3: Intro to Weight Loss

Section 3: Introduction to Weight Loss FAQs

How do you lose weight?
You lose weight by creating a caloric deficit, meaning you take in less calories than you burn. For every pound of fat you want to lose, you have to burn 3500 more calories than you take in. If you accumulate persistent caloric deficits day after day, you will lose fat, even if you just eat chocolate. This is not a theory. It’s a law of physics. A proper diet helps you lose weight more than exercise. You can lose weight by eating properly and not exercising, but you can’t lose weight by exercising and eating improperly.

Tools required:
I recommend an electronic kitchen scale, which you will need for portioning. You will also want a measuring tape, which measures your progress more accurately than a bathroom scale. I also recommend using the free online calorie counter and diet journal website FitDay to keep track of what you eat, your body stats and goals, and assist in meal planning.

What is wrong with a bathroom scale?”
There is nothing wrong with a scale, but be aware our body weight is constantly in flux based on a myriad of circumstances like diet, temperature, exercise, and time of day. A scale only shows you a number, a number we tend to take all too seriously. Of course the scale also has the power to really inspire us, just be aware it does not measure fat loss versus muscle gain and it can’t tell you if the extra pound you gained is just water. Every time you step on the scale you risk frustration by a short-range failure.

What are Some Other Ways To Measure Progress?
Using a measuring tape to track your progress by measuring your waist, hips and belly is more definitive than a scale. You can also estimate your body fat percentage with a measuring tape (those scales that have body fat percentage options are unreliable) and an online body fat percentage calculator . This also is not as reliable, however. If you really want true body fat stats, you should be able to have it measured at your local gym by a fitness professional.

It’s also a good idea to take progress photos of yourself every two weeks. Side-by-side photos can show positive change when the scale can’t. Also, ask yourself some real questions. 1) Do I feel better physically? 2) If I don’t worry about the scale, are there any other positive changes in my life? 3) How do I feel emotionally? 4) Have my sleep patterns or other patterns changed for the better? Weight loss is a lifestyle change, it’s not only about shedding fat. Take the time to take to heart the wonderful peripheral effects that also arise from your effort, even if the scale does not move.

How do I to create the correct caloric deficit for myself?

  1. Find your BMR or Base Metabolic Rate using an online BMR calculator or one found on an online diet and calorie counting site like FitDay. (Your BMR is the amount of calories your body burns when you just lay in bed all day hungover.)
  2. Based on your BMR, determine your daily caloric needs using a scientific equation you might have heard of–the Harris Benedict Equation. (Chose the level you are now, not what you will be when on the diet).
    A. If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
    B. If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
    C. If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
    D. If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) 5. If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
  3. Create a caloric deficit 10% to 15% less than your daily caloric needs. If your daily caloric requirement is 3000 calories a day, you subtract 10% and end up with 2700. This is the amount of calories you will be able to eat per day.

In the above example, a deficit of 300 calories per six-day week will lead to a total deficit of 1800 calories, about a .5 pound loss per week. (every 7th day is a free day, explained in Section 4). But if this sounds low, don’t worry, you will also be exercising and changing your diet, so you will lose much more. Do not try and lose weight by heavily restricting calories. We lose weight by gently restricting calories (10-15%) and through nutrition and exercise.

Optional: You can skip the steps above and just use an online diet journal like FitDay.  These online journals have all the tools you need to establish your daily caloric needs and to create your deficit. You input your weight, height, activity level, goal weight, and duration, and it spits out a number.  But it’s good to know the above sciency stuff in case someone asks how you lost all that weight and look so good!

And then what?
Then you use an online diet journal like FitDay to calculate what you can eat. At 1800 calories a day, you might find you can eat six small meals comprised of lean meat and non-starchy vegetables, and a small handful of nuts as a snack. Using your electronic scale, you measure out your portions and away you go!

How do I Set Goals?
“You must have long-range goals to keep you from being frustrated by short-range failures.” –Charles C. Noble quote

Assuming you know how much weight you would like to lose, you can set your goals. But it does not have to be weight loss alone. It can be to reach a certain waistline size, or get into a certain pair of jeans. Either way, if you don’t set a concrete goal it’s too easy to hop on and off the diet and end up wandering aimlessly. “Dieting” is not a goal. A goal has a start and an end time and a conclusion. You need to be able to write out your goal, as in “I will lose 10 pounds by July 4th” or “I will go down 2 sizes by July 4th.”

Be realistic with your goals. One to three pounds of fat loss a week is considered normal. It does not sound like much, but three pounds a week is an ass load of weight to lose. Everyone is different, but if you eat within your boundaries and skip the exercise, you might lose one pound a week. If you eat within your boundaries and exercise like the kids on The Biggest Loser, you might lose three pounds a week, up to you.

If you’re not sure of how much fat loss you should target, you can use a online Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator to estimate how much you might afford to lose.

Back up here. What do you mean, six meals?
Studies have shown that if you eat six or even seven smaller meals throughout the day you won’t suffer from hunger and your body will burn fat more steadily. The traditional three meal method means that you might go six hours without food, and such a long time without fuel can put your body into starvation mode and cause it to hold onto fat. And dieting is more pleasant and easier to stick with when you’re not hungry.

