Thankfully our travels last week were not too damaging and I was able to get back on track when I returned home. This week deemed successful and I lost another pound. Regardless of all the tips I share with you or all the secret pound dissolving diets you read about or the latest fad diet, it all boils down to one concept: the calories you take in are less than the calories burn. In other words, you eat less than you need.
Weight loss: Calories in < Calories out
It is a simple equation but in reality it is not easy to achieve. So what exactly is a calories? A calorie is that little thing in your closet that sews you clothes in at night and makes them smaller. No really, calories are simply a measurement of how much energy a food contains. According to the United States Department of Agriculture USDA the average women between the ages of 26 and 50 with a moderate activity level needs 2000 calories a day to maintain her weight and men between the ages of 26 and 45 need 2400. For more calorie needs please visit: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/USDAFoodPatterns/EstimatedCalorieNeedsPerDayTable.pdf. But based on what my professors said in college and personal experience, most middle aged women of a moderate activity level need 1700-1800 calories a day to maintain their weight.
Now that you know how many calories you need, how many do you need to cut down to fulfill the equation of calories in < calories out? One pound or half a kilo of fat is 3500 calories. In order to lose one pound a week, you need to reduce your intake or increase you output by 500 calories a day. Meaning you can eat 300 less calories a day and burn 200 more calories a day exercising resulting in a deficit of 500 calories a day.
If you maintain the 500 calorie definite for 7 days, you will lose a pound.
How do you know you are maintaining the deficit? Record what you eat and log your exercise. Recent studies show individuals who keep food journals six days a week lose twice as much weight as people who do not. It does not matter how you do it, it just matters that you do it. Some people prefer to write it down on a piece of paper, other record it on their computer and some use different apps on their smart phones. Writing down what you eat keeps you aware of exactly what you are eating, you can see how much you have eaten and modify for the rest of the day. It also helps you identify food triggers, intolerances and eating patterns. By recording what I eat, I was able to identify that I over eat at night because I do not eat enough for lunch. Eating a heftier lunch helps me get through the evening better. It also helps me make better choices for dinner, if I only have 350 calories left for dinner, I am careful to choose food that will fill me up instead of wasting them on some plain pasta that will leave me hungry in a couple of hours.
Personally I prefer using my iPhone to record my eating. It is with me wherever I go and there are hundreds of apps to choose from. I tried at least 30 myself and my favorite is My Fitness Pal. This is not an endorsed advertisement, it is just my personal opinion. The data base is huge, I can usually find the food I am looking for which is not easy for me since I eat a lot of authentic Arabic and Mediterranean dishes. The downside is there are so many entries for the same food with different caloric values it is sometimes hard to decide which one is most accurate for your dish. My Fitness Plan also includes an exercise log and other nutrient calculations like iron, calcium, portion and others. The second runner up in my opinion is Nutrition Menu, it has a nice interface, easier data entry and it shows the fat, carbohydrate and protein intake for each day in a pie chart which is really cool but it's data base is nowhere near as extensive as My Fitness Plan and it costs $1.99 where MFP is free.
In short there are many different methods to weight loss but the main concept is calories in < calories out. Do it the healthy, sustainable way: slow and steady wins the race. You will get there, just find the method that works for you and stick to it.