The Weight Loss Equation

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AFG.jpgHigh protein, low protein; high carb, low carb; good carbs, bad carbs. The glycemic index is valid; the glycemic index is unproven, misused, and misunderstood. The information on weight loss and nutrition is confusing, and sorting it all out is almost impossible. With well over 65% of us overweight, and over 25% obese, weight loss has become the top priority with most people, including medical professionals. To add to the confusion, many dieters brag about how successful they were on their various diets, and then, in 98% of cases, within five years, gain it all back, and possibly more. So just how does one lose weight and keep it off?

Here in Israel, we consume a daily average of 3,765 calories – far more than we need. For most people, weight gain occurs over an extended period of time. Consuming a mere 50 calories more per day than you need or than you use – which is relatively easy to do – translates into a 5-pound gain per year. Keep that up for a number of years and you will be obese.

Let’s understand some basics about how many calories we need to consume per day in order to maintain our weight, and then see what we need to do to lose some of it.

The first step is to determine our basal metabolic rate (BMR). Simply put, BMR is the number of calories our body uses as energy to sustain itself throughout one day, without doing extra activity or exercise. At rest (i.e. while sitting at the computer or reading), the human body burns only about 12 calories per pound of body weight per day (26 calories per kilogram). (This formula is approximate; you can find metabolic calculators on the Internet.) This means that if you weigh 150 pounds (68 kg), your body uses only about 150 X 12, or 1,800 calories per day. Therefore, in order to lose weight, you need to reduce the number of calories you consume per day. One pound is 3,500 calories, so in order to lose a pound per week, you would need to consume 500 fewer calories per day.
1,000-calorie-a-day-diets DO NOT WORK in the long run and will leave you sorely lacking in nutrients. And a word of caution: consuming too few calories can slow your metabolic rate and cause nutrition deficiencies. Now, since cutting calories can be a difficult task, we need to think not only about calorie consumption, but also about caloric expenditure. By being active – walking instead of driving and taking the stairs instead of the elevator, you could very easily burn 200 calories a day. You would need to cut 300 calories per day to lose one pound per week. If you begin to exercise, you will see the greatest results. You can probably end up losing more than a pound a week if you exercise properly, stay active wherever possible and cut your calories. Aerobic exercise will also greatly improve your cardiovascular health. By doing resistance training, you can actually raise your metabolic rate and keep your muscles and connective tissue in good working order through the aging process.

To reiterate, the overwhelming majority of research to date indicates that 98% of people who try these types of weight loss programs are ultimately not successful. So if you want to lose weight and keep it off, forget about all the diet books out there. Learn basic nutrition! Learn what your nutritional requirements are and eat for your health. Stay active and exercise. This is the combination that works best. Losing weight in a healthy and sensible manner is another way to “add hours to your day, days to your year and years to your life.”

For previous columns, click HERE.

Alan Freishtat is an A.C.E. CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER and a LIFESTYLE FITNESS COACH with over 10 years of professional experience. He is the co-director of the Jerusalem-based weight loss center Lose It! along with Linda Holtz M.A and is available for private consultations, assessments and personalized workout programs. Alan also lectures and gives seminars and workshops. He can be reached at 02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at [email protected].

(Alan Freishtat – YWN)