I guess we’ll call this my flagship post, because it will contain pretty much everything you need to know about how to lose weight. I’m going to break it down like this: we’ll start with the most important factor for weight loss, and then we’ll go down the line of other factors that play a role. Sort of like a hierarchy of weight loss, if you will. So, let’s get started.
1. Calorie Deficit
A calorie deficit is the most important factor to lose weight. But what is a calorie deficit? A calorie deficit is simply burning more calories than you consume.
It’s pretty obvious (hopefully) the calories you consume are simply what you eat on a daily basis. No confusion there. How you burn calories or TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) includes 4 main factors:
RMR or Resting Metabolic Rate. This is what your body burns to maintain daily function – your heart beat, breathing, metabolic processes within the body, keeping your brain running, etc. You can Google “resting metabolic rate calculator” to estimate your RMR. This will be, by far, the largest caloric expense on a daily basis.
Thermic Effect of Feeding. This is what your body burns during digestion. Protein has the highest thermic effect of feeding with 20-35% of calories burned through digestion. Carbs come in second at 5-15% of calories burned through digestion, and fats have only 0-5% of calories burned through digestion (Roussell 1).
Exercise. Obviously, you burn calories through exercise or physical activity. Increasing your exercise routine will increase the calories you burn and can help create a calorie deficit to help you lose weight.
N.E.A.T. (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis). According to pubmed.gov, N.E.A.T is “the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, undertaking agricultural tasks and fidgeting” (Mayo Clinic). Increasing your N.E.A.T by simply adding in activities like walking can definitely be helpful in weight loss. I love lifting and cardio, and they’re great for health. But none of that matters for weight loss if you’re not creating a calorie deficit or negative energy balance.
So, to summarize, the number of calories you burn through RMR, the thermic effect of feeding, structured exercise and N.E.A.T must be greater than the number of calories you consume. As a general rule, you can take your bodyweight in lbs. x 10-12 to create a slight calorie deficit. If you’re a very active person, you’ll be closer to 12. A more sedentary person will be closer to 10.
You will probably have to tinker with this number a bit to find out exactly what is right for you. I recommend staying within a caloric range (1400-1500 calories, for example) for 2 weeks to see how your body responds. If you’re not losing weight, you can lower calories slightly.
Before I move on to the second most important factor in weight loss, it’s worth mentioning nothing else matters for weight loss if you’re not in a calorie deficit. This has been proven time and time again in research. I highly recommend subscribing to Alan Aragon’s Research Review (https://alanaragon.com/aarr/) if you’d like an review on some of the research studies out there on weight loss.
1. Strength Training
Strength training will be your 2nd best friend when it comes to weight loss. Here are some of the benefits of strength training:
- Increased Strength
- Added Muscle
- Higher Metabolism
- Burns Calories
- Changes Body Shape
- Better Sleep
- Increased Bone Density
- Boosted Confidence
With all of these benefits, it’s easy to see why lifting weights is so important. If you ask someone why they want to lose weight – she’ll often tell you it’s because she wants to fit back in to her favorite clothes and feel more confident again. Strength training helps immensely towards those ends. But it’s impossible to lose weight without it, so don’t forget it if that’s your goal.
Please forward this to someone who is working out regularly, eating healthy, but not creating a calorie deficit.