It’s January, and as expected after the Christmas binge, the main focus for everyone is losing weight, getting fit, starting new diets etc. With this in mind, I want to address some recurring social media posts and online advertisements that I see frequently around this time of year, by trainers and companies in the fitness industry.
These include ‘detox’ juices, quick fix diets, crash plans and fast weight loss programmes all of which use the principles of extreme low calorie intake, high energy expenditure and unsustainable results.
First, let’s look the key component that determines our calorie input and output – BMR. What is BMR? Basal Metabolic Rate is an estimate of how many calories you’d burn if you were to do nothing but rest for 24 hours.
It represents the minimum amount of energy needed to keep your body functioning – this includes breathing and keeping your heart beating . So this is the amount of calories we need to maintain body functions at rest. Down below is an example of a typical BMR for a woman aged 30 years.
- Name: Sarah
- Age: 30
- Height: 5’5
- Weight: 155lbs
BMR is calculated using the ‘Mifflin St. Jeor Equation’. When Sarah’s numbers are applied to this equation, her BMR shows that she needs 1,500 calories to keep her body functioning (at rest). This is without any physical exercise or daily tasks.
Why is this important?
Increasingly we are being fed incorrect information by both inexperienced fitness professionals and fitness companies who are out to make a quick buck. They tell us that in order to lose weight, we must to be on low calorie diets with huge calorie deficits, and that we need to train our butts off until we are purple in the face.
Not only is this type of approach putting unneeded stress on your body and putting your hormones out of whack, research shows that it also decreases your metabolic rate (BMR).
This method of dieting is unsustainable and will cause a rebound effect of fast weight gain. Most worryingly of all, this dieting technique is destroying people’s way of thinking about fat loss.
Where is good place to start with your weight loss?
A good start is getting your BMR and activity levels evaluated by a fitness professional or by calculating your BMR online. This will determine how many calories your body needs to function and while also maintaining current body weight. After this, it’s advisable to use the IIFYM macro calculator which will calculate your macros and your fitness/activity expenditure.
Once this is done, you can then decrease your calories by the recommended 10-20% calorie deficit. A deficit of this amount, with an increase of physical activity, is healthy and stable.
Be sure to increase protein intake as it will aid with recovery and growth, and will keep you fuller for longer. Good fats intake should also be increased as this will help you burn fat more efficiently by increasing your leptin levels* and sensitivity. This is key in allowing your body to start burning those resistant fat cells.
*Leptin is a mediator of long-term regulation of energy balance, suppressing food intake and thereby inducing weight loss. The purpose of this review is to provide background information on the leptin and ghrelin hormones, their role in food intake and body weight in humans, and their mechanism of action.
Studies show us that low calorie diets and excessive exercise don’t work together. It’s proven. So, next time you’re thinking about starting a diet plan or jetting off to a one-week weight loss retreat in Ibiza, make sure it’s scientifically backed up. You should not be starving yourself and running your body into the ground with excessive exercise, because more than likely, any weight loss will be compromised muscle loss or water – not fat.
Want to find out more? Check out this link for an informative article on big calorie deficits and the effect this type of dieting has on the body.
Contact me for further advice and help on beginning your weight loss journey the healthy way.