The general advice given when you want to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more; but how?You also probably know that to lose weight you need to cut calories; but by how many calories? Moreover, from which foods should you be shedding your calories and how about your body’s metabolism, is it programed to keep you overweight? With even science stumped for the right answer, we try to figure out how best to lose weight and more importantly how to keep it down.
How many calories to cut:A study published way back in 1958, found that when a body is in a steady calorie state, extra calories will be stored as fat, and it would take 3,500 extra calories to create about half a kilogram of fat. In that same steady state, it would take a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose half a kilo of fat.The trouble is that the published paper and its 3,500 calorie-rule were wrong, and though science knows better now, very few have bothered to correct this assumption.
What the rule fails to take into consideration is that the body adjusts to weight loss.Let us say a dieter knows they need to eat 2,500 calories a day to maintain their current weight. But they want to slim down. So they decide to shave 500 calories off their daily intake. According to 3,500 calorie rule, after about a week of doing that they should lose half a kilo.
The 3,500 calorie-rule kind of works for the first week or two, but then it stops working. The reason is that in three or four weeks your body needs less food to maintain its new shape and cutting 500 calories off the daily intake has very little additional impact. However, there are new online calculators, such as the Body-Weight-Planner from National Institute of Health in the US, which allow you to input details like your sex, age, weight, height, activity level and the date by which you want to achieve your goal and the site will calculate a more realistic daily calorie goal to get you there.
Which calories to cut:Calories from fat, carbohydrates and protein are not the same. For instance, people who have high blood sugar levels will benefit from diets that are lower in refined carbohydrates and higher in healthy fats and lean proteins. If insulin levels are not a concern, there is little difference in the amount of weight people lose if they cut their calories from fat or from carbs.
However, proteins are a different story. Researchers have shown that higher-protein diets tend to increase the number of calories a person burn, it keeps the person satiated longer and helps preserve muscle. And here is where the difference lies: when people lose weight, they do not just lose fat, they also lose muscle. The more muscle you lose on a diet, the more your metabolism slows and this makes it difficult to keep the weight off down the road. But people can eat only so much protein without changing their kidney function. Dietary guidelines recommend that adults keep their protein in a range of 10 to 35 percent total calories each day.
Exercise and weight loss: While it is important for overall health and mental well-being, exercising alone is probably not going to help you dramatically shrink your size. To produce clinically meaningful weight loss of 5 to 10 percent or more, you really need to focus on the diet.
Moreover, while exercising to lose weight helps burn calories, they do not burn as many calories as not eating those calories in the first place. Also, exercise increases appetite, so if you are working out intensely, it is really easy to eat back all the calories you just burned. Experts recommend that people who are trying to lose weight focus on moderate-intensity physical activities, like brisk walking or gardening. Where exercise becomes critically important is for weight maintenance. Most people who successfully lose weight and keep it off are those who exercise for nearly an hour a day.
But despite cuts in the right amount of calories from the right foods and regular exercise you still find yourself gaining weight, especially if you have struggled with weight problems all your life, the reason could lie in your genes or probably from a medical condition that you need to get checked.