Friday, April 19, 2013

Know Your Numbers

Whenever someone starts talking about their latest *diet* I cringe.  Not because wanting to lose weight and get in shape is bad, but because 95% of the time they're going about it the wrong way.

Many of the diets available today put your body into starvation mode- having you eat 1200 or fewer calories a day.  Sure, you'll see results right away, but after awhile you stop losing or *gasp* start gaining weight again.  Then you start worrying that there's something wrong with your body and cut calories even further or give up.

But, if you would have just known your numbers, things could have turned out differently.

What do I mean by that?  Simple.  Know how many calories your body has to burn just to exist.

There's a couple different way you can do this.  The most expensive is to have it done at a clinic.  Or, you can use this formula as a starting place:

(your weight in lbs) x 10 + 30% of that number

What does that really look like?  I'll use my numbers as an example because I know them ;)

125 x 10 = 1250
1250 x 1.3 = 1625

What?!?!?  You mean just to maintain where I'm at, without adding in exercise, I could eat 1600 calories a day? Yup.  So, if I was gong to jump on the latest diet craze and drop to 1200 calories a day, I would not be able to function for more than a couple days because my body would refuse to keep functioning like I had been use to.

Oh, but wait.  I said without exercise.  I need to add in more calories for exercise.  Since my main form of exercise is running, I use the estimate that I burn 100 calories per mile (this varies as your body becomes more efficient, but is a good starting place).  So, if I run 21 miles a week, I can eat an average of 300 more calories a day.

Wait, that means I'm eating 1900 calories a day now...

And for all the mamas out there who are nursing, you need to add more calories to help nourish your little bundle of joy.  I would recommend adding  300- 500 calories a day depending on how much they're nursing.

So yes, I eat close to 2200 calories a day to maintain my weight.

But, what does that mean if you're looking to lose weight?  One pound of fat has 3500 calories.  To lose that, you need to create a deficit of about 500 calories a day.  But, before you take that away from the number of calories your eating each day, remember this:

The most effective weight loss is going to come from a combination of diet and exercise.

I prefer that no more than about 250 of the calories needed per day come from a reduction in your diet.  The rest needs to come from a combination of cardio and strength training.  And as you build more muscle, your body will become more efficient at burning calories =)

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