Weight loss – what’s safe?

clementine_pumpitup_scaleSo how do you lose weight? More importantly, how do you lose it safely? Regardless of your goal, the only way to lose weight is for there to be a CALORIE DEFICIT. This means that you need to burn off more calories than what you are consuming. So ultimately you need to eat LESS or exercise MORE, or ideally do both! This sounds simple and upon hearing this many people will slash their calorie consumption dangerously low. Many nutrition experts will recommend no less than 1200 calories. However I feel this is still very low for someone engaging in regular physical activity. Cutting calories too low will leave you feeling starving, unhappy and you’ll burn out fast! It will be impossible to sustain this extreme way of eating and eventually you’ll find yourself back to square one and overweight again. So come up with a game plan! A safe and effective weight loss ‘journey’ that will not only get you to your goal weight but will also help you adopt better eating habits and develop a healthier lifestyle.
The USDA/Nutrition.gov recommends 1-2lbs of fat loss per week is a safe amount to aim for. We are always looking for a quick fix in today’s hectic society but the reality is there’s no quick fix to weight loss that is sustainable.
But how do we lose the weight? Well there are various ways to get there – Count calories, weigh and measure food and of course EXERCISE more. 
If you have a weight loss goal in excess of 10lbs, I’d recommend counting calories. At least to begin with. Closely monitor and track exactly what you are consuming. Meanwhile you will be training your brain to recognise healthy choices, bad ones and portion control. Win Win. Counting calories is not something you want to be doing for the rest of your life, so invest time getting your diet right and the calorie tracking WILL be temporary.
How many calories do you need in a day? 
You can calculate an ESTIMATE of the total number of calories you need on a daily basis with a couple of simple equations. All you need is your weight, height and age.
Calculate your numbers and see how you compare. Remember this is not going to be exact but it is a good guide to see if you’re consuming beyond your needs.
THE ENERGY FROM THE CALORIES YOU CONSUME ARE NEEDED FOR 3 FUNCTIONS:
* YOUR BODILY FUNCTIONS – basically how you live and breathe
* PROCESSING YOUR FOOD – digestion, storage and use of
* PHYSICAL ACTIVITY – using the energy from food as fuel
So remember, all of the above needs to happen – your body won’t tick tock along nicely if you’re consuming only 1000 calories a day. Life is going to become a serious struggle.
From the research i’ve done, the general consensus for a calorie deficit is 15-20%. This figure is deducted from your total number of daily calories to get your target daily caloric intake. For example, you total caloric intake is 2500 >> 20% x 2500 = 500 >> 2500-500= 2000 calories per day.
I found a great Weight Loss Calculator that will help you determine the length of time it will take to reach your goal in a safe manner i.e. a gradual loss of fat, 1lb per week. The higher the deficit, the more lbs you lose.
Thanks to technology, tracking your calories is pretty easy these days with a ton of apps available for download to your phone. Food items barcodes can be scanned and nutritional data can be entered manually and saved. Fitness Pal is one that I’ve used in the past that’s fab. There is a strong online community with Fitness Pal, including forums regarding nutrition and general advice to help you along your journey. When you start recording and tracking what you are consuming on a daily basis it can be a real eye opener and you can quickly see why you may not be shifting those extra lbs. You are holding yourself accountable for every last thing that passes those lips and those little snacks and treats soon become less attractive.
If counting calories is too much for you then check out Choosemyplate for dietary guidance on portion control and start weighing your food. Following the zone diet, I measured my food for 3 weeks and can now eye ball the correct amount for me. It’s a valuable learning experience that I’ll write more on soon.
So rather than diving straight into a crazy diet and putting yourself through the trauma of starvation, make your weight-loss journey about learning and developing a healthier lifestyle, a healthier YOU. You can’t out work a bad diet through exercise alone. It’s impossible. If you are investing so much time in exercise then do yourself a favour and invest some time in looking at your diet and get yourself on the right track. Weight loss is hard, I’ve been there – stay focused and get excited about the healthy life that you are building yourself.
I’d be interested to hear from anyone that’s on a weight loss journey and how it’s going!

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