Would you rather be fat and wealthy with no guarantee of ever becoming fit? Or would you rather have excellent health for the rest of your life with no guarantee of having good fortune? Any smart person would pick the second right away. If you’re guaranteed good health, you’re already a very wealthy person.
If there’s one thing that you must do to improve your health, it would be to stop smoking. Losing weight is a close second If you already don’t smoke. Obesity kills and comes a close second to cigarette smoking as the cause of preventable deaths in the world. The risk of death from Covid-19 is about ten times higher in countries where most of the population is overweight.
Here in the U.S., over 70% of adults are either overweight or obese, which costs them a total of $210 billion in medical expenses alone. Imagine how much more their excess grocery expenses or sky-high health insurance premiums would add to that number. No question that losing that extra weight could save you a ton of money.
Even if you’re not really fat, maintaining an ideal body weight has a lot of other benefits, among others:
- Increase your self-confidence
- Be more attractive to your partner
- Increase your stamina
- Have better sex
This post focuses more on how to have better sex. Just kidding!! As promised, we’ll focus on how to lose weight. We will tackle building muscle in a future post.
What you’ll realize after reading this post is that losing weight and building wealth have lots of things in common. For starters, they are both math problems that can be solved by careful planning, proper execution, and the right mindset.
Know how much you need to lose
If you’re broke, you need to cut down on spending. Budgeting involves knowing where you stand. The best way to start is to calculate your net worth. A negative number, for example, is a wake-up call to take serious action.
When it comes to losing weight, the Body Mass Index or BMI provides an easy way to know where you stand in terms of overall body composition and fat levels. It does this by comparing your height relative to your weight. If your BMI classification is beyond normal, for example, it is considered associated with a progressively increasing risk of cardiovascular disease.
For the majority of people, BMI does correctly indicate whether someone is overweight or obese. If you’re like most people, you can simply use the chart below to figure out your classification.
If you are a bodybuilder, an athlete, or work-out regularly with weights, however, you may weigh more than the average person and be considered overweight according to the chart. You are better off using a tape measure or a mirror as a guide.
Otherwise, you want to fall as close to the normal range as possible. Say you’re 5’11” tall and weigh 190 pounds, you are considered overweight according to the chart. Losing 20 to 30 lbs. in six months is a reasonable goal, but you should run your own numbers.
Know how much calories your body needs
Going back to our money analogy, a budget helps you make sure you will have enough money every month. Without a budget, you might run out of money before your next paycheck. It helps you control spending. The key is not to spend more than you make. Losing weight is no different. Except you’re tracking your calorie intake vs expenditure. You don’t want to take more calories than what you can burn.
Everybody needs a minimum number of calories to live. This number is called the Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR. Your BMR is the number of calories your organs need to function while you perform no activity whatsoever. Think of it as the amount of energy you’d burn if you stayed in bed all day.
Step 1: Calculate your BMR
There are many ways to calculate BMR. But the Mifflin-St Jeor was found to be the most accurate by the American Dietetic Association.
|10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) – 161
|10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5
Step 2: Calculate your TDEE
Once you know your BMR, you can use it to calculate the calories you actually burn in a day, i.e. your Total Daily Energy Expenditure or TDEE.
Use the multiplier that corresponds to your activity level to obtain your TDEE. Keep in mind that this is just an estimate.
|Little or no exercise
|BMR x 1.2
|Light exercise or sports 1-3 days per week
|BMR x 1.375
|Moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days per week
|BMR x 1.55
|Hard exercise or sports 6-7 days per week
|BMR x 1.725
|Intense exercise and active job
|BMR x 1.9
Using the above formula, a 30 yo 5’11” (180.3 cm) tall guy that weighs 190 lbs (86.18 kgs) would have a BMR of 1,844 calories per day. His TDEE is 2,212 calories (x 1.2) if he lives a sedentary lifestyle.
Eat a balanced diet, track your calorie intake
A balanced diet is important because your organs and tissues need proper nutrition to work effectively. Without good nutrition, your body is more prone to disease, infection, fatigue, and poor performance. There is no point in trying to lose weight at the expense of poor nutrition. You’ll either gain it all back or simply fail miserably because a number of vitamins and minerals are needed to help you metabolize fat.
