We’ve seen it before – people want to lose some bodyfat so eat less and train more. Both these methods require a significant amount of extra effort than the one we’re going to talk about today…
We know that creating a negative energy balance (creating a calorie deficit) is key to losing weight, but there must be an easier way to do it than cutting out large amounts of food or spending hours every day training.
Everyone has a maintenance level of calories that they need to stay the same weight and there are multiple factors such as age, sex, activity levels, hormone profiles and amount of muscle mass that influence this.
We like to view this number from a weekly (or even monthly) perspective rather than a day to day one as people can miss the wood for the trees.
This then allows us to help people see what their average intake looks like whilst taking into account loads of lifestyle factors.
How many times have you heard people talking about how they starve themselves during the week to try and lose weight but go wild on the weekends?
Those people tend to stay the same size and shape despite spending 5 days of each week fairly miserably hungry. But why is that?
The answer lies in simple maths…
We’re not saying that everyone everywhere has to track their food but a little investment of time can go a long way.
Let’s work through two examples and see how this can all go wrong:
Susan is 30 years old, 5’4” tall and 145lbs (65kg)
She works from home and her exercise routine of choice is walking the dog for 45 minutes a day during the week and running 5-10km at the weekend
Her BMR is 1380 calories and her activities raise her maintenance calories to somewhere around 1800-1900 calories (so weekly needs are around 13000 calories)
Susan finds all this information out and commits to eating 1500 calories a day from Monday to Friday but on the weekends likes to really let her hair down, eat a takeaway, drink a few glasses of wine and have a big breakfast.
All of a sudden, Susan is eating 3500 calories on Saturdays and Sundays.
The maths minded folks out there will have seen the problems here for Susan…
Monday to Friday she is hungry and miserable and eating 7500 calories in total, but then the weekends account for another 7000 calories but her weekly target was 13000!
Inevitably what happens at this point is that Susan gains some weight but can’t figure out why when she’s hungry for the majority of the week so she reduces her calorie intake during the week and the vicious cycle begins…
Compare that to Susan’s twin, Karen.
Karen is the same height and weight, and even has the same exercise habits.
Karen reads the same information about what her maintenance calories are and decides to equally split the 13000 across all 7 days of the week.
This means that Karen is not hungry all week and looking forward to the weekend.
It also means that Karen can eat some chocolate and have a glass of wine with her evening meal a couple of times a week without blowing past 13000 calories!
Who do you think is living the happier life? Susan or Karen?
Susan is trapped in a downward spiral but Karen has flexibility and knows that she can eat the things that she fancies as long as the whole week takes them into account. She can even have the Saturday night takeaway without gaining weight by balancing the books somewhere else! Susan is probably thinking she needs to run more (but will probably just end up making herself hungrier on the days when all bets are off anyway!)
So, the take home message is this – it might not be about eating less or training more, it might just be about making better choices on a daily basis.