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Losing Weight and Keeping It Off- The Science and Math of Weight Loss

While science and math may scare many people, I am going to simplify those two subject as they apply to weight loss. To get started it is important to understand that in order to lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume or consume less calories than you burn, you can look at it either way. This begs the question, how many calories do I need to burn in order to lose weight?

To burn 1 pound of fat, you will need to burn 3500 calories more than you consume. To break it down over the course of a week, you will need to burn 500 more calories per day than you consume. If you want to lose 2 pounds per week, you need to burn 1000 more calories per day than you consume, which adds up to 7000 calories for the week. This leads to our next question, how much weight should I aim to lose per week?

If you look on any prominent health and fitness website or look at literature from the top fitness certifying organizations (ACSM, NASM, etc.) they will note that healthy weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. What happens if you lose more? There is a good chance that anything past 2 pounds per week is a loss in lean body tissue which is most likely water weight or muscle mass. You will want to avoid muscle mass loss because muscle mass plays a major role in keeping your metabolic rate high. If you would like to see what you metabolic rate is, visit our Metabolic Rate Calculator page to see how many calories you burn in a day!

Now that you have checked your metabolic rate to see how many calories you will burn, what is the best way to track food and liquid consumption? You track how many calories you consume in a day and compare it to how many you burn in a day. Here are 2 easy way to track what you consume:

  • Keep a written journal with everything that you consume as well as the calorie counts
  • Use an app like MyFitnessPal that already has calorie counts and is much easier to use (Highly Recommended)

It is extremely important to be accountable and truly track everything that you consume. Just because you didn’t track doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, despite what some people may think. If you can’t be accountable to yourself in accurately reporting your food and liquid intake, you will struggle. An app like MyFitnessPal will also be able to give you an estimate for how many calories you burn in a day as well so that you know exactly how many calories you need to eat.

Now that you have this information, feel free to adjust your SMART goals as necessary then it’s on to Formulating a Plan!