Less Calories In, More Calories Out = Weight Loss

Less Calories In, More Calories Out = Weight Loss (It's Not That Simple)

The above title is the basis of almost every diet in existence and it should be. Now the problem with this simple theory is one that many people get wrong which is why they never see the results that they want. It is much more complicated. Many people are under the impression that "as long as I eat less calories than I burn I will lose weight". On the surface, this makes perfect sense but, it is not that simple.

Below are some prime examples:

  • Most people do not know their RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate). Your RMR is the amount of calories your body burns each day with no activity. 
  • Most people have an elevated guess of how many calories they burn when they work out. Generally people are burning far less (about 50% less) than they think.
  • Most people think they eat far less calories than they really consume (up to 75% more calories on average). This difference is not due to lack of knowledge of how many calories each food has in it as much as hidden calories in foods that we do not count. Grabbing a handful of pretzels on the run, eating a few small pieces of candy while in a co-workers office, tasting your food while you are preparing dinner for the family and the worst is finishing food off your children's plate so it does not go to "waste" (it actually goes to waist instead).
  • People eat one large meal a day and consume their whole day's calories in that meal rather than breaking it down over 5-6 smaller meals that your body has time to burn.

If your RMR is, for example, 1200 calories per day (this means without any exercise your body is burning 1200 calories doing nothing), a simple theory is to cut out calories from your diet and you should lose weight, right? I mean, it makes sense, if you burn 1200 calories why not drop it back to 700 a day and you will be burning off an extra 500 calories a day, 500 X 7 days = 4000 (equals 1lb of fat). WOW, that seems easy, right? Well, that is where many people go wrong on trying to lose weight. Your body needs to maintain a certain amount of calories to stay alive and maintain that RMR. If you cut your diet back 500 calories a day, your metabolic rate will quickly drop to compensate for the drop in calories. Your body goes into a starvation mode which slows your metabolic rate to preserve itself. Now if you can't just cut a bunch of calories out of your diet what should be done? The rule of thumb I use is to figure out what your RMR is, then take only 10% off that total and that is the calorie intake you should be achieving each day, every day. So in the above example you would be taking in 120 calories below your RMR or 1080 which is not drastic but it is enough to give you a caloric deficit to help you lose weight. Now 120 calories per day would take you 29 days to lose a pound and who wants to wait that long? This is where you must increase the caloric deficit and this is done through resistance training and cardiovascular exercise.

Using the same above information you should do the following and there would be no reason you would not lose weight.

  1. Figure your RMR. See your doctor or hire a personal trainer to help you determine this number.
  2. Revamp your diet and reduce the RMR caloric amount by 10%
  3. Add resistance and cardiovascular training to your weekly routine and try to burn 200-300 calories per day for beginners. 

If you implement the above simple changes to your life, you will lose 1lb of FAT each 8.333 days. This is a safe amount of weight to lose. Now think about this; what if you pushed your caloric expenditure to 400-500 a day but pushing harder on your training you can lose 1lb of FAT every 5.65 days.

Something else to consider when planning to lose weight, your RMR is based on your total body weight and then the ratio between Lean Body Tissue and Fat. The more fat you have the lower your RMR will be. When doing resistance training, you will add lean muscle tissue to your body at the same time you are losing fat. Your RMR will increase which means you will be burning more calories and losing more fat. It is important to recheck your RMR every 6-8 weeks or as you lose weight. This number will change and you want to keep your calorie intake at no more than 10% below your RMR.

Now that you understand calorie intake and output for losing weight, let's talk about meal planning and timing. Remember I said above that you can't take your whole day's calories in at once? To help people understand how your body uses foods for energy and how more meals are better than one even if the calories are the same; this example will help you, if you still do not understand, please send me an email and I will help explain it more thoroughly.

You start a fire in your fireplace (think of the fire as your RMR). The fire is burning at a medium amount of flames and is creating heat. What will happen if I do not "feed" the fire with more wood? The fire will go out! Just like your RMR will get lower and burn less calories if you do not provide it food. Now on the other hand, that same fire is going and you toss in 10 large blocks of wood what will happen? The fire will get smothered and the flames will go out, all that is left is big blocks of wood (body fat). So it is always better to toss in one block of wood every 3-4 hours which will feed the fire and make it bigger and hotter than tossing in all the wood for the day and smothering it. Your body works the exact same way, feed your body every 3-4 hours with a smaller meal (total calories needed per day broken down over 5-6 meals) will keep your RMR or "fire" burning hot and it will use all the food you put in each time and it will not store it for later use.

This is a lot to consider when trying to lose weight, lose fat and become healthier. Anyone can do it, anyone can learn and teach their bodies to respond properly. Sometimes, it is just too much information for an individual to try to learn and act upon without expert help. A qualified personal trainer is that expert just like a surgeon is the expert when you go into surgery. You would never try to learn or to do surgery on yourself over the internet or reading it out of Surgery Monthly would you? Then why would you try to learn how to become more fit and healthy from a magazine like Muscle & Fiction? Every person is different, every person needs a customized diet, exercise and motivational plan. A qualified personal trainer is what you are seeking.


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