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So, you decided to start a new diet to drop a few pounds for bikini season (or trunks season). You threw out your junk food, started hitting the gym a few days per week and cut your daily calorie intake in hopes to lose weight. You step on the scale once a week and notice that it's not budging! You're confused about why you haven't lost weight, even though you're eating less and working out more.
The way the body functions is mind blowing. It's this complex system that carries us throughout our day-to-day tasks. A common misconception for those who are trying to lose weight is to eat as little as possible to see the biggest result. In reality, this isn't the case whatsoever. The body needs a substantial amount of fuel in order to function properly and efficiently.
Obviously, you burn calories throughout the day whether you're sedentary or active. This is dependent on your metabolism, specifically your Basal Metabolic Rate (which will be referred to as 'BMR'). Your BMR is how many calories your body burns if you were to lay in bed all day and never move. This is the amount of calories it takes for your body to carry out it's typical functions, such as: breathing, digestion, brain function, etc. The typical BMR for a 21 year old, 150 lb, 5'5" woman is 1,500 calories. This means that if a woman of that stature and age woke up and never left her bed for the entire day, she would burn 1,500 calories.
I've seen numerous 'fad diets' with severely low calorie intake and have known plenty of women who have said to me with excitement, "I started this new diet! I can only eat 1,200 for the entire day but I'm excited to lose weight." Here's the thing: if you're consuming fewer calories than your BMR calculation, you WILL NOT lose weight. Your body will assume that you're starving and will conserve every possible energy source to use for essential body functions. If you're an active individual, then this is an even bigger concern because you're expending much more energy than someone who is regularly sedentary. Eating too little can also permanently damage your metabolism which cannot be reversed. Consuming too little for merely a few days can have detrimental effects to your long-term health. Your metabolism will slow down, your risk for weight gain will increase, and it'll be much harder to lose weight in the future. It's incredibly important to be mindful of how much you're eating, whether it be too little or too much.
If you're looking to lose, maintain, or gain weight, it's beneficial to calculate your BMR to understand exactly what your body needs to sustain itself. There are plenty of calculators on the internet that will do this for you. A great one that I've personally used is linked here. You enter your height, weight, sex, and age and the computer does it for you. There's also a link on this website that will calculate your daily calorie needs depending on your BMR and activity level. This way, you won't have to go through confusing formulas and calculations. Once you're aware of your BMR, you can eat accordingly and will see much better results within the coming weeks.
Not only are the amount of calories important, but your food choices also make a big difference. Eating a well-rounded diet that includes whole grains, whole fruits, vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates play a big role in how your body functions. Have you noticed that after a few days of eating well, you feel more energized and alert? This is because you're fueling your body with proper nutrients that it needs to function efficiently. Eating junk-food occasionally is okay in moderation, but not as the main source of calories.
It's easy to fall into 'fad diets' and believing false dietary information that's advertised in a misleading way. If it's too good to be true, it usually is!
Live healthy and strong!