Weight Loss - Simple Lessons for Sustained SuccessWritten by Liz Smith
Weight loss is a goal for many people today, but cutting through all hype and getting quality information can be difficult. This article will give you information on your metabolism, nutrition, and exercise that you can use to evaluate weight loss programs that you may be considering, or to create your own. For healthy, effective, and sustained weight loss you need to be educated about how your body's metabolism works.
Your Body Does Basic Math
One of most important factors that directly impacts weight loss is a concept called “energy balance." Quite simply, this is a measure of whether a person has eaten more calories than they burned that day, or vice versa. Because of all scientific jargon, it can be baffling to read detailed descriptions of how your body and metabolism work. But when it comes to weight loss, all you need to know is that your metabolism does basic math – addition and subtraction; calories eaten and calories burned.
- Neutral energy balance – eating same number of calories as you burn every day
- Positive energy balance – eating more calories than you burn every day
- Negative energy balance – eating fewer calories than you burn every day
In order to begin healthy, effective weight loss, you need to achieve negative energy balance. There are two primary ways to do this – daily diet and exercise. We’ll take a closer look at each very shortly.
However, it is important to note that most people who are aiming for moderate weight loss should not tip scales too drastically into negative energy balance. For instance, if your daily activities result in 2000 calories burned per day, restricting your calorie intake to 800 calories per day would be excessive. You would lose weight, but probably not in way you intended. Your body would see this drastic calorie restriction as starvation, and would begin hoarding body fat and burning muscle, in addition to losing valuable fluids and electrolytes, which is exactly opposite of what you are hoping to achieve.
If you are at neutral energy balance and have moderate weight loss goals, then a calorie restriction of 500 calories per day will produce healthy, gradual weight loss. Be sure to consult your physician regarding appropriate levels of calorie restriction and activity if your weight loss goals are very aggressive.
There are two main factors that you should consider when evaluating your daily diet – total calories and composition. The term "total calories" is as simple as it sounds - number of calories you have consumed in a given day. If you’re already mindful of total quantity of food you eat each day, and are good at estimating serving sizes, you’re in a good position to determine where your current energy balance is, and monitor it as you progress. If not, it can be useful to purchase an inexpensive kitchen scale to get a better idea of how big a serving that you consider “average” really is. You need to know how many calories you're eating on a daily basis in order to know where you can make improvements.
The composition of your diet is also very important. With all competing diet programs out there, it can be difficult to separate science from hype. The guidelines in USDA’s new food pyramid, called MyPyramid, are very helpful in identifying good food choices – whole grain carbohydrates instead of processed carbs (whole wheat bread rather than white), lean instead of high-fat protein sources (chicken instead of prime rib), and healthy sources of fat (olive oil instead of Crisco). These guidelines will serve you well in formulating a daily diet that will keep you well-nourished with sustained energy levels and feeling your best over long term.
Weight Loss Setbacks and the "All or Nothing" AttitudeWritten by Victor Holtreman
I want to talk about "all or nothing" outlook that is death to any attempt to lose fat and get in shape.
You're probably familiar with this concept... you might be rolling along making progress at losing fat for a few weeks when a holiday rolls around (typically Thanksgiving) or during summer you have some company that comes to visit for a week. Suddenly rules you've been following go out window: There are goodies all around, and with all friends and family there's no time (or thought) given to working out.
Next thing you know, you look at scale and you've put on two, three or four pounds over course of a week or two. Weight that you worked so hard to lose, and took you probably twice that long to take off.
Your first reaction is probably to say "The hell with it, what's point?" and go back to your old ways, and for good measure you probably end up even more overweight than where you started.
Believe me, that's completely understandable. The problem is that although human body is a miraculous thing, it can also be brutally unforgiving when it comes to staying in shape. You can lose months of hard won fitness in a couple of weeks.