We just came across an excellent article from Examiner about the weight loss and diet industry. Of course, to no one’s surprise, it’s a high growth industry. People are purchasing diet books, specialized exercise equipment, diet pills, and diet supplements extensively, and yet two out of three Americans are still overweight. People are looking for that instant cure for weight loss, that special something that will allow them to eat just like they always have while eliminating a significant amount of fat. There is no instant cure or supplement that will allow you to lose a lot of weight a week while you continue to eat large amounts of junk food. Actually, losing that much weight would not even be healthy.
Examiner points out that there are so many diet plans out there that it is little wonder that everyone is confused over how to lose weight. There are diets that cut out the carbohydrates or protein or dairy or fat; diets where you eat only rice or cabbage soup. Some plans are determined by your body type or your blood type. Some diet plans that say you will lose weight if you eat the right combination of foods no matter what else you eat. One thing most of these diets have in common is that the majority of people who try them inevitably give up on them and gain back any weight they may have lost. Why? Mostly it’s because the diet plans are too complex, too restrictive, or in some cases downright unhealthy.
Now, according to the article, here is the good news. Sustainable fat loss does not involve rocket science or a degree in nutrition. In reality, it is quite simple. The key to weight loss is to understand that you are overweight because you are taking in more calories than you need and so your body is storing the extras as fat. The next step is to create a calorie deficit so that you are burning more than you are taking in. This is what causes you to lose fat.
The first step to creating a calorie deficit is too determine how many calories you need to sustain the weight you are currently at. There is a good calorie calculator on the Mayo Clinic web site. It bases your caloric need on height, weight, gender and activity level. Once you have determined how many calories you need to maintain the weight you are at, subtract 500 calories day. This will ideally give you a one pound a week weight loss. If you also exercise to burn another 500 calories you would lose another pound a week. That is two pounds a week. Be aware that if you are exercising you may actually experience a weight gain some weeks because of the addition of muscle. To confirm your fat loss progress, check measurements as well as weight. Muscle takes up less space than fat so you are getting slimmer if not lighter.
One half to two pounds a week is a healthy weight loss. Two pounds is the amount of fat that your body is capable of processing in a week and studies have shown that losing weight slowly makes it easier to maintain the loss. This is a critical factor for people who have tried diet after diet and lost some weight but quickly put it back on because the diet was too hard or unhealthy to maintain.
Never cut back to less than 1200 calories a day. At less than that, your body decides that there is a food shortage and begins to store fat. This is the opposite of what you are trying to do, so fueling your body sufficiently is important to keeping your metabolism up. Studies have also shown that dividing your calorie intake among five to six small meals a day is preferable to eating three large meals. Not only does this keep your body constantly fueled and less likely to store fat, it also helps to keep you from feeling hungry in between meals. A lot of diets fail because people don’t like to be hungry.