Hello, and welcome my friends to another beautiful day. Please make yourselves comfortable so we can relax and enjoy one of my favorite subjects – fat loss. This has and will be the focus of so many frustrating and failed attempts made by a large percentage of people. Most of this is simply due to a lack of understanding regarding the basic principles of fat loss. When the basics are understood, it’s much easier to move on to some more advanced techniques to shed the unwanted fat. What most programs do is start you at the advanced stage, and just skip over all of the preliminary information. That to me is a backwards approach. It’s like teaching algebra before teaching addition. You need to understand the basics in order to implement them. Someone can preach to you all day, but until you grasp the essence of what is being said it’s just words and ideas. Knowledge is what I aim to arm you with, as it’s knowledge that is power. Power is what everyone needs to overcome any kind of fat loss, be the amount of unwanted fat large or small.
Alright, in the first Fat Loss Facts article the majority of it was spent discussing the issue of creating a caloric deficit, and the methods that are options to employ in order to create the deficit. Today I want to look at how to go about setting your calorie total for the purposes of creating that caloric deficit in order to illicit fat loss. In order to set the calories at a deficit, we first must understand how many calories we are using, or ideally should be using.
In order to do that there are several factors to be considered. This next part is not an exact science, but the numbers that I will suggest do work for anyone I’ve ever encountered that has used this method at my suggestion. If you have an unusually slow metabolism due to something like hypothyroidism for example, then these numbers may not work optimally for you. If you are an average person in the sense that your health is generally good, as I expect it to be considering you are interested in fat loss as opposed to weight loss, then these numbers are a great starting point. Adjustments can always be made as the diet progresses.
The factors to consider are firstly, our resting metabolic rate. A general guideline to follow is that women use 10 calories per pound of body weight, and men use 11. 40 percent of these calories are used to create heat. That’s why we are usually much warmer that the temperature outside. Although if you have been experiencing the same temperatures in your part of the world as we have been here in Toronto, then that isn’t always the case. The rest of those calories are used to keep the complex machine that is your body running. Things like digestion, and repair of tissues and bones to name a couple of the many processes.
Once you have done the above, then you have to factor in activity levels. Assuming you are fairly active, which of course you are due to the fact that you train regularly, then you can add an additional 30-50 percent to that calorie total which changes that 10-11 calorie per pound of body weight to something more like 13-15 calories per pound. This estimate takes into account that you perform an hour of exercise per day at a decent level of intensity.
Then there is the thermic effect of food, which I talked about in the first Fat Loss Facts article at some length. The general consensus seems to be that roughly 10 percent of the calories we consume are wasted as heat. That number skews more in favor of protein and less in favor of fat, but we are using round numbers for this example. That changes that 13-15 calories per pound to 14-16 calories per pound of body weight, in women and men respectively.
So we now are at a starting point of 14 calories per pound of body weight for women, and 16 for men simply due to the fact that men tend to have faster metabolisms. I have a problem with that assumption however, because the women that read at this site train harder and more often than your average man. I can guarantee you that. So I’m taking the liberty of declaring that sex is of no issue in the formula that we will be working on from this point forward. Let’s say that the starting point for women and men is 16 calories per pound of body weight. There, I feel a lot better. Really. It seems ridiculous to me to suggest that men in general use more calories when exercise is factored in. As I stated above, I know many women that train extremely hard, and I know full well what my readership is, and I include them in the hard training category.
Now, keep in mind that this 14-16 calories per pound of body weight for women and men is a general estimation, but a good starting point nonetheless. Anyone can use these numbers that we are using here today, and simply adjust if there is no change after a week. Wait at least a week though, as part of our body’s method of maintaining homeostasis is to fill a fat cell that is depleted of its contents with water in an attempt to maintain cellular volume. Within a week or so the fat cell will give up this water after it learns that it is no longer needed due to the fact that the body is no longer accumulating body fat, and is losing it instead.
On average, we can expect to lose between half and a full pound of fat per week, if we are in decent shape to begin with. The more body fat one has, the higher that weekly loss can be. Before you get disappointed at the though of only losing half a pound per week, that is six pounds in three months of pure fat. If you have ever seen what this stuff looks like, that is a considerable amount of volume to lose. Fat takes up a lot of space, so losing half a pound of pure body fat is very good. If this is a lifestyle, then this is coming off permanently and your patience will be rewarded. Please trust me on that last point. As per the suggestions I give in The Lose And Cruise Method, slower is better.
This number is of course not a set number. The loss of several pounds per week is possible depending on activity levels. I stress activity levels, as simply lowering your calories only works for a short period of time before our body adjusts. It simply will become more efficient and offset the caloric deficit by using less energy. This obviously is not a good long-term solution, because if this cycle continues for long what happens is you end up with a super slow metabolism while at the same time barely eating. This is a great way to gain a lot of body fat, because sooner or later you are going to cave in and begin eating. It’s going to take a while for that suppressed metabolism to catch up however, so all those extra calories are going to be stored as you guessed it – fat.
If one were to be extremely inactive even if they trained, but spent the rest of the time lounging around then the total number of calories would have to be adjusted further. It’s always assumed that if we do exercise in the gym, that we have done all we can do to lose body fat. If we spend the other 23 hours sleeping, sitting at a desk, or in front of the television, then that hour of exercise won’t be enough to offset all of the inactivity.
Having said all of the above, where does that leave us in terms of a starting point to set our calorie total to create a deficit and begin losing body fat? Well, if you train hard and have a decent level of activity the rest of the day, then a 20 percent reduction in overall energy intake will be a great place to begin. This turns that 14-16 calories per pound into 11-13 calories per pound. That means that if you weigh 150 pounds, to pick an arbitrary number for the purposes of giving an example, you would begin your fat loss phase by consuming between 1650 and 1950 calories. That will very likely get you well on your way to losing all that unwanted fat, and I would venture to suggest that it will come of relatively quickly. Especially if you are doing the right kind of cardiovascular activity.
Now we know that in order to lose body fat we need to create a caloric deficit, and we looked at was of doing so. Using those methods coupled with the above formula for calculating your caloric intake, you now have the beginnings of a basic diet outline. There is of course the issue of how to break down your macro nutrients within the parameters of the formulas we have discussed here today, and that is precisely what I will be getting into in the next article.