I remember one of my body pump class mates telling me jokingly that the only way to ensure weight loss was to wire your jaw shut. pretty funny, but I have to disagree, even though she was only having a laugh.
Losing weight that way might work temporarily because you’re effectively creating a calorie deficit but what happens when you start eating food again?
I’ve been successfully losing weight, over the past two years, without much fluctuation, even during holidays or stressful times in our lives, without having to wire my jaw shut, by just following the simple basics of nutrition, which i’ll share with you now.
To lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit.
To gain weight you need to be in a calorie surplus
And to maintain weight you need to be in calorie maintenance.
What this essentially means is that we all have a unique calorie range where we lose, gain or maintain weight. Notice I say range and not exact number.
And this range is completely unique to us, the range can change and is impacted by so many factors, like our goals, age, current weight, gender, previous diet history, overall health, and genetics just to name a few.
So it’s safe to say that my calorie requirements are different to yours and vice versa.
For the purposes of this podcast and because it’s likely you’re most interested in weight loss not gaining or maintain, let’s discuss the calorie deficit.
Understanding your own unique calorie deficit range can take a little bit of trial and error and some patience and a committment to keeping accurate records (which sounds boring but hear me out, once you get used to it, it just becomes a habit like brushing your teeth every day). Once you determine your own calorie deficit range you become empowered with the knowledge and understanding it takes to manage your weight in a way that doesn’t require you to starve yourself and to feel at ease with trusting the weight loss process, knowing you will for sure reach your body goals.
It’ll be like everything falling into place and you’ll not only have control but freedom too, to start living life on your terms, and being able to manage your weight while still enjoying life.
So how do you work out your own unique calorie deficit range?
The best way I suggest is to use a formula to kick you off initially, then monitor your own personal results based on how your body reacts.
I use the Harris-Benedict Equation but to save you having to do the math you can use my own own online calculator here www.robynjlaw.com/tools.
You’ll need to input your age, height, gender, weight and your activity levels. I don’t place too much importance on your activity levels, and I just chose lightly active, – this is really not that important at this point, what’s most important is setting an achievable calorie allowance for you and it being achievable for you right now.
After a week or two of hitting your targets and being consistent then you’ll be able to see if you’re losing gaining or maintaining.
But remember this only works if you’re compliant to you calorie target. Meaning that you are managing to hit your targets, not under or overshooting.
And anything less than a week or two of consistency just isn’t going to give yo the information you need.
So for me that looked like after a period of eating really low calories and dieting the wrong way and having reached a plateau plus feeling like complete shit and having little to no energy, I input my data into the calculator to come up with my new starting point. The calorie target for me was around I750 calories. At first it seemed a bit high for me, but after two weeks of hitting these targets and still experiencing steady weight loss, I realised I was in a calorie deficit. Which is exactly where you want to be to lose weight.
If I hadn’t lost weight after two weeks of eating at those calories, then I would have adjusted it slightly lower. Maybe by reducing it by 50- a hundred calories per day.
It’s important to note if your one of those type A personalities (no offence because I used to identify as type A too and I get you) – that going extremely lower than your predicted calorie deficit range IS NOT GOING TO YIELD YOU FASTER AND BETTER RESULTS.
What I mean by this is if your predicted calorie deficit is 1,750 calorie and you think, well I’m going to do you one better and make it 1,500 calories per day, this is not wise nor recommended.
It can be tempting to want to eat even less than it, to rapid fire your weight loss, but it doesn’t’ work like that. Sure you may drop a couple of quicker kgs initially, however, the lower you go in your calorie intake at first, the less room you have to move as your body adapts to it’s new normal. When your weight loss stalls what are you going to do? Will you drop to even lower calories where you’re going to be even more miserable.
You want to really give yourself as much of a chance to succeed as possible or else you’re not going to last long enough to reach your target.
It’s also important that you don’t continue to under-consume below your Basal Metabolic Rate because that’s when your body, smart as she is, will instinctively conserve energy due to the low amount of fuel your consuming. So you’ll start to do things like, move less, feel tired and overall just feel like crap.
So the absolute basics of nutrition for weight loss are that to be in weight loss mode, you need to create a calorie deficit.
The way you create this deficit is completely up to you and something I discuss in greater detail in my book The Body Plan available here