Losing weight: Nutrition

You are unhappy with your body? Numerous diets seem to help you to reach your dream body, but which diet is best for you? In this blog post, I’ll show you what to look out for in your diet to lose weight and how much weight you can lose sustainably. In the end, you will realize, that the way to lose weight is much simpler than you might think right now.

In this article of my weight loss series, I will explain the relevant nutrition basics. In the next article, I will cover the athletic aspect of losing weight.

Basics

Every person has a daily energy requirement (basal metabolic rate) which varies according to physical activity and some other factors. This daily requirement is measured in kilocalories (kcal), a unit you’ve probably heard of before.

If you consume more than your daily energy needs you will gain weight, if you are consuming less, you will lose weight. It’s that simple. Whether you achieve this with a low carb, paleo, low fat, or another diet does not make much difference in terms of losing weight. In terms of energy supply, food intolerances and other factors however, a specific diet can make a difference.

Your basal metabolic rate

There are several ways to determine your energy needs. The easiest way is to use one of many available online calculators to get an approximate value. I will link 2 calculators below, which you can use. The first calculator also includes your activity level, while the second calculator provides only averages:

Manytools Calculator

BMR Calculator

Another option is to use a fitness tracker. This usually provides you with a value for your basal metabolic rate and also has the advantage, that it can directly calculate the increased energy requirements for your individual workouts.

Personally, I have a fitness tracker and have also calculated my basal metabolic rate with different online calculators and compared the results. That’s how I determined my basal metabolic rate pretty accurately.

Implementation

What does this mean for your diet? In terms of weight loss, it means that you can basically eat anything, as long as you do not exceed your daily basal metabolic rate. Ideally, however, you are careful to choose a balanced diet and try to choose foods that will saturate you for a long time. That way you can avoid deficiency symptoms (you are in a caloric deficient when losing weight and should therefore supply your body with all the necessary micro and macronutrients) and make sure that you have enough energy for your daily tasks!

Whole grains or complex carbohydrates should be prefered because of that. I would also recommend to consume a lot of vegetables, because on the one hand, you consume important micronutrients and on the other hand, they are usualy low on kcal. This means, that you can eat large amounts of vegetables and stay saturated longer.
Which diet you stick to in order to achieve this, is up to you. I have tried numerous diets, but cannot give you a recommendation for THE diet. If you consider the conditions mentioned above, every diet works.

As part of a diet, it is important to know about the individual macronutrients and their effects on your body. If you would like to know more about this topic, I would recommend my Macronutrient series consisting of 3 parts: Macronutrients

However, I want to mention that the processes in the human body are much more complex than simply describing them with a daily caloric limit. If you consume more than about your basal metabolic rate on one day and are significantly below your caloric intake on another day, that’s okay too. If I want to lose weight, I try to calculate with a weekly caloric deficit rather than a daily deficit.
Don’t make it too complicated!

How much weight can you lose?

You have probably read many times that you should not lose too much weight in too short a time. This is unhealthy in the long term because you are not supplied with all the nutrients your body needs during a high caloric deficit. You also run the risk of falling victim to the JoJo effect.
With a radical diet, our metabolism switches to the “resting state”. As soon as you eat as usual again, our body wants to save all food immediately and the lost weight is quickly restored. The process itself is more complex and is linked to the fact, that during a radical diet muscle protein is broken down. If you want to know more about this process, please let me know in the comments!

Furthermore, people with more weight can lose weight easier and faster than people who already weigh less.

The recommendations for how much weight you should lose per week vary, but are usually kept within 0.5-1 kg per week. If you consider that one kilogram of body fat has about 7000kcal, then you would need to have a daily deficit of about 1000kcal to lose one kg of body fat a week. At 0.5 kg per week, the deficit thus amounts to 500kcal a day, in the long term certainly a more realistic goal.

I went through a radical diet many years ago myself and in retrospect regretted it. I have lost a lot of muscle and had some defiency symptopms and would never consider or recommend such a diet again. Right now, when cutting I maintain a long-term deficit of about 300-500kcal, and I think, that’s also the best way to lose weight sustainably.

Did you like this post and would you like to learn more about losing weight or about nutrition in general? Let me know in the comments!
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