Let me help you out with that one and in regular-person terms, not crazy acronyms and medical words.
Losing weight is simple, in theory, like I’ve said before, it’s just a matter of calories in being less than calories out.
K – let’s dive in.
Everyone’s bodies burn a certain number of calories just sitting still, these are the calories your body uses just to function and live. This stagnant # of calories is called your Resting Metabolic Rate (or Basal Metabolic Rate) but that’s not important, just giving you that little nugget of info in case you wondered.
Anyway, the number of calories you burn just sitting still is based on your age, activity rate (ex: do you exercise everyday and have an active on-your-feet job vs sitting at a desk and never exercising), height and weight. You can increase this calorie burn number by exercising in addition to your “normal” activity. Here’s a little calculator you can use if you’d like to see a guess just based on your age, height & weight.
So, say you burn 1400 calories just sitting still and then you exercise and burn 300 additional calories, you’ve burned 1700 calories today.
Now…on to the next piece.
Just a little number that you need to remember – there are 3500 calories in one pound. That’s to LOSE or GAIN that one pound.
Let’s try and not get too crazy with the numbers BUT every piece of food you put into your mouth has a calorie count. For instance, a big mac with fries and a large coke has 1150 calories. So, say you get a refill on your drink after lunch, then have a donut back at the office, eat a salad for supper and had an egg mcmuffin and cappuccino this morning for breakfast. Your calorie count for your food today is somewhere around 3000.
So, let’s do a little math – you’ve BURNED 1700 calories today just living and with your workout but you’ve consumed 3000 calories. That means your calorie count is in SURPLUS by 1300. Even if you worked out TWICE as hard that day and burn 600 calories working out, you’d still have a surplus of calories of about 1000 calories. So, since you had that surplus today of 1300 (we’ll take away that extra exercise for the purpose of example) and you basically eat the same way and workout the same way everyday, you’ll have a surplus of 9100 calories by the end of the week (1300 surplus x 7 days this week). So, since there’s 3500 calories in a pound, you’ve officially gained 2.6 pounds this week. Seriously.
and think about it, that example I just listed above, you really didn’t eat that much food, did you? Just a sandwich for breakfast, a caffeine drink, a sandwich, fries and drink for lunch, a refilled drink, a donut and a salad (<—yes, a salad).
Your exercise didn’t help either, you were working out HARD and still gained almost 3 pounds, that sucks, right?
Now, since 3500 calories make up a pound to LOSE weight as well, let’s hit another scenario.
Ok, say you NORMALLY eat 3000 calories per day (we’ll use the same scenario above, same foods) and you want to start losing weight. You also exercise and you’re burning around 1700 calories per day between your resting burn and your exercise. Again, same basic scenario as above.
Since we know that there are 3500 calories in a pound, you need to cut your calories per week by 3500 to lose ONE POUND or 7000 to lose TWO POUNDS per week. Two pounds is going to be your maximum for a healthy weight loss per week and since I know everyone wants to lose the max amount per week, we’ll go with that example.
We’ll just turn that same GAINING weight scenario around and say you consume 1700 calories per day (which is technically your break-even point as far as calories in vs calories out), but since your body is used to you eating 3000 cals per day it’s “technically” a deficit of 1300 calories per day. So, if you do that all week, you’re in a deficit of 9100 calories this week which means you’ve LOST that 2.6 pounds you gained last week. YES!
Now, remember when I said it’s calories in vs calories out, right? Well, the reason you lost last week (see above scenario) is because your body was used to consuming those 3000 calories but now since you’ve showed your body to be used to consuming 1700, you’ll need to actually consume less calories next week than you burn (the 1700) to lose weight. My recommendation is to either have someone plan your meals for you (which, ya know, I can do) based on your calorie burn or use a service like myfitnesspal.com to calculate it for you and track every.piece.of.food.and.drinks.that.go.into.your.mouth. This process gets harder and harder as you lose weight too because you’re not going to be using as many calories just to live anymore.
Now, I say all of that but do need to clarify a few things. A woman should never consume less than 1200 calories per day, this is the least amount our bodies need to function correctly but I don’t even recommend going this low, it can cause some major damage to your metabolism and you’ll have an even harder time losing and/or maintaining your weight later on.
Ok, one last thing – do you remember the amount of food you ate in the 1st scenario for the massive amount of calories? Not much, right? Well, here’s an example of all of the food you could have for 1500 calories.
1 whole egg + ½ cup of liquid egg whites
2 slices of turkey bacon
1 slice of whole grain bread (Ezekial)
Light String Cheese
1 cup grapes
4oz of cooked chicken breast (seasoned to taste)
1 cup of vegetable of choice (green beans, peas, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet potato, spinach, etc)
Protein Bar ( Clif, Luna, PowerBar, ProBar, QuestBar are all examples, anything with more than 10 grams and of protein and 200 calories or less is fine).
Turkey Burger + 1 cup spinach + cubed roma tomato + 1 cup any other veggie.
Optional: 1TBsp of a nut butter
That’s A LOT more food and being able to eat a lot more often! It’s just that the calorie counts are MUCH lower than the fast food you had consumed before so you get more bang for your buck. Win/win.
So, that is why you can’t out exercise a bad diet – it’s all about the calories you’re consuming so when you’re eating a “bad diet”, your calorie consumption is going to be higher negating any exercise you do. There’s a bit more to it in breaking down nutrients and things like that BUT, for the purposes of today’s example, this is as simple as it gets!