When you digest your food, your body breaks down your food into calorie units. The amount depends on where they come from:
- Carbs, 4 calories per gram
- Protein, 4 calories per gram
- Fat, 9 calories per gram
- Alcohol, 7 calories per gram
Ever wonder why fat gets a bad rap? It’s because fat has the most calories per gram. This is why I avoid eating fried foods as much as possible. If I do, I always wipe-press or squeeze them with a paper towel every time it is offered to me.
Alcohol is even worse because of the double whammy effect– when you drink alcohol, your liver burns alcohol instead of fat. A typical beer has 150 calories and is often offered with other fattening foods like fried chicken wings, pizza or burgers.
Eat foods high in the “Fullness Factor” list
The key to controlling your calorie intake is to control hunger. You will obviously eat more than usual if you’re very hungry. Dieters often find themselves in a vicious cycle of cutting calories and experiencing extreme hunger, only to end up binging and splurging on foods that are off the diet.
Fullness Factor values fall within the range of 0 to 5. The higher the value, the more likely the food will satisfy your hunger with fewer calories. Foods that contain large amounts of water (hint: drink a lot of water to suppress that hunger), dietary fiber, and/or protein have the highest Fullness Factors. In contrast, foods that contain large amounts of fat, sugar, and/or starch have low Fullness Factors and are much easier to overeat. You can visit NutritionalData.self.com website to research the FF of certain foods.
Eating oatmeal and boiled eggs, for example, is far more satisfying and nutrient dense than that bowl of flavored cheerios you consume every morning. Not to mention that they cost much less too.
Eat four to six times a day instead of three
One technique that I follow is to take frequent and smaller meals all throughout the day. It may not speed up your metabolism like many experts claim, but I found this very effective nevertheless. The longer you wait between meals, the hungrier you will get, and the more likely you will overeat.
But what really matters is the total calories that you consume, i.e. your Total Daily Calories Consumed or TDCC. If you’re on a four meal 1,800 calories plan, like the one below, you should limit your calories to 450 per meal.
Use a tool to calculate your TDCC
Eatthismuch.com offers a fantastic tool that can help you plan your meals.
Putting it all together
Now that you’ve (hopefully) absorbed all the basics above, the burning question is how do I actually lose weight? It should be unequivocally clear by now that despite the claims of many “experts” who are willing to say anything to make money, tracking your calories is the most important thing that you can do to lose weight.
If you want to save money, you need to spend less than you make. If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than what you intake. You cannot manage something that you don’t measure.
There are only three possibilities.
|TDCC = TDEE
|You consume as many calories as you burn.
|TDCC > TDEE
|You consume more calories than you burn.
|You gain weight
|TDCC < TDEE
|You consume fewer calories than you burn.
|You lose weight
Obviously, your goal is the last one. To make a caloric deficit, you need to reduce your TDCC by eating fewer calories and/or by increasing your TDEE through exercise or physical activity.
In that way, your body is forced to find some alternative fuel source to burn for energy instead. New energy cannot just be created out of thin air. It has to come from somewhere. And the most abundant source of energy is your body’s fat reserves.
Here are some recommended activities to increase your caloric expenditure (30 minutes of activity for 185 lbs. person):
- Running 7.5 mph, 555 calories
- Bicycling 16-19 mph, 533 calories
- Push mowing the lawn, 200 calories
- General gardening, 200 calories
How much deficit do I need to make?
The answer depends on how fast you want to see the results. Most experts agree that losing 0.5 to 2 pounds per week depending on BMI levels is ideal. If this is the case, aim for 10% to 20% below the maintenance level or TDEE. Conventional wisdom states that you need to make a 500 calorie deficit in order to lose 1 pound per week.
Working on our previous example…
The 5’11” guy who weighs 190 lbs. can expect to lose 20 pounds in 5 months by creating a calorie deficit of 500 per day.
In the end, what’s important is that a deficit exists. Your #1 focus is to ensure that you are consistently below your TDEE.
Only then will you see results.