General recommendations for healthy weight loss are simple and clear. But, it’s not that easy. Read this article.
Your body needs a minimum of 50 percent of carbohydrates, 30 percent of fat and from 10 to 15 percent of protein.
So, weight loss programs usually goes like this. To find the right amount of calories we need everyday we use one of the well-known formulas to calculate our average energy consumption, taking into account our characteristics such as body weight, height, age, gender and level of physical activity (per week).
This information is called the daily energy requirement for maintenance of body weight and tells us what is the average allowed energy intake (with certain body characteristics taken into account) to maintain the body weight we desire. Such tool is for example a BMI calculator, or BMR calculator. There is another handy tool available on our site that will calculate your weight loss plan, weight loss calculator.
Then, we calculate how much we need to reduce the daily energy intake in order to lose the desired amount of body fat. Recommended reduction in body fat (body weight) is around 500 grams up to a maximum of one kilogram per week. This is possible by consuming about 7000 calories less every week (or 7700 calories as recommended by WHO).
We can achieve this deficit in two ways. We eat 7000 calories less (1000 calories less every day) or by increasing physical activity to burn additional 7000 calories (1000 calories per day). But the best way to decrease calories intake by 7000 calories per week is by eating 3500 calories less and by burning additional 3500 calories by running (which is considered best workout to lose weight), cycling, swimming…
That’s right. Calorie intake isn’t everything.
In addition to lesser energy intake is also the importance of intake of individual nutrients, not only due to loss of body fat, but also because of your own health. Only a balanced and varied diet can provide all the necessary nutrients to our body. You should always provide your body with every nutrient it needs.
The daily energy intake according to generally accepted guidelines are like these – your body needs a minimum of 50 percent of carbohydrates (of which a maximum of 10 percent can be simple sugars), and 30 percent of fat (mostly monounsaturated, 10 percent polyunsaturated and less than 10 percent saturated) and from 10 to 15 percent of protein.
These are of course just averages and many experts on weight loss considers these policies not optimal. Why? Because these guidelines do not allow additional weight loss at some point, even to those that are physically active.
These guidelines do not take into account two indisputable facts:
- The first and biggest problem is too much of variation in metabolic rate (fast metabolism / slow metabolism) for different people. There can be a difference of up to 1000 calories in daily calories spending when individual is idle. So the calculated daily energy requirement is only a mere average, which does not take into account the individual diversity for people with same body characteristics (body weight, height and age).
- Another equally important problem (shown especially in physically active individuals) is the fact that the recommended nutrient intake does not provide sufficient protein intake in order to maintain your muscles which happen to be a big factor in when it comes to metabolic rate and the speed of weight loss – more muscles, faster weight loss / less muscles, lesser weight loss. Maintaining a high level of metabolism is also important to maintain ideal body weight after a diet.
The answer is not simple. A good weight-loss menu can never be universal, but must always be individually tailored. When we are preparing the menu we must consider all of the above factors. But this is still not personal enough. We must then adapt this menu according to how our body responses in the first few weeks of dieting. At the beginning of diet we should monitor particularly closely what happens to our body (we should record body weight, photograph ourself from front, rear and side once a week in the morning on an empty stomach, measure skin folds on the most problematic body parts).
It should be noted that weight does not give the real information about the current loss of body fat, which is especially true for those who start a diet and at the same time start to practice in gym, because such training maintains your body weight and even developes additional muscle tissue! This means that you can lose a lot of body fat but your body weight remains constant or decreases very slowly (because at the same time muscles are also growing). Taking periodic photos of your body and waist measurement is by far the most reliable method of monitoring your progress.
Also keep in mind that we have to choose foods with high nutrient density, that is to consume foods providing more nutrients and protective substances while minimizing the energy input at the same time. Such foods are mainly vegetables, proteins and unprocessed carbohydrate foods. We must add some healthy fat sources, like omega3 fatty acids. Such menu can be called an optimal menu for weight loss.
First, read about the basics of successful weight loss.
- Daily energy intake should be adjusted to your personal needs – an individual approach. The basic or initial value can be obtained by calculation using different formulas available on the web. Search for “daily calories intake”.
- We should lower the daily energy consumption by max of 20% (resulting in 80% of basic intake, calculated above). Example: if your daily calorie intake is 2000 calories to maintain your body weight you should consume about 1600 calories per day for a successful weight loss.
- In addition, energy consumption can be achieved by increased physical activity (exercise with weights, aerobic activities such as running or swimming).
- We should slightly increase the protein intake.
- We must choose foods with high nutrient density, which contain important nutrients and protective substances for the optimal functioning of our body.
- We monitor our progress by taking photos of our body from different angles and by measuring our waist size and body weight. Loosing 3 kilograms and not a centimeter in our waist size is not a good size. Better to gain 1 kilogram and lose 1 centimeter in waist size!
- Measurement of body weight is not necessarily credible information for the loss of body fat, because we can lose or gain muscle (and that can show as lower or higher body weight).
- Diets should be undertaken gradually and we should not overdo them. If diet is too strict and too rapid we may lose motivation and hinder our progress in weight loss. Also, this is not good for your health either. Read about weight loss motivation in our article.
- We should consume plenty of water, especially plain water or tea with no sugar (green tea is best).
- Extra fat (extra weight) that we’ve obtained during several years can not be lost in few weeks! Don’t give up if the results are not satisfying. Carry on! If there is no progress for a longer period that means that we are doing something wrong. Find the reason and don’t give up!