Are you tired of struggling with your weight? If you’re like us, you’ve tried everything from Atkins to Paleo and the only thing that’s slimmed down is your patience. (It’s so damn thin. Gah!)
We’ll let you in on a little secret: The only thing standing between you and your weight loss goal is creating a plan and sticking to it. Not just any old plan, though. A plan that works for YOU.
Here’s the dealio: Every body is different—age, gender, history and fitness level—and that’s why you’re not seeing results with the cookie-cutter diet or workout routine you found online or heard about from your bestie. They’re not designed for YOU.
Create a weight loss plan that works for you by following these steps.
Set a Realistic, Healthy Goal
There’s a difference between how much weight you want to lose (a kajillion pounds!!!) and how much you need to lose (20 pounds). See a health professional to determine if it’s okay for you to start a weight loss program and set a realistic goal weight.
Healthy weight loss is 1-3 pounds per week, so if you’ve got 50 pounds to lose recognize it’s not going to happen in a month, or even three. Wrap your mental fingers around the reality that losing weight is going to take more time than you would like it to, but the end result will be even sweeter than you can currently imagine.
Determine Daily Caloric Intake
Your body needs a certain amount of calories per day to maintain your weight. If you eat more calories than it requires, you create a calorie surplus and gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than your body requires, you create a calorie deficit and lose weight.
You probably already knew that though, so let’s get a little more technical here: The type of exercises in your program and the type of food you eat matter because you can use your exercise and nutrition plans to maximize natural metabolism. A calorie is not just a calorie: Artificial sweeteners may have zero calories but they will also tank your metabolism, and cardio burns more calories than resistance training but does not speed up your metabolism in the same way. So remember, it’s not just calories in versus calories out—there are different metabolic functions going on depending on your caloric intake and exercise routine, all of which can either aid in body fat loss or lead to a plateau.
Determining the precise amount of calories your body needs to maintain your current weight is complicated, but a simple and quick way to get a general idea of how many calories it takes to maintain your current weight is to multiply your current weight by the daily amount of energy you use:
- 150 pounds, inactive: 150 x 14 = 2,100 calories
- 150 pounds, somewhat active: 150 x 18 = 2,700 calories
- 150 pounds, extremely active: 150 x 20 = 3,000 calories
In order to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than your maintenance level to create a caloric deficit. Depending on your preference, you can create a small (15%), medium (20%) or large (25%) caloric deficit.
Let’s do some math, shall we? If your estimated calorie maintenance level is 2,100 calories per day and you want to create a 20% caloric deficit, you’d figure out that 20% of 2,100 is 420 (2,100 x .20 = 420). Then you’d just subtract that 420 from 2,100 and get 1,680. You’d need to consume 1,680 calories per day to lose fat.
So, what’s the diff between a small, medium and large deficit?
- Rate of fat loss: The higher the deficit, the higher the rate of fat loss. By setting an aggressive deficit, you won’t have to diet as long and you’ll reach your goal weight sooner.
- Your motivation: An aggressive deficit is hard to pull off because it requires greater food restriction and more exercise, but you’ll see results more quickly. If you’re motivated by losing weight quickly then an aggressive caloric deficit may be a good fit for you, but a smaller caloric deficit will be easier to maintain.
- Impact on exercise: The more aggressively you cut calories, the more difficult it will be to train, recover and improve your performance. (This is why it’s incredibly important to fuel your body with enough protein to prevent muscle loss.)
- Metabolic adaptation: It’s normal for metabolism to slow when calories are restricted. It’s important to be prepared to deal with metabolic adaptation—especially if you choose an aggressive caloric deficit. This is why fueling your body with a good diet (protein, fats and carbs) and staying hydrated is of critical importance.
Considering these differences is incredibly important. The best choice is what will be sustainable for you.
In our next post, we’ll discuss the final two elements of creating a weight loss plan that works for you: designing a sustainable fitness program and creating good habits.
Have questions about creating your weight loss plan? Sound off below.