So… what is the secret to successful weight loss?
This is far and away the most common question that I am asked by my patients, and surely the Number One burning question on the minds of everyone who struggles with weight loss. There is such an abundance of options out there that it can become really confusing to know which path to choose. As a result, many people who struggle with overweight often end up jumping from one diet to the next, or one exercise plan to the next. You may have enjoyed some successes on some of these regimens, but long term success with sustained weight loss may have remained (most frustratingly!) outside of your grasp.
The ‘secret’ is this: At the end of the day, the week, the month, or the year, it is all about creating a Caloric Deficit: Calories In (what you eat) must be less than Calories Out (the energy you spend breathing, moving around, doing daily activities, plus what you burn if you exercise). Of course, this is not news to any of us, but the trick is that you can actually put a number on your personal Calories Out, and from there generate a number for Calories In, such that, if you stick to these numbers, you can guarantee yourself a weight loss of 1 pound per week! Let’s call this number your Personal Caloric Prescription.
There is a very easy way to calculate your Caloric Prescription, and it is located in the right column of this website! It is called the BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) calculator.
The background to this calculation is as follows:
1. One pound of fat contains 3500 calories.
2. To lose 1 pound of fat/week, your daily Calories In needs to be 500 calories less than your daily Calories Out (because 500 cal x 7 days a week = 3500).
So, when you enter your data into the BMR calculator on the right, it will tell you:
a) your BMR (the number of calories you would burn in 24h by simply being still and doing nothing);
b) the total number of calories you would need to eat to maintain your current weight (this takes into account the activity factor your selected as part of the calculation); and
c) Your Caloric Prescription: (b – 500): the target number of calories that you should consume per day, in order to lose 1 lb per week!
**Note that under Activity Level, ‘higher activity level and physical job’ indicates even more activity than ‘hard exercise more than 6 days per week’. Thus, this level is reserved for people who have very active jobs, eg heavy construction work or professional athletes.