We’ve all heard it. We all have that co-worker, friend, or even family member that says “It doesn’t matter how much I diet, I’ve been dealt a crappy genetics hand in the form of a "slow" metabolism.” Now, this might ruffle some feathers or even ‘trigger’ some folks but it needs to be said…..You don’t have a slow metabolism, you eat too much food. Period. Are there certain medical conditions like hypothyroidism or low levels of testosterone that may hinder fat loss? Absolutely. However, these conditions do not ‘cause’ fat gain nor do they make fat loss ‘impossible’. Again, the bottom line; you have excess body fat because your caloric intake is at a level that supports fat storage.
So, what can you do about it?
Track - You can’t get where you’re going without knowing where you’re at. When somebody reaches out to me for guidance regarding nutrition, here is the conversation that takes place, every time.
Me: Without dieting, how many calories would you guess you eat on average?
Friend: oh If I were to guess, 3,500-4,000?
Me: How many do you think you need to eat in order to lose excess fat?
Friend: 2,500-3,000 would probably allow me to safely lose 1-2 lbs per week.
Me: download “Lose it!” Or “MyFitnessPal” App and for the next week I want you to track EVERY calorie that enters your mouth. Cream in your coffee, ketchup on your burger, the sugar free gum (yes, there are 5 calories, track it)
A week later……
Me: How many calories are really eating?
Friend: I was anywhere from 4,500 to as high as 8,000.
Me: Now we need to get a body scan done to determine your MBR (Metabolic Basal Rate = how many calories would your body burn if you did nothing but breathe for 24 hours) and your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure = how many calories are you burning on average in your day to day life).
Friend: I got my results back. According to my body scan my MBR is 1850 calories and my TDEE is 2250 calories.
What does all this mean for my well-intended friend? Well, it really comes down to one thing……math. Simple math. His body scan provided him with a fool proof road map to weight loss. His “break even” is 2250 calories. If he wants to lose ONE pound per week he needs to cut 3500 calories from his weekly diet (one pound = 3500 calories). That means cutting 500 calories per day (3500/7 days = 500/day) from his TDEE of 2250. This means if my friend does not increase his level of activity he will only be able to consume 1750 calories per day to experience one pound of fat loss per week. That’s it!!! It’s just math. It’s not a shake, pill, or anything you can buy. It’s just basic math.
You’re probably asking yourself, “if it’s that simple, why is it so hard?”. The short answer; because it’s $%^^&* HARD!! It is. It’s simple but it’s really, really, really hard. And to achieve what we need to be healthy, and in some cases reverse metabolic syndrome, there will be some discomfort and in order to make lifelong lifestyle changes we need to learn how to be comfortable being a little uncomfortable. And remember, it’s not forever. With a solid plan and hard work, we will ultimately get to the “maintenance phase” and be able to enjoy the foods we love in ‘realistic’ moderation.
To be continued.....