Most of us desire to have a lean body. We want to look good without the excess tires around our waists.
I will give you a better reason for aspiring to be lean. Just think about how complicated it is if a surgeon had to cut through layers of fats if you ever needed a surgery.
This is the most compelling reason for us to lose weight – for the sake of our health!
The concept of weight loss is easy to understand. But it is really difficult to implement because it involves discipline and self-control. Here are 5 things to know in order to lose weight effectively & permanently.
1. You Need to have a sustained daily Nett Calorie Loss to lose weight
The following is a simple “Calorie” equation.
Daily Nett Calorie = “Calorie intake” – “Calorie Burn”
Calories are the energy your body needs to carry out its daily functions. They are derived as your body converts what you eat into the energy it needs. Excess calories are stored as fats.
Consider a car. As long as its engine is on, it burns petrol. The rate at which it burns petrol in its “idle-state” varies according to its engine capacity, efficiency and to a certain extent, age.
In a sense, your body works in a similar way. As long as you are alive, you burn calories, even when you are asleep. That’s called metabolism. Your metabolism rate depends on your body’s constitution – your height, your weight, your age and other factors we may not even understand.
An average man & woman needs about 2,500 & 1,500 calories respectively a day to maintain their body weight. If they constantly ingest more calories than that, it means that they will have a sustained “nett calorie gain”.
Without a corresponding increase in “calorie burn” or metabolic rate, they will likely gain weight. Why is that the case? Once again, let us think consider a car. Supposing you are able to fill up petrol while the car’s engine is on….and you add more petrol than the capacity of the fuel tank. What happens? The petrol overflows. In order for the car to store the additional petrol, it needs additional storage – a bigger fuel tank.
Likewise, if your calorie intake exceeds what your body requires or burns, it is converted into fat. And this is stored on you. It results in weight gain. It is proportionally distributed all over your body but mainly around your waist.
From my personal experience, I can lose half a kilogram a week by having a consistent daily nett negative 500 calories per day. In other words, my “calorie intake” is lower than my “calorie burn” by 500 calories per day.
2. Reducing “Calorie Intake” is more effective than exercising to lose weight.
Let’s refer to our calorie equation again ->
Daily Nett Calorie = “Calorie Intake” – “Calorie Burn”.
Many people focus on exercise as a means to lose weight. In other word, they attempt to increase the “Calorie Burn” part of the equation. Please note that exercising burns only 300-500 calories every half hour.
We can’t be exercising for hours just to burn calories. Hence, it is more effective to manage “calorie intake” rather than “calorie burn” when managing your Daily Nett Calorie. The following are 3 ways in which you can manage “calorie intake” effectively:
I) Your stomach takes about 20 minutes to tell your brain it had enough. Hence, you should not eat till you feel full. If you eat till you feel full, you will feel bloated in 20 minutes. You need to stop eating when you feel you still have some “headroom” because it takes 20 minutes to realise you have had enough.
II) Drinking lots of water is good way to help manage “calorie intake”. Water can make you feel full and water has effectively zero calories. Hence, it will not contribute to your calorie count. Drink lots of water before your meal and you will likely take smaller portions.
III) Another way to manage your calorie intake is to reduce the portions you used to take. For example, if you normally take 3 eggs & a glass of orange juice for breakfast, make it 2 eggs and half a glass. That would immediately contribute to lower “calorie intake” without a major disruption to your normal routine.
3. You have to reduce consumption of high calorie food that offers little or no nutritional value
Once again, consider the analogy of a car. Besides petrol, a car needs a host of lubricants such as engine oil and other fluids. There are many grades of fuel and lubricants. If you use an inferior grade of petrol or lubricant, it will make your car less efficient and potentially damage the engine.
In the same way, your body needs nutritious food and vitamins in order to be healthy, besides staying alive. Hence, it is important that we know the impact of what we are consuming. Having 1,000 calories of junk food as your ”calories intake” is like using 92 octane petrol for a car designed for 98 octane petrol. You will not only experience bad performance; you could destroy the engine! Likewise, your body could be heading for a nasty disaster if your “calorie intake” is not healthy.
A balanced diet is required for a healthy body. But there are some types of food that our bodies can certainly have less of. For example, sugary and oily food are high in calorie but not nutritious.
Excess sugar is converted into fats and stored in your body. Sugar should be the first thing you avoid if you wish to lose weight. You don’t have to starve yourself. Just increase your protein & fibre intake, reduce carb, avoid sugar & oily food and you will likely see improvements in weight management.
4. Your body remembers your average weight and strives to maintain it
Your body is an amazing creation. It has memory of your average body weight and strives towards maintaining it. For example, after running a marathon, I lost about 4kg. While this is mainly due to water loss, I returned to my usual weight a few days later even though I did not eat or drink more than I normally do.
In the same way, if your “nett calorie” is higher for a day or two, your body has a mysterious way to compensate, burn off those excess calories and bring you back to your average weight after a few days. Hence, it is necessary to have several days of consistent negative “Daily Nett Calorie” to recalibrate your body’s memory of your average weight. This is the challenging part! Don’t be surprised that several months are needed for a sustained reduction of just afew kilograms of weight.
And if you are tracking your weight everyday, expect fluctuations of potentially 0.5 to 2kg. You should track your weight at the same time everyday. What you are looking for is a trend which averages downward.
The above chart shows how I lost about 4kg in a sustained manner over the last 3-4 months. While there are daily weight fluctuations, there is a distinct downward trend as I try to recalibrate my body’s memory of my average weight. It is a great feeling when your clothing feels loose and you need smaller sized ones.
I have not reached my ideal weight yet. I need to lose at least another 5 kilograms. But I know I am on the correct trajectory because I already feel healthier. I am carrying 4kg less when I run. (That’s about the weight of a sack of rice!) What a great feeling when that load is off you!
5. Weight loss requires a life-style Change
As indicated earlier, our body has a mysterious way of compensating and maintaining our average weight. This can sometimes work against us because our bodies may start burning less calories when we reduce our “calorie intake”. In other words, we end up with a lower metabolism rate. That is why, weight loss requires a life-style change. Reduced calorie intake has to be accompanied by exercise that builds muscles to maintain a reasonable metabolic rate. And this has to be a sustained effort.
Consider this – with a lower weight and a leaner body, your body organs have effectually “shrunk” proportionally. As such, you obviously cannot be eating more than you used to. You will need to adjust to the calorie needs of your body’s new state. You need to carefully manage the calorie equation so that you can maintain your weight and remain lean.
That is why the quick-fix diet plan will not work if you are planning to return to eating the usual amount you are used to. In those scenarios, you usually end up putting on more weight. This is because the body compensated for the lower amount of food consumed during the period of the diet. It slowed down your metabolism and you ended up having a higher “Daily Nett Calorie” gain when you return to eating the same amount again. That is exactly what you want to avoid. Hence, never go for the quick-fix diet plan.
As mentioned at the start, the concept of weight loss is easy to understand. But it is really difficult to implement because it involves discipline and self-control. Once you set your mind on a life-style change, carefully manage the “Daily Nett Calorie” equation and you will be on track for a healthy lifestyle.
Count your calories, reset your health for life! Please share this article with your friends so that they will know these things about weight loss too!