That means I will eat a meal at 9pm. I will put on weight if I eat that late.
This is untrue. You will actually burn more calories while sleeping if your body is digesting food. And if you don’t eat from 6pm to 7am, that’s a thirteen hour fast where your body will start to pull back on utilizing its fat stores by entering starvation mode.

But I still feel hungry all the time!
If you go on a low-carb diet you will feel a nagging hunger, withdrawal symptoms from the sugars your body had been relying on for fuel, but it will go away by day two.

How much weight will I lose with this 10% deficit?
The 10% deficit in the above example (3000 minus 10% =300/day) would lead to a six-day week total of 1800 calories (every 7th day is a free day, explained in Section 4), about a half pound of weight. Not too grand. But remember that we established our daily caloric need by using the Harris Benedict equation using our pre-diet activity rate.  With the added exercise (minimum 3 times per week) we will burn additional calories. And most important, following the modified Caveman Diet with the carb restriction will have you shedding pounds.

  • If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
  • If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
  • If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
  • If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
  • If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9

So again using the 3000 calorie a day daily caloric needs example: Lets assume the person started as sedentary. So they had a BMR of 2500 x 1.2 to get their 3000 daily calories. They trimmed off 10% to get their deficit rate and are now consuming 2700 calories a day.

Now the diet has started, and her or she up the game to “moderately active,” The same BMR of 2500 calories is now multiplied by 1.55, which equals 3875 calories burned per day. Now we get some real numbers. 3875-2700 = 1175 calories burned per day x 6 days = 7050 calories per six-day week. 3500 calories per pound means that this is a loss of 2 pounds a week, a very healthy and realizable weight loss goal, actually the maximum amount of weight that doctors and health professionals recommend people try and lose.

Summary Equation
-Example BMR = 2500.
-Sedentary Lifestyle. The Harris Benedict Equation says 1.2 x BMR = 3000 calories needed per day.
-Create Deficit: 10% (to 15%) of 3000 calories a day = 2700 calories allowed per day.
-Diet begins: Sedentary Lifestyle change to Moderately Active. Harris says 1.55 x BMR = -3875 calories burned per day.
-3875-2700 = 1175 calories deficit a day
-1175 x 6 days = 7050 calories deficit per week
-3500 (the calories in a pound) = 2 pounds weight loss per week.

Most online diet journals like FitDay have programs that do all of this automatically!

But I want to lose more, how can I lose more?
You should not try to lose more than 3 pounds in a week. Most nutritionists and health professionals assert it is unhealthy and even dangerous to try and lose over 2 pounds per week. But that does not mean you can’t or won’t lose more than 3 pounds per week. On the Caveman Diet outlined here you probably will lose more than 3 pounds, but just don’t try to lose more.

To lose a bit more weight safely than in the above example, you could increase activity. You could create a deficit with 15% instead of 10%. But never reduce calories lower than 15% of your daily need. Creating deficits larger won’t work–your body will go into starvation mode, lowering your metabolism, stopping your body from burning fat, and will even cannibalize your muscles, turning muscle tissue into fuel in a process knows a glyconeogenesis. Also, you will be hungry, and with hunger comes vulnerability and the next thing you know you’re off the diet.

But that guy on Biggest Loser lost 15 pounds in a week.
Unless you are obese, you will never see such dramatic weight loss. A 350 pound 30-year-old male that is being put through military-style workouts will burn 6000 calories a day. His BMR minus 10% would be 2700 calories, a deficit of 3300 calories a day, nearly a pound a day. The Biggest Loser show is highly secretive, but rumors abound that before the weigh-ins most contestants use the same tricks professional body builders use to get cut, by severely restricting the intake of water. I have actually used this technique and lost five pounds overnight. I gained it back by lunch. It would be interesting to see the contestants re-weighed in the morning!

In Conclusion, This is Not Hard Science
Ok, if you cut your calories and carbs and exercise you will lose weight. How much exactly, every day, every two weeks, every month, falls beyond the ability of online BMR and BMI tools, the measuring tape, the kitchen scale, body fat % calipers, and the FitDay nutritional calculations.  They are guidelines, mile posts to mark your progress in general. Don’t take them too seriously, and certainly don’t let them erode your determination to lose weight and get in shape. Strive to be optimistic. If you gain two pounds overnight, chances are–unless you ate 12,000 calories of the purest bacon fat the day before–that it’s water retention or some other innocuous cause (if you eat 3500 calories of fat you will not store one pound of fat). But for some reason we are hard-wired to think the worst. Maybe because that will bring us closer to the decision to sabotage our weight loss plan (our secret plan all along) and get back to eating the doughnuts, I don’t know. So just relax. It took you years to get out of shape and put on the weight, there’s no hurry to get it off.

Section 1: Introduction to the Caveman Diet
Section 2: Introduction to Dieting in General
Section 3: Introduction to Weight Loss
Section 4: The Caveman Diet to Lose Weight
Section 5: Menu planning
Section 6: Exercise