Oh, that 2 pm feeling. You're tired, overworked, and under fed. You could really use a snack to fuel your energy levels, but you're trying to lose weight. The internal monologue begins. 'Mind over matter. If I want to fit into that suit/dress for my sister's wedding, I just need to discipline myself!' 'New year, new... hungry me?' 'Do not, I repeat, DO NOT make eye contact with the vending machine.'
There just has to be a better way! I'm here to share with you that there is. Let's debunk one of the most common diet myths plaguing our way of life today. Eat less, weigh less could not be further from the truth!
We're going to look at it in the form of a simple equation. Meet Jim. Jim wants to lose weight, so he’s eating about 1,800 calories a day. Jim also works out at a moderate rate for an hour each day, and works on his feet for 8 hours a day.
1,800 calories going in - 400 calories (1 hour workout) - 1,600 calories (8 hours of work) = 200 calorie deficit
But wait! We haven't taken the most important calorie burning activities into account. The average person burns roughly 1,600 calories a day just existing. This is known as your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). Your body requires a minimum amount of calories simply to exist, and accomplish basic functions like eating, digestion, breathing, walking, talking, and sleeping. Let's try this equation again, with this new information.
1,800 calories in - 400 calories (workout) - 1,600 (work) - 1,600 calories (RMR) =
-1,800 calorie deficit
The problem is the extreme caloric deficit. Jim isn't eating nearly enough calories to sustain his RMR or his daily activities. Because he is not consuming enough calories to even accomplish basic functions, his metabolism will slow while his body fights to conserve energy. Worst of all, his body will start to use his muscle as an energy source, and store the fat in his diet because it's in starvation mode. As a result, Jim isn't losing weight, and he feels more tired, more sluggish, and yeah, more hungry.
Great, so how many calories SHOULD I eat?
I'm so glad you asked. First, you'll need to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate, which is the right amount of calories for you to consume daily, based on your weight, height, age, gender, and physical activity rate. I present to you, the Harris Benedict BMR equation.
Female: 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years )
Male: 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) - ( 6.8 x age in years )
Once you have calculated your BMR, you can use this handy little chart to determine what value to multiply your finding by, based on your physical activity rate.
Let's try Jim's equation again. Jim is 210 pounds, 6 foot 2 inches, and 36 years old. We've already established that he works out at a moderate rate for 1 hour.
Jim's BMR: 66 + ( 6.23 x 210 ) + ( 12.7 x 74 ) - ( 6.8 x 36 ) = 2,141 x 1.55 = 3,319
Jim's BMR minus his daily activities and RMR: 3,319 - 400 calories (workout) - 1,600 (work) - 1,600 calories (RMR) = -281 calorie deficit
Heck yes. This is more like it! A marginal deficit such as 200-300 calories is much more in line with Jim's weight loss goals. To get the most benefit out of this information, refer to my previous post, 'Food - What is it Good For?', and read up on how to best build your meals. Coupled with your newfound BMR, you're unstoppable! And the best part is you (along with Jim) will be LESS HUNGRY. Sounds like a win to me!