A No-Nonsense Guide To How Weight Loss/Gain Really Works
Everyone has his own theory in regards to how weight loss works. Some exclaim that fat is the culprit, while others declare the real problem to be sugar. And this does not include the large amount of people attributing their problem to genetics, many of whom are consuming a donut while watching their favorite television series.
In this article, I will try to dispel some of the myths regarding weight loss (and gain), in order to give a more accurate understanding of how weight loss actually works.
Our ability to gain weight and lose weight is directly correlated to calorie intake versus calorie expenditure. Or in simpler terms, how much we are eating versus how much we are exercising. In theory, it is very simple. Eat less and exercise more, and the weight should come right off.
In one pound of body fat, there are 3500 calories. What this means is, in order to lose one pound of body fat, you must create a caloric deficit of 3500 calories. The same goes in reverse if your goal is to gain weight.
There is one more factor in this equation, besides eating and exercising. It is called your basal metabolic rate, or BMR. Your bmr is the amount of calories you burn while doing nothing.
This is the energy required to perform different unconscious functions that keep you alive, such as digestion.
So let’s put it all together.
First, you take your energy burned. This can be as simple as, from walking to your car on your way to work, to the 3 mile jog done at the gym. Anything that requires any kind of effort goes into this category.
Second, figure out your bmr.
Third, figure out how many calories you consumed.
Finally, add your calories from energy burned, to your bmr, and then subtract your calories consumed.
Here is an example:
Let us say that, via my workout, my walk to work, my bike ride with my friends, and some other chores around the house, I burned 1000 calories.
Using a BMR calculator, I figure out that my approximate BMR is 2100 calories.
On this day, I consumed about 2400 calories.
After performing the equation, I am at a 700 calorie-a-day deficit. This means that if I am consistent for 5 days (700 x 5), I will have burned 3500 calories, or one pound of body fat.
I would say that, as a general basis, losing 1-3 pounds a week is a healthy rate of weight loss. Even 3 pounds a week is a lot, but I think it may still be attainable.
For cognitive functioning, our body requires at least 500 calories, so make sure you are consuming more than this number. I would recommend not ever consuming less than 1000 calories.
Although, weight loss and weight gain have a lot to do with calories in versus calories out, it is a bit more complicated.
The foods we choose play a big role in our success. If you are consuming nothing but cookies and donuts, you are most likely going to struggle losing weight. If your goal is to gain weight, I still would not recommend those kinds of foods, as they are void of nutrients.
Our bodies process things in certain ways. If you eat the way your ancestors ate, combined with daily exercise, you do not have to worry too much about counting calories.
If you are eating high-quality, grass-fed, hormone-free meats, combined with fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and beans, weight loss can be achieved with much less struggle.
The fiber in these foods increases satiety, or fullness, and these foods are packed with vitamins and minerals that our bodies need for optimal functioning.
If your goal is to gain weight, I would recommend the same diet with the addition of a high-calorie food, such as pasta or rice, to give much-needed calories to your diet.
If your goal is to cut, or lose weight, I would recommend cutting out grains and pasta, for they are sources of extra calories and minimal nutrients.
If you noticed, I have not mentioned milk. I personally believe that milk is unnecessary for humans, but milk is a great source of calcium and protein. Thus, if you decide to consume milk, really try to drink only from hormone-free and organic sources, in an attempt to eliminate a lot of the adverse health effects associated with commercially-run dairy farms.
The reason why carbohydrates often get a bad reputation, is because of the way our bodies process them. What I am about to describe does not include fruits, and other whole foods containing carbohydrates, because of their fiber content.
The fiber in fruits causes a much slower intake of the sugars present, which prevents the rapid sugar highs and lows associated with processed sweets. Fruit juices, however, are void of fiber, and are processed similarly to processed carbohydrates.
When we consume processed sweets, such as candy, donuts, cake, etc., our bodies process it much differently because of the lack of fiber.
The consumption of the high-sugar foods, causes an extreme spike in our blood sugar. This is followed by a large drop in blood sugar, in which our body craves more sugar. It is a vicious cycle that cannot be controlled with a little extra “will power.”
The only time I would recommend consuming high sugar foods, that lack fiber, would be if you are performing a lengthy, endurance workout, such as a marathon. In this kind of situation, you will be using a lot of your energy stores.
By consuming a food high in sugar, you are replenishing your energy stores quickly, giving you the energy you need to complete the workout. Because you are using your that sugar immediately as fuel for your workout, it will not be stored as fat, or cause you to have a sugar crash.
To summarize, weight gain is about calories.
The more calories you eat, the more you gain, and vice versa.
It is also about the foods you eat. Avoid processed sweets, and consume good sources of meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and beans.
If your goal is to gain weight, add foods such as pasta and rice, as well.
So next time you hear misinformation, or a new diet fad, you can respond with true, factual information regarding weight loss and weight gain.
Losing weight and gaining weight are slow processes that take time. You do not gain 40 pounds in a week, and you do not lose 40 pounds in a week. It is a process. Enjoy it. It feels good to be healthy. If you are eating well and exercising, the results will come. There is often no better feeling than living an active, healthy lifestyle.
About Danny Maman My name is Danny Maman. I have a real passion for health and fitness and enjoy having a life that revolves around this. I have my bachelor's degree in exercise science with a minor in allied health. I am also a certified personal trainer with ACE and am a former college basketball player.