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Rotortramp's Guide to Losing Weight


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Inspired by the Liposuction thread, I thought I'd write up a little guide to help those of you wanting to lose weight.


Disclaimer: Everyone has their own opinions about losing weight and being healthy. These are the general ideas that I have found to be true, but you may have your own ways that work better and counter this advice.


The Big 3:

  • Calories = Weight
  • Macros = Body Composition
  • Micros = Health



Calories = Weight:


The easiest way to understand how calories work is to compare it to a typical engine. In fact, a lot of people don't know this, but a gallon of gasoline actually contains 31,000 calories. In simple terms, a calorie is just a unit of heat energy. You'd never give your car too much gas and the same applies to your body. If you have an idling engine, it will use its fuel (calories) much slower then one that is being red lined or cruising down the highway (sprints and long distance running).


The trick is to find your Basal Metabolic Rate, BMR, which is also referred to as your calories burned at rest. You then add in your lifestyle and general activities, and you will find the amount of calories that your body burns in a day (also known as your maintenance calories). Give it too much, and it'll just store it for use later (i.e belly); don't give it enough, and it starts to tap into its reserves (i.e losing weight). In my opinion it is best to drop your calories by 500 under your maintenance to begin losing weight.


For example: Say your daily calorie expenditure is 2300 calories. Dropping that by 500 gives you a target of1800. Your body will do one of two things: keep running optimally at 2300 and drawing the needed calories from its reserves of fat, or start to throttle back and give signals to rest and sleep so that its only burning 1800 calories. It is very important to keep the same level of activity and intensity when on a calorie deficit.


A pound of fat is 3500 calories. So therefore, if you cut out 500 calories per day, you will lose 1 pound of fat per week (7x500). Saying "a pound of fat per week" is somewhat misleading as your weight loss can also come from lean mass (muscle) as well. It's best to view it as a shrinking of your body from all different sources.


Macros = Body Composition:


The calories in food are determined by the macronutrients (also called macros). They are the Proteins, Carbs, and Fats and determine the composition, or "look", of your body.


1 gram of protein = 4 calories

1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories

1 gram of fat = 9 calories


The best example to tie this to is the general rule of thumb of bodybuilders needing a lot of protein. If you eat nothing but 1800 calories of table sugar, your body will look like it has eaten nothing but 1800 calories of table sugar. Your mother's saying of "you are what you eat" still holds true. You can absolutely lose weight by eating a disproportionate amount of proteins, carbs, and fats, but your body composition and general alertness will suffer. I won't go too far into this, but its best to figure out how much of each category you need and hit those goals in a day. Your body will thank you, and retain a lot of its muscle mass and overall energy levels as you lose weight.


Note: As shown above, fat has more than double the calories per gram than its protein and carb counterparts. You can easily bust through your target of 2300 calories without even feeling full if your diet contains too much fat. NEVER cut out fat from your diet, but merely respect it. It is needed for a healthy brain and other bodily functions.


Micros = Health:


Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals in food. This is tied to your overall health and well being. If you eat poor quality sources of proteins/carbs/fats, you will most likely feel the effects of lethargy and a decreased immune system. So as an example, eating 150 calories of apple is much "healthier" for you than eating 150 calories of candy. They are both carbohydrates, and will theoretically lead to the same body composition, but you will feel much worse eating the candy than you did the apple (vitamin A and C). You may not feel the immediate effects of vitamin deficiencies, but they can lead to damages over time. And no I do not recommend eating multi vitamins to make up for this.




So if you package all these things together you are eating quality foods under your caloric maintenance. Losing weight doesn't have to be a chore or eating rice cakes in a dark corner. You can have an extremely varied diet, and most likely continue eating what you are now with a few tweaks and portion control. You now have the tools you need to treat your body as an engine, versus the dark mystery a lot of people consider it. There really is no such thing as eating "healthy" to lose weight, as its very very easy to eat perceived healthy foods, and still gain weight. If you ate 3000 calories of salad (while a massive challenge) you would gain weight and most likely be at a loss for words if you didn't read this quick guide. :) On the flip side however, many of the meals at restaurants can hit 3000 calories before even getting to desert. The best thing you can do is just budget the calories during the day and you can still enjoy life.


I highly recommend the website http://www.myfitnesspal.com as it will help you to track your calories and hit all of your macronutrient and micronutrient goals. The best thing about it is that it has a massive database to find the foods you are eating. You can look up things such as a generic apple or Kelloggs Frosted Flakes and it will plug it into your profile and list all of the pertinent information.


Final Note: Don't forget to keep an eye on sodium and make sure you get enough fiber!



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