Weight Loss as Easy as 1 2 3? Focus on the Numbers

Weight Loss as Easy as 1 2 3? Focus on the Numbers

David Schutz

Are you thinking about losing weight? Well whether you’re just beginning or you’ve already started your weight loss journey, understanding some of the numbers can help. Why? Look, we’ve all seen it. Every week there’s another diet craze promising immediate results being promoted on the web or by some Hollywood star. However, the reality is that the slimmer figure you want is best achieved – and best maintained – if you start by knowing some simple numbers. What are they?

1 or 2That’s the number of pounds to lose per week to shoot for. Studies show those numbers are achievable and lead to the most sustainable weight loss.
5-10Research shows that losing as little as 5-10 percent of your body weight has a disproportionately positive effect on improving your health, including significantly reducing the risk of illnesses, from heart disease and diabetes to some kinds of cancer.
14-25For men, a body-fat percentage between 14 – 25 percent is considered healthy. The lower the number, the more fit you are.
21-30For women, a body-fat percentage between 21 – 30 percent is considered healthy. The lower the number, the more fit you are.
3500A pound of fat has 3500 calories.

From Numbers to Simple Math

It doesn’t matter what your goal is, or where you start from: losing weight boils down to a simple equation:

The number of calories you take in must be less than calories out.

Put another way:

Calories burned must be greater than calories consumed.

It's worth noting here that the exercises most widely considered to be the best calorie burners include swimming, cycling, running, cross country skiing, rowing, and resistance training. It's a great idea to track what you do. There's a great article on bikemunk.com about different software to track cycling. Check it out!

To find out how many calories you burn, or your basal metabolic rate (BMR), use this link on Calculator.net. Everyone has a baseline number of calories needed to maintain their current weight. The number differs according to your gender, weight, activity level—and your age.

It’s important to realize that your calorie needs decline as you get older. As we age, our metabolism slows about 5 percent each decade.

The challenge is that we establish our eating habits in our 20s and 30s, and if you maintain those habits you’ll find you add pounds. You can counteract this fact of life by exercising and lifting weights to keep your muscle mass.

To find out how many calories you consume, myfitnesspal has the most comprehensive database of foods. Create a profile, log in daily and record your food. It can seem tedious at first, but most people will find that within a couple of weeks you have a pretty good feel for how many calories you’re consuming. Even if you choose not to count calories, it’s worth understanding a few key points about them.

Calculate the weeks to your desired weight.

Once again, the lasting, sustainable weight loss starts with the realistic goal of losing 1 to 2 pounds per week. All you have to do is know your BMR, then commit to consuming 500 to 1000 calories less per day than your BMR.

BMR – 500 per day = 1 pound per week.

BMR – 1000 per day = 2 pounds per week.

One thing: while you may be tempted to expedite your weight loss by drastically limiting your food, that strategy can backfire. If you eat less than 1,200 calories a day you’ll actually slow your metabolism, and eating less than 900 calories a day sends your body into starvation mode, slowing your metabolism by as much as 20 percent.

3 thoughts on “Weight Loss as Easy as 1 2 3? Focus on the Numbers”

  1. Learn from the successful "losers" -- people who've maintained a major weight loss over several years -- on the National Weight Control Registry.
  2. It all starts with that aha moment, when you decide you're going to lose weight -- and this time, it will be for good.
  3. Think of it as a hill to climb; when you get to the top, you'll be thrilled to see how easy it will be going forward.

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