Weight Management: Do The Math

Losing weight is, at the concept level, a very simple thing. Our bodies run on fuel--adenosine triphosphate, to be exact. Most things we eat get converted to ATP in a number of ways. If, however, our bodies deem that they have enough ATP on hand, then those things we eat get converted to fat. Later, if we need more ATP the fat gets converted, just as if we had newly eaten something.

If we take in more convertibles than we need, we end up with excess fat--and gain weight.

In the final tally, weight management is balancing the amount of convertible intake with the amount of demand we put on our bodies for using ATP.

Notice how carefully I have avoided the words "Calorie" and "exercise"? I know many of us are scared by those words.

However, the Calorie is a unit of heat and is used to quantify the energy potential of foods we take in. It is also used to quantify the amount of fuel we burn when we exercise. Ready for another scary word?  Math.

If Calories in is greater than Calories out, we store the extra potential energy as fat. It is that simple. We gain weight.

If Calories in is less than Calories out, we convert fat (and muscles) to energy. We lose weight. Also simple.

I know people hate the idea of counting Calories! There are many systems where you count points or colors, or something else. You are allowed so many of something, but at the biophysics level, ultimately if you do all the conversions (e.g. so many grams of carbohydrates convert to some number of Calories), it is a matter of Calories taken in versus Calories expended.

Here is the simple truth, no matter what you are counting:

To lose fat from you body, take in less and burn more.

I know you hate me, now. Sorry. Blame it on the math.

Check out the sections to follow--I promise, being successful isn't as terrible as it sounds!

Besides taking in less, it should be noted, there are ways to get your body to burn more energy. Exercise, naturally, is one of those ways.  But many diet plans offer food combinations that work together to accelerate the burning of energy. We'll explore these things in later sections.

How Much Must Be Burnt?

One pound of body fat is about 3500 Calories. To lose a pound of fat, then, you need to burn 3500 Calories more than you take in.

Is that a lot?  Not really.

Say you are NOT GAINING weight, and part of your lifestyle is to have a have a candy bar and a sweetened soda every day for a snack... That's about 450 Calories. If you change that to a diet soda (or, better for you, water) and a granola bar, you are down to about 100 Calories--a 350 Calorie reduction.

Cheeseburger and fries can fit with weight loss
if balanced with other factors.
Without changing ANYTHING ELSE, by simply cutting back 350 Calories a day, you will lose one pound every 10 days--about three pounds a month. That's 36 pounds a year. To lose more, cut back more per day. Or burn more... Easy!

My 60 pound weight loss took place over two years. By making minor changes to my lifestyle (that I discuss in the sections that follow), I was able to drop two or three pounds a month for two years.

And following those same habits after getting to my doctor-happy weight, I have been able to stay in a suitable weight range ever since.

If there is a secret to what I am calling the Reasonable Fitness approach, it is simply that a little change here and there over a lifetime adds up. This approach is not going to get you ready for bikini season in three weeks. Or three months, even.

But it is an approach you can use for the rest of your life.

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