Two simple truths for weight loss

If weight loss was that easy, then everyone would be slim and fit and there wouldn’t be a multi-million Rand market for weight loss drugs, fad diets and fitness programmes. The truth is, while some people are bestowed with a fast metabolism and the ability to lose weight relatively easily – the majority of people actually struggle to lose weight and keep it off.

You might fall into the latter group, but remember that while losing weight might not be easy for you, it’s not impossible. In fact, there are two simple truths about weight loss that you need to keep in mind. 1: eat fewer calories than you burn, and 2: burn more calories than you consume.
Picture it like this: If 0.5kg of fat is made up of around 3,500 calories then you need to create a calorie ‘deficit’ of 3,500 calories if you want to lose 0.5kg of fat. The two best ways to create this deficit is by following the two simple truths we’ve just mentioned:

Eat fewer calories than you burn
Your body burns calories all day as part of your basal metabolic rate and uses energy to perform essential functions such as breathing, digesting and circulating. It also uses additional energy for physical activities such as walking, exercising and working. Here’s what you need to do: aim to eat 500 fewer calories each day for a week – unless you’re eating significantly more calories a day than you should be, in which case you’ll need to cut out more. This adds up to 3,500 calories over 7 days, which as you now know is equal to around half a kilogram of fat. So, by reducing the amount of calories you eat daily, you can expect to lose that amount of weight each week.

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Burn more calories than you consume
This means increasing the amount of physical activity that you do. Basically, if you normally consume enough calories to support your basal metabolic rate, and exercise more, then you create that calorie deficit by burning additional calories through exercise. It’s important to note that this won’t work if you’re already over eating, so you will need to first reduce your daily calorie intake. The same basic calculation works here: if you burn an extra 500 calories each day for a week, you should lose around 0.5kg a week. Also remember that physical activity changes depending on your baseline level of activity. If you have a desk job then walking briskly for 45 minutes per day is an increase in physical activity.

If you are on your feet all day, e.g. a nurse in a hospital ward, then walking is not greater than your baseline activity level – you will have to do something extra, e.g. swimming or walking up an incline or a staircase.

Ideally, you want to work on a healthy combination of these two tactics: eat fewer calories AND burn more calories at the same time. If you want to lose weight, and maintain it, then this is the most effective way. It comes down to creating a calorie deficit and exercise routine that’s going to help you reach your goal weight, and most importantly it’s not done by starving yourself or exercising excessively.

This post is sponsored by Momentum Health.