Before I start this blog I first want to explain a couple of terms that are quite important.
- Basal Metabolic Rate– this is the amount of energy you burn at rest every day just to maintain normal body functions such as breathing, circulation, digestion and so on. Basal Metabolic Rate usually accounts for the largest part of your total daily calorie expenditure-about two thirds! This is very important and something people forget!
- Lean Body Mass– Is the total weight of all your body tissues excluding fat. This includes not only muscle but also bone and other fat-free tissues. Since muscle is the largest component of lean body mass, tracking your LBM can tell if you´ve lost or gained muscle. Muscle burns more than fat so if you have a higher lean body mass your basal metabolic rate is going to be higher.
- Activity Level– The more active you are, the more calories you burn. If you sit behind a desk all day and relax on the sofa all night, you don´t burn much.
- Weight– The bigger you are, the more calories you require to sustain and move your body.
- Age– metabolic rate decreases with age
- Gender– Men burn more than women.
TOTAL DAILY ENERGY EXPENDITURE– is the total number of calories your body burns in 24 hours, including basal metabolic rate and all activities. To calculate TDDEE you have to add basal metabolic rate + activity level + weight + lean body mass+ age+ gender.
Ok, now that we have cleared up these terms let´s talk about how to lose fat properly. Most people don´t realize there is a great difference between losing fat and losing weight. They are completely different things and while losing fat is usually great, losing weight on the other hand can have horrible consequences if not done properly. I have already established in my other post that, to lose fat, you have to create a calorie deficit. So, what people usually do is they go on these horrific diets and create a caloric deficit and lose weight. But the problem is that the body doesn´t know the difference between starvation and diet, it thinks it´s the same thing. So, the body protects itself. First thing it does is it burns muscle because muscle consumes more calories and the body doesn´t want that when in a calorie deficit. In other words, you have lost weight but just ruined your BASAL METABOLIC RATE, which is how you burn most of your calories. On top of that you now weigh less, which you may think is better, but remember the more you weigh the more calories you consume. So once you get off the diet and start eating ¨normal¨ your basal metabolism rate is going to be slower than before. Other horrible things that diets do are:
- It can increase hunger – The body wants to protect itself so it is going to tell you the whole day that you are hungry
- Diets decrease your energy and work capacity – Less energy, the less you move around, the less calories you are going to burn
- Diets can decrease thyroid hormone – Thyroid levels help regulate your metabolic rate, so it is not good if we mess with that
- Diets increase cortisol – Cortisol is the stress hormone and is also a catabolic (muscle wasting), big NO NO.
That is why diets usually don´t work!! What works is a lifestyle change, meaning you eat more properly and you exercise more.
I´ll finish by giving some tips on how to lose fat:
- Build muscle or at least don´t lose the muscle you already have
- If you go in a calorie deficit, eat more protein and fiber
- Eat natural whole foods
- Move more
- Instead of seeing how much weight you have lost, check how much fat you have lost
Seems quite simple, no?
Tomiyama JA, Mam T, Vinas D, Huner, M J, DeJager I, Taylor E S. Low calorie diets increase cortisol. PsychosoMed May 2010:72(4):357-64.
Mann T, Tomiyama AI, Lew AM, Westling E, Chatman, Samules B. The search for effective obesity treatment. Should medicare fund diets? American Psychologist 2007; 62:220-33.
Korkeita M, Rissaren A, Kaprio I, Sorensen TI, Koskenuvo M. Weight loss attempts and risk of mayor weight gain: a prospective study in finnish adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1999; 70: 965-75
Wadden TA1, Mason G, Foster GD, Stunkard AJ, Prange AJ.Effects of a very low calorie diet on weight, thyroid hormones and mood. Int J Obes. 1990 Mar;14(3):249-58.
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