Sunday, June 9, 2013

Exercise Essentials - Part 2: Weight Loss Through Diet

For the second installment of Exercise Essentials, we'll look at how body weight is changed (up or down) and I'll give you two nutritional guidelines to help you reach your goals.


It requires hard work.

Lose 10lbs With This One Weird Trick!

You've probably seen the online ads or the late night infomercials that promise quick weight loss results. Maybe your friend told you about this diet he went on last month that made him lose 10lbs overnight. If you've ever tried these get-fit-quick methods, you'll eventually come to the conclusion they don't quite offer the promised reward. If weight loss were easy, you wouldn't be reading this.

So let's cut right to the point and say it: Getting fat is easy. Losing fat is hard.

Changing your body weight requires hard work and discipline. There's no magic bullet or shortcut.

HOWEVER, we can simplify and streamline the process to make it as easy as possible. Not easy, just easier than clicking random online ads. 

The Simple Formula

Believe it or not (and I don't care which one), there is a very simple formula for changing your body weight.

Change in Weight = Calories Consumed - Calories Expended

If you remember how Calories work from the previous installment, you'll understand the background behind this formula. It really is that simple. Let me explain it: If you consume excess energy, your body will store it. If you under consume energy, your body will use that storage.

You'll notice that I use the term "Change in Weight" because this formula can go either direction. If you want to gain weight, the same principle is used. Eating excess calories will promote building tissue.

While this formula is pretty straightforward, the two major components ("Calories Consumed", and "Calories Expended") can become increasingly complicated. I'll take some time to break down the first one, and we'll look at expending calories in the next article. 

Calories Consumed

We get calories from three major sources: Carbohydrates (4 per gram), proteins (4 per gram), and fats (9 per gram). In addition, other sources such as alcohol can provide up to 7 calories per gram. However, there is currently some debate on whether calories from alcohol can lead to weight gain. (Don't take this to mean alcoholic drinks are a freebie. Most beers, mixed drinks, and cocktails contain sugars and carbohydrates which will most certainly lead to weight gain if overly consumed.)

When you eat, you consume the total amount of calories from a gram-to-gram breakdown of the food. For instance, if you eat a piece of whole wheat toast with two tablespoons of peanut butter, you're consuming 285 Calories. 

Toast = 81 Calories
15g Carbohydrates (60 Cals)
3g Protein (12 Cals)
1g Fat (9 Cals)

Peanut Butter = 204 Calories
8g Carbohydrates (32 Cals)
7g Protein (28 Cals)
16g Fat (144 Cals)

That single piece of toast with peanut butter contains nearly 300 calories. So you can see how the energy consumption can start to build up over the course of a single day. Here's an example breakfast, both containing 300 calories.

Taken from - an Example 300 Calorie Breakfast

Where the Calories Add Up

Now the questions start to arise: How many calories should I eat? Where should they come from? Are carbs really bad for you? Shouldn't I just cut out the fat?

The simple answer is that there is no simple answer. Each question could have (and does have) an entire book written about it. But I'll offer one suggestion: Rather than worry about the source of the calories, let's focus on the actual amount. Most fad diets or eating plans all have one thing in common - they usually require you to consume less calories than you are currently eating. This is what triggers the weight loss.

To succeed in your goal, do two things:
  1. Calculate how many calories you should consume each day to maintain your current body weight.  
  2. Eat 300-500 Calories less than that number.
It really is that simple. Unfortunately, number two requires constant moderation and awareness. This is the hardest part for people who struggle with weight loss. Usually we are so comfortable with our current habits (consuming way more calories than we need) that any attempt to change them is met with failure and frustration. If you are having difficulty making your weight loss goals, I would guarantee it's because you're not consuming less calories. You need to take a very hard look at your current nutritional habits and adjust accordingly.

There is no easy way around this. If you're having difficulty losing weight, I recommend recording and analyzing your nutrition. To do this, I use the program myfitnesspal. It's available free online and as a smartphone app. 

Calculate your daily caloric requirements. Go to my website, use the nutrition resources on the left side of the page to find out exactly how many calories you should eat each day. Then go to, create a free account, monitor your food, and record it using the program. It will give you a gram-by-gram breakdown of what you're eating and how many calories you're consuming each day. If you're being honest with your food log, you should start to see the results you want within the first few days. 

Moderation is for the Weak

Don't take this lightly. You're spending too much time and energy stressing over your lack of progress. Focus on the issue, tackle it with everything you have. Treat the problem as if it were a disease that was directly affecting you. 

Hit me with your questions or comments - email me at

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