Weight Loss Bootcamp Extreme
Step Three. How Much Do You Eat?
For many fat people, their problem is a result not of what they’re eating but of how much they’re eating. Actually, it’s probably a combination of the two.
You’ll see what I mean if you write down a list of everything you ate and drank yesterday. And I mean everything.
NO, REALLY, I WANT YOU TO GO AWAY AND DO IT.
Don’t just read the words and move on. Stop here and go away and write your list. Every single cookie, piece of candy, muffin from the coffee shop, chocolate, cake because it’s the accountant’s birthday, can of soda, cup of coffee, sandwich, meal, bowl of cereal.
It’s not easy, is it? The problem is, particularly if you’re grazing in a 24-hour sort of way, that you just can’t keep track of what’s going into your mouth. That’s why the three mealtimes with no extraneous eating is so helpful; It gives us a framework in which to track these things and this is going to be invaluable when we get to monitoring our calorie intake.
So how much are you eating? And how much should you be eating if you want to lose weight? You’ll have no doubt seen the little panels on the side of just about every food product we buy telling you that the average daily requirement for a man is about 2500 calories and for a woman, about 2000 calories. This figure has actually been reduced in recent years from 3000/2500.
This is due to improved calorimetry (how they measure the body’s requirements) and it makes sense to adhere to the latest guidelines in my view. Now, remember that these are values for
the average man and woman. No such person exists, of course, and if you’re very fat, then you have a big body to maintain and your daily calorific requirement is going to be somewhat higher.
But I wouldn’t take this as an indication that you can eat more than the daily recommendation and still lose all your fat. Do you want to lose weight, or don’t you? Stick to the rules and you will.
Now, we’ve established that the average daily energy intake in order to maintain a stable weight is 2500/2000 calories (man/woman). But we want to lose weight in a controlled way for many months to come. So, we don’t want to go mad and try to do it all at once.
Slow and easy does it every time, and I’d recommend that if you’re a man you should be aiming to limit your daily intake to about 300 calories under your maintenance value, for women, 200 calories under. Therefore, we’re actually aiming for 2200/1800 calories per day in order to lose weight.
How much weight will you lose if you do that? Well, if you’re 300/200 calories per day below maintenance, that’s 2100/1400 calories per week. One pound of fat contains about 3500 calories so, you’ll be losing weight at the rate of ½ to ⅔ of a pound per week. Now this might not seem like very much but you need to remember that this is a long-term project.
Your aim is to change the way you think about food. For the rest of your life. It’s perfectly possible to lose more than this every week but we both know that crash diets just don’t work; your weight yo-yos up and down and within weeks you’re back where you started. That’s not going to happen this time as long as you don’t rush at it like a bull in a China shop.
So, have you got your list of everything you ate yesterday written out? Of course, you have. You know what you need to do now. Try to place a calorie value against each one. I can’t really help you here as I don’t know what’s on your list but there are plenty of resources online that can help you with it.
You’ll notice that a good many items have more calories in them than you might guess. Most people underestimate by about 25% so, if you’ve had to guess any of the calorie values on your list, increase them by a third and add them up again. (You might think I’ve made an arithmetical error here but I promise you, that’s what you need to do.)
You also need to be as accurate as you can about the quantities you’ve eaten. This is straightforward if it’s a chocolate bar, where the weight (and the calorific value) is printed on it, but not so easy if it’s a piece of cake that someone has baked at home.
I want you to be serious about this project so I suggest you find a similar sized piece of cake and actually weigh it. It’s probably several ounces. And you need to take account of whether it had cream in it or not.
Be systematic and sensible about this. It’s important to get a clear idea of how many calories you’re consuming every day.
After doing all this (and it might take you several days to get it right), add up your calories. What was your daily total? I’ll bet you a dime to a dollar it’s more than 2500/2000 calories.
Now, go through your list again, crossing out any items that are simply extras, such as candy, chips and cakes and the like. You need to see whether it’s possible to get anywhere near your target calorie intake by just eliminating unnecessary items from your diet. If you can, you’re lucky, most people are way over their limit even after cutting out all the rubbish.
Note: This is important so I’m going to repeat what I’ve said above. Why am I limiting the target to 2200/1800 calories when much greater weight loss could be achieved with a more aggressive cut? It’s because what we’re aiming for here is a regime that can actually work. It’s also important to remember that aggressively starving yourself will also eat into your muscle tissue. This includes heart muscle, and we certainly don’t want to reduce the power of that particular organ when you’re overweight.
So, take your weight reduction slowly and steadily. I know it’s very tempting to try to achieve as much loss as possible as quickly as possible, once you commit yourself to this project but if you start starving yourself, you’ll fail within a week or two. Guaranteed.
Now, having established the magnitude of the problem, that is, how many calories it’s possible to cut out of your diet, you need to start putting some daily lists together of what you can allow yourself to eat in future.
Now remember, for the next year or so, you’re going to be in a weight loss phase; consuming fewer calories every day than your body needs. Once you get down to a BMI of 25 you can let the brakes off a little and put yourself into a maintenance phase where your daily calorie intake is equal to your bodily requirement.
As you will know very well, there are thousands upon thousands of diet recipe books out there so what you need to do is go through them and put together some meal ideas on paper.
One for each day of the week. I’m not going to tell you what to eat, that’s your business. And the more of this project that you do for yourself, the more likely you are to stick to it, right?
Take Away Message from Step Three
You need to work out how many calories you consume every day. Actually, draw up a list. You’ll be shocked. Work out a way of limiting your intake to the values I mentioned above. Your goal is for a small, steady weight loss. Rapid weight loss is doomed to fail.
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