake) exceed your income (calorie burn) you will gain weight. Losing weight is like saving money – you can’t spend more than you make.
In order to be financially healthy, one must know what their income is and adjust their spending accordingly. Similarly, to maintain a healthy weight, one must know what their calorie burn is and adjust their consumption accordingly.
So what is the magic equation? How does one lose a pound of fat?
One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories.
In order to lose a pound of fat in a week, a person has to create a 500 calorie per day deficit (500 calories x 7 days = 3500 calories). It doesn’t matter how you do it, whether by eating less or exercising more or a combination of both, you just have to create the deficit.
Sounds simple, right? Well if it’s so simple why do we have an obesity epidemic in this country?
In my experience, the problem is twofold. First, people tend to grossly UNDERESTIMATE how many calories they are taking in. Whether it is not knowing how many calories are in the food they eat or not accounting for everything they eat (including the food you eat “a bite here and a bite there”), people tend to err on the low side when it comes to estimating their intake. Second, people tend to grossly OVERESTIMATE how many calories they are burning. Unless you are a superhero, it’s a good bet that you are not burning 1000 calories per half hour on the treadmill that many info-commercials claim you will.
How can one get around the “estimation” problem and get some concrete numbers with which to work? On the intake (calories consumed) side of the equation, food logging is a great way to keep track of your calories. Logging your food forces you to pay attention and become aware to what you are eating and how much you are eating. There are a plethora of books with calorie information on common foods and there are websites (http://myfitnesskitchen.dotfit.com/) with similar information. Every packaged food in the grocery store has a food label which contains calorie information and many restaurants and fast food places have online nutrition information which contains calorie counts. Make no mistake, food logging can be tedious but it is the only way you are going to be able to get a true number of calories consumed.
On the output (calories burned) side of the equation there are a number of tools you can use. You can calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (the number of calories you burn just to stay alive) using any number of online calculators. To that you can add any calories you burn doing daily activities (again, you can find calorie calculators online). These calculations will get you close to figuring out your actual calorie burn for the entire day, but they still involve a certain amount of guesswork.
For those who want to remove all guesswork, Activity Tracking Technology exists that can tell you an actual number of calories expended. Referring back to our financial analogy, having the Technology is like getting a payroll statement. It tells you exactly what your expenditure is so you know exactly how much you can spend.
If you still aren’t convinced that an accurate calorie count is important, consider this: if you consume 10 calories a day (the equivalent of 3 M & M candies) more than you burn, it will result in a 1 pound weight gain over the course of a year. How many of us would only consume 3 M &M candies? What if that handful totaled 30 M & M candies? Then you are looking at a 100 calorie surplus. If one would average that surplus for a year, you now can see how one could easily add on 10 pounds in one year. This information is not here to tell you should only eat this or that, but rather, so you now are aware and know the cost of what you eat. As long as you know your income (caloric expenditure) and your expenses (caloric intake) you will be in the best position to manage your weight on YOUR FOOD on YOUR TERMS!
For more information, please feel free to schedule a FREE consult with any of the fitness professionals at My Fitness Kitchen®.
This FREE Consult is a strategy session for us to learn your goals, factor in your availability, interests, limitations (if any) and prepare a personalized game plan following our L.E.A.N (Livable Exercise and Nutrition) Lifestyle while empowering you on the “Hierarchy of Fat Loss”.
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