1. Energy Balance and What It Means for Weight Loss
A CALORIC DEFICIT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT COMPONENT OF WEIGHT LOSS
2. Find Out What a Healthy Weight is For You
Our bodies need energy in order to perform our daily activities (cellular processes like breathing, breaking down food, using energy to move around, etc). Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the number of calories our bodies need to perform these daily bodily functions. Our calorie need is based on the RMR and other variables such as gender, age, body size, hormone level, activity level, and partly genetics. Some of these factors are out of our control, however, we can always control our activity level!
But first, how do we know what our RMR is? Traditionally, direct measurement of the RMR is expensive and impractical, so many people use an equation to estimate the RMR. It is important to keep in mind these equations are not exact, but they do provide a general estimate that is more individualized to each person and their unique characteristics.
The Harris-Benedict equation takes gender, age, height, weight, and activity level into account!
3. Make Healthy Swaps
Replacing soft drinks with water can save you hundreds of calories. One 12oz serving of Coca-Cola has 140 calories, and 36g of sugar. Eliminating one coke every day for one week would reduce calories by almost 1,000 calories! It’s important to remember that the little decisions we make every day contribute to our overall weight and body composition and that small swaps can make a big difference if you stay consistent!
Replace processed foods with fruits or vegetables to fill you up for fewer calories: For example 1 serving of zucchini noodles: 15 calories vs 1 serving cooked spaghetti noodles: 220 calories
Not only does the zucchini save you calories, but it also provides vitamin C and anti-oxidants! Eating your vegetables doesn’t have to be boring either. Freshen up the taste with citrus, herbs, and spices.
(P.S. there’s a recipe for zucchini noodles on the blog!)
4. Pick Up the Weights
Strength training will increase muscle mass – TONED MUSCLES comes from lifting weights! Applying a stimulus to the muscle (training) signals the body to produce more muscle tissue (aka gains). This results in the growth of muscle! Lifting weights does not make you bulky (it’s ok to lift, ladies!), it requires a high volume of frequency, intensity, and an increase in calories to gain a significant amount of muscle tissue.
You don’t necessarily have to go heavy if your goal is to tone a muscle or increase muscle size (this is called hypertrophy in science language!) Hypertrophy: 1-3 sets, 8-12 reps, 67-85% (moderate-somewhat heavy) 1RM (maximal amount of weight you can lift one time). If your goal is to gain strength, then you should be training with heavier weights. (Reference: Haff, G., & Triplett, N. Essentials of strength training and conditioning).
During strength training, muscle tissue breaks down and rebuilds back up in response to exercise. The body needs an adequate amount of protein to help it rebuild muscle tissue.
General protein guidelines based on activity:
2. Recreational athletes: 1.0g/kg
3. Endurance athletes: 1.2-1.4g/kg
4. Ultra-endurance athletes (marathon/Ironman): 1.2-2.0g/kg
5. Strength athletes: 1.2-1.7g/kg; 1.5-2.0g/kg
(Reference: Dunford, M., & Doyle, J. Nutrition for sport and exercise).The more strength activity a person does, the more protein the body needs for recovery!
Example: a 150 lb female who lifts weights 3-4 times per week
150lb/2.2 = 68kg
68kg x 1.5g = 102g of protein
This can be calculated with the help of a food tracker app! Find an activity that you actually enjoy! If you don’t like going to the gym and lifting weights by yourself, find a gym that offers a group fitness class. A high-intensity class that incorporates resistance exercises and increases the heart rate is a great way to burn calories and build strength at the same time (hint – click here for classes like this!)
5. Be Patient
One pound of fat has an estimated 3,500 calories, so a reduction of 500 calories a day would result in about 1 lb loss per week! Weight loss takes some time, so don’t get discouraged. It’s better to start where you are and make lifestyle changes that support a healthy weight over a long period of time than doing diets that aren’t sustainable.
Weight loss also doesn’t just consist of fat. All of the tissues in your body contribute to your overall weight – this includes bone, muscle mass, water content, organs, and fat tissue. Be mindful of diets that claim to lose weight quickly, because it takes a consistent caloric deficit in order to reduce fat overall. You may be losing weight, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s fat – it could also be water content (I’m looking at you, “detox teas”).
The physical activity guidelines recommend 150 minutes of aerobic activity (low intensity, longer duration) plus strength training 2-3 times per week and flexibility training. Aerobic activity can include brisk walking, biking, swimming, jogging, or another activity that you can perform at a low intensity for an extended period of time!
YOU CANNOT SPOT REDUCE AN AREA
You can do all the crunches you want but the truth is if you’re not losing overall body fat, you’ll never see those abs. It is possible to increase muscle mass in an area (ex: squats will increase the size of the quads/thighs), however, we cannot determine where our body loses fat (must reduce calories to reduce body fat). In other words, a combination of reduced body fat plus increased muscle mass (through diet and exercise) is the best approach for producing definition.
Adding cardio is a great way to increase energy expenditure. This helps to maximize the caloric deficit (burning more calories than you take in, again leading to weight loss over time!).
So, the important thing is to stick to a healthy diet and exercise frequently! I know, I know – not as exciting as buying a magic tea to do all the work for you, but it’s what works. An even better bonus is that it has lasting benefits for health besides just looking great and feeling your best in a swimsuit.
The Things to Take Away:
2. Track how many calories you’re eating and see if this matches your needs. Try using an app like MyFitnessPal
3. Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, legumes in your diet (aka nutrient dense foods which are low in calories!) For more info and ideas of food choices, click here!
4. Pick up the weights to build muscle.
5. Be patient and trust the process
6. Make these habits a lifestyle to lose the weight and keep it off
7. You are a work in progress, it’s ok to love yourself at every stage! 🙂
We’re Here to Help You!
While your fitness goals, injuries, health history, and path in life are unique to you, personal trainers here at the Pittsburgh Fitness Project can guarantee that we hold you accountable when it comes to reaching your goals. As part of this process, we have instituted monthly fitness assessments for all clients so they can track progress, reassess goals and add new ones.
Schedule your free fitness evaluation today by clicking here! Let’s get started.