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Introduction to Weight Loss

September 30, 2012

Obesity Epidemic scaleIt is no secret that obesity is one of the largest (hehe) problems currently facing Americans. Currently 34% of Americans are obese and another 34% of Americans are overweight. This means a full 68% of Americans weight more than they should. A recent study showed that if current trends continue, more than 50% of Americans will be obese by 2030. Given all of these extra pounds of fat Americans have accumulated, one would assume that losing weight is really hard if not impossible. I am here to tell you that is false. Losing weight is easy if you know the right information.

The prevailing wisdom these days is to lose weight you need to move more and eat less, in other words diet and exercise. While this is true, it is much more complicated than that. Eat less, but how much less? When should I eat? How often should I eat? What should I eat? How many calories are in the food I eat? I will answer all of these questions for you.

How many calories should you eat a day to lose weight?

The average person will burn approximately 12 calories per pound per day. This means that a 200 pound person can eat roughly 2,400 calories per day without gaining or losing weight if they are not exercising. So in order to lose weight our hypothetical 200 pound man will need to eat fewer than 2,400 calories to drop weight. I would recommend trying to eat 300 to 400 calories less than you need to maintain your weight. If you can cut more than that, then go for it but don’t eat less than 60% of your maintenance calories per day or you may damage your metabolism.

So how quickly will you lose weight if you cut 300 calories out of your diet? Well 3,500 calories are in one pound of fat, so you will drop 1 pound every 12 days! This means you will only lose .6 pounds each week, which is much slower than most people would like to lose weight.

Why is it hard to lose weight?

The typical American diet consists of a lot of processed carbs, dairy and added sugar. The problem with these foods are that they increase your insulin. Insulin is a hormone that sends a message to your body to store the sugar in your blood elsewhere because your blood sugar is too high. The problem is that it also makes you more hungry and tells your body to store fat. Having a high insulin level also makes it impossible to burn fat because high insulin blocks the process of turning fat into energy even if you are eating fewer calories than you need to survive. Eating foods that increase your insulin is why dieting feels like such a chore.

How do I eat paleo?

Basically the paleo diet is eating meat, poultry, sea food, eggs, vegetable, fruits and nuts. You need to cut out all of the carbs (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and corn), all the dairy (milk, ice cream, cheese), added sugar (soda, cookies, cake, candy) and legumes (peas, beans, soy and peanuts). Unfortunately there is added sugar and soy in almost every processed food available, so you need to cook all your meals from scratch. Learn more about the paleo diet here.

When and how often should I eat?

There are all kinds of incorrect information about when and how often to eat when dieting. I am not going to go into a lot of detail and just tell you it doesn’t matter. Whether it is 3 larger meals a day or 6 small meals a day, just do what works for you. It also doesn’t matter if you eat within 2 hours before you go to sleep.

Exercise is important for weight loss

exercise treadmill cardio runningEvery weight loss program should have exercise built into it. Without exercise it is difficult to lose more than a pound of fat per week. If you are out of shape, then start slow (literally slow) and just walk. Start off with walking 30 minutes per exercise session. When you adjust to walking, try walking faster. Once you are comfortable walking quickly, jog for 5 out of your 30 minutes of exercise. Slowly over time increase the portion of exercise that is jogging until you are jogging all 30 minutes. If you don’t have a full 30 minutes, try to squeeze however much cardio you have time for even if it is just 5 minutes.

Try to exercise at least 3 times per week. Ideally you should exercise 5 or 6 times a week but everyone has a busy schedule these day. Just go to the gym as often as you can. At first focus on cardio (walking/running/biking). Once you have a comfortable cardio routine under control, add in some weight lifting. It is important to lift weights while you are losing weight because if don’t then 25% to 30% of the weight you lose will be muscle. One study showed that people who weight lift in addition to cardio and dieting lose 56% more fat than people who don’t lift weight.

In addition to normal exercise at the gym, try to be more active. Walk to the grocery store if it is close enough. Park further from stores and work to increase the steps you take. Garden and do house work to burn calories. Do run activities you enjoy, like salsa dancing to help you lose weight.

I hope this guide has been helpful to you. I have had so much trouble losing weight in the past. Now that I have figured out the secrets, I want to share all the useful information to help the rest of America shed those extra pounds. If you have any questions, leave a comment and I will answer them.

18 Comments
  1. I have a question. My personal trainer has me doing circuit training with her twice a week and incorporates weights into each exercise. According to her I should only lift weights one other day giving myself 48hours to heal between weight lifting. However, there are some days, the day after lifting with her, that I want to do weights again and my muscles aren’t sore at all. Is it counter productive to use weights again the following day?

    • It depends on what muscle groups you are working out. If you lift chest and shoulders on day 1 it is ok to lift back muscles the next day, but you shouldn’t lift the same muscle group two days in a row. I would also avoid triceps the day after chest because you work out the triceps during a chest day. I will often work out my legs on the day between two upper body days.

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