Shhhhhhhh…..Don’t tell anyone…….this is the Secret to Weight Loss
Weight Watchers has been getting a good run in the media lately. So too Lite 'n' Easy. Both claim to offer the solution to your weight loss desires.
They even suggest you can eat delicious foods like chocolate cake, pancakes & Asian stir-fries. What's not to love? There's an abundance of people queueing up to share their success stories too.
So what's the secret? How do these people lose weight when they're consistently eating foods like the ones mentioned above? Aren't they likely the very reason you probably want to shed a few kilos in the first place? The answer is very simple, calorie control.
Weight Watchers, Lite 'n' Easy and other similar services all feature calorie controlled diets.
Every single menu they offer sticks to a fairly rigid calorie figure, based on whether you're a male or a female to ENSURE you are ultimately going to be burning more calories than you're consuming. It isn't magic, its simple thermodynamics. Essentially, it's a very basic attempt at flexible dieting - incorporating foods people love into a calorie controlled diet using moderation. Except there is no individualisation.
Which means as a female you might be awarded 1200 calories and as a male, 1600. Or something like that.
These plans are one size fits all approach - which is great for ensuring success - after all, if you want ANYBODY to be able to follow it and still lose weight, you need to make sure that the biggest AND the smallest people out there can do so & succeed - but NOT so great for sustainability. Unless of course you enjoy being consistently hungry by eating tiny meals. Realistically having minimal control over the foods you can eat.
A better option is to track your macros (protein, fats and carbs)
Figure out the amount of calories you need in accordance with your goals and activity levels and eat foods you enjoy and that nourish you and that satisfy your hunger and cravings as you see fit.
You'll still be controlling your intake in the same way Weight Watchers would - but this way, you'll probably be able to eat a little more & you'll definitely be able to incorporate more variety. That means you're probably going to enjoy it a hell of a lot more.
You don't NEED Weight Watchers to lose weight, you do NEED to be burning more calories than you're consuming. It's as simple as that.
I'm not trying to bash Weight Watchers - they've helped a lot of people and for some, convenience is of the utmost importance.
But when it comes to thinking for yourself, and understanding HOW to eat for your goals, these sorts of approaches are a distant second to tracking your macros & dieting flexibly. Plus, why be content with eating 1200 calories per day if you could be getting the fat loss job done on 2000 to begin with?
So, let's do this, this can be a little confusing if maths freaks you out like it does me, but take your time. This is the “secret”.
A super quick guide on how to calculate your own fat loss diet.
As background information:
1g protein = 4 calories
1g carbohydrate = 4 calories
1g dietary fat = 9 calories
Remember, this is a VERY quick guide on how to rapidly establish a potential starting point. for YOUR upcoming cut/ fat loss phase. For these quick calculations we will use bodyweight in pounds. If you don't know what you weigh in pounds, then multiply your bodyweight in kilograms by 2.2.
1. Determine Basal Metabolic Rate
I recommend the Mifflin-St. Jeor Method for determining basal metabolic rate.
Men: BMR = 10 * weight(kg) + 6.25 * height(cm) - 5 * age(y) + 5
Women: BMR = 10 * weight(kg) + 6.25 * height(cm) - 5 * age(y) - 161
, where s is +5 for males and −161 for females.
2. Multiply BMR by your activity levels to determine Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)
If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
This will give you your maintenance calorie intake.
3. Work out how aggressively you wish to lose weight.
From here, a good way to work out calories needed for cutting is to take between 10 and 25% away. Again, this is dependent on your current condition. Lean, advanced, and concerned about holding onto maximum muscle mass? Then go with just a 10-15% reduction. Starting out, overweight, and new to resistance training? Then you can go with 15-25%.
4. Set protein - multiply your bodyweight (in pounds) by 1-1.4. The leaner & more muscular you are, the more important protein becomes, so you should sit on the above spectrum in accordance with the muscle mass you hold.
E.g. 207lb x 1.2 = 250 (roughly) grams of protein (this equates for 1000 of my maintenance level calories).
5. Set fat - multiply bodyweight (in pounds) by 0.4-0.5. If you prefer to eat more fat, then stick to the higher side, but I wouldn't suggest beginning on anything lower than 0.35.
E.g. 207 x 0.45 = 93. Let's call it 90g of fat. This equates for a further 810 calories of my maintenance level intake.
6. Determine carbohydrate intake from remaining calories. So far I have accounted for 1810 calories from protein & fat, leaving me with 1290 calories for carbs. This leaves me with roughly 320g of carbs per day.
JUST REMEMBER - this is a starting point. You'll have to track your progress & adjust your intake accordingly.
What Can You Eat?
No foods are banned, but higher carb foods are clearly going to be limited. That means you’ll be cutting back pretty severely on bread, pasta, rice, chocolate bars and sweet foods, desserts, potatoes, and even higher carb fruits like bananas and dried fruit.
Seeing as carbs make up the majority of the calories the average person consumes on a daily basis, limiting your carb intake is an easy way to cut back on calories. It’s this decrease in calories that’s really responsible for the weight loss on a low-carb diet, not necessarily the lack of carbs.
Additionally, when going low-carb, most people increase their intake of protein and fibre, which can have a big impact on satiety and fat loss. By eating more meat, fish, low-fat dairy and vegetables, you feel much fuller, and these also have a positive impact on TEF (Thermic Effect of Food – i.e. your metabolic rate) meaning a higher-protein, higher-fibre diet is almost certainly better than a diet low in both.
The main drawback is the fact that carbs themselves are not evil. Adopting the mind-set of believing carbs are bad can cause you to develop a seriously unhealthy relationship with food, and makes socialising and eating out a lot more difficult, as there aren’t too many low-carb options on your average restaurant menu. So as I always say try working within the parameters of the 80/20 rule and make sure you give yourself the benefit of the energy that carbs can supply. Good luck!!