The Simple Math of Weight Loss

# The Simple Math of Weight Loss

1145
SHARE

Your body burns calories to supply the energy that you need to live, work, and play. If you eat more calories than you need for your daily activities, your body stores the extra calories as fat. As long as you continue eating more calories than you need, your calorie reserves (fat) continue to grow. The equation below summarizes what happens to the calories in the food you eat. Neither your genetics nor your food environment can change this simple mathematical truth:

Calories stored = calories eaten – calories burned. Think of calories as money. If you earn (eat) just a little more than you spend (burn), your savings (fat) will gradually grow over time. When you eat fewer calories than you need for your daily activities, your body dips into the savings and some of your fat is burned to supply the needed energy. When this happens, you begin to lose weight. Even a small change in your eating or exercise habits, if continued long enough, can make a big difference in your weight over time.

For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, and 25 percent of that weight is from fat, then your fat-free weight is 120 pounds. You would calculate your RMR like this: RMR = 120 x 10 + 500 = 1,700 calories Thus, you would burn about 1,700 calories (about three cheeseburgers) each day without even getting out of bed. If you weigh yourself in kilograms instead of pounds, replace the 10 with 22 in the above equations.

To calculate your own RMR, you would, of course, need to know your percentage of body fat. Skinfold measurements provide a reasonably accurate way of doing this. The easiest way to take skinfold measurements is with body fat calipers, which can be purchased online and usually come with detailed instructions for calculating percentage of body fat. My point here, however, is not to advocate calorie counting as a tool for natural weight loss. It is to help you understand the relationship between metabolism and weight loss. Your resting metabolism mostly reflects the amount of organ and muscle tissue you have, and is about the same as the metabolism of the next man or woman who has the same amount of muscle and organ tissue. If that next man or woman seems to have an easier time keeping the weight off than you do, a faster metabolism is probably not the reason.