Alright, let’s get straight to it. On any given day, 40% to 50% of women around the world are trying to lose weight. Yes, you heard that right. As we speak, HALF of the female identifying population around the world are trying to lose weight. 50% of women worldwide are constantly striving to get smaller and, let’s face it, a lot of them are failing to meet their goal on a regular basis. So let’s finally answer the question, once and for all. How do you actually lose weight? Well, in part one of our weight loss series, we should first talk about calories.
Let’s start with the obvious principle. In order to lose weight, you must consume less calories than you burn. What does that mean and what in the heck are calories? Specific to weight loss, calories are units of energy that are sourced by food and help us sustain daily life. You are expending calories as we speak by simply “existing"; talking, walking, sleeping, heck, even breathing all burn calories. While your body has a fairly standard amount of calories it burns on a daily basis, that amount can increase based on how much you exercise and/or simply move throughout the day. The harder you workout, the higher your heart rate goes, the more energy your body needs to function properly, the more calories you burn. And voila, you are now burning more calories.
Now, let’s talk about calories and food. Food provides the energy we need to get through our day. However, not all foods/calories are created equal. Certain foods provide more calories than others, like how a scoop of ice cream has more calories than a banana. But don’t get me wrong— ice cream isn’t a better energy source than a banana. While ice cream has more calories, those are empty calories devoid of nutritional goods, like fiber, vitamins, protein, and healthy carbs while a banana is nutritious, filling, and full of healthy minerals like potassium. Foods from the earth and natural sources, like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and animal products will always be superior to foods made with chemicals, additives, and sugar, no matter the calorie content.
Now, let’s put that all together. Your body needs calories to survive; we get our calories from food and certain foods provide better calories/energy than others. However, what happens if our body burns more calories than it takes in or vice versa? That’s where the magic OR damage happens. Let’s talk damage first. Say you eat more calories than you burn on a daily basis, aka you eat 1,600 calories a day but only burn 1,300 calories a day. Those extra calories get stored in our body as fat to be used as an extra calorie source later. If you continue to eat more calories than you burn then you will continue to add fat to your body, increasing your size, and busting out the buttons of your jeans. So to sum that up, when you eat too much and don’t move enough, you will gain weight.
Now, let’s talk magic, aka the necessary calorie equation for weight loss. If you burn more calories than you take in your body won’t have enough food-derived calories to sustain it. Remember those fat stores we talked about? Your body will use that stored energy to get it through the day and keep you moving. That means that your body will burn through your fat stores and you will lose weight. Let’s sum that up again, but with numbers we used earlier. If you run for 60 minutes and burn 500 calories, that tacked on to your daily calorie burn brings you to a burn of 1,800 calories a day. Remember how you were eating 1,600 calories a day? Cut that down to 1,400 by eating healthier foods. An intake of 1,400 calories a day with an output of 1,800 calories a day means that your body is burning 400 more calories a day than it’s taking in. That calorie deficit allows your body to dip into its fat stores, burn that fat, and thus, you lose weight!
Final summary: calories are units of energy found in food and needed by our body to sustain daily life. Some foods provide better calories than others. Every body burns a certain amount of calories a day and certain intensive activities, like exercise, add to your body’s calorie output. If your body takes in more calories than it burns, (aka if you eat more calories than you put out), you will store those extra calories as fat. If you put out more calories than you take in, (aka if you exercise more and eat less), you will burn through those fat stores and lose weight. Now, let’s say it again, louder for those in the back; IF YOU EXERCISE, BURN MORE CALORIES, AND EAT LESS CALORIES, YOU WILL LOSE WEIGHT!
Is the eat less/burn more principle the be all and end all? No, certainly not. But it’s a good start. Tune in for part two of this series, how to lose weight. Have fun burning those calories, friends!