Congratulations! You have made the decision to take action in pursuit of your better self, and you want to lose weight.
But what actions should you take? More workouts? Cardio? Less carbs? Less fat?
While the decision making can certainly be complicated, we wanted to simplify the process into a step-by-step, feedback oriented approach.
First, a few definitions.
Caloric surplus: eating more calories than is required by your metabolism and activity level. This will most likely end up in weight gain, and if you’re not working out, additional fat storage as well. Working out? Cool. This will probably end up helping build muscle (10-15% surplus is a good starting point).
Caloric balance: sometimes referred to as ‘maintenance’ phase, this is when calories eaten is equivalent to calories expended (includes daily activity levels). This is super important as a concept for a few reasons, but we do not need to get into them now. (okay fine, this is where highly complex, detailed body re-composition can happen).
Caloric deficit: eating less calories than is required by your metabolism and activity level. This will result in a loss of body-fat, muscle or a combination of the two. The combination of a steady caloric deficit (10-15%) and strength training has been proven in research to be the backbone of many physical transformations.
Now that we have definitions out of the way, let us continue on to the action steps.
If you are looking to lose weight, find out how many calories you are a) eating and b) required for your metabolism.
After 2 weeks, check your progress against the scale. Three things may happen:
- Weight loss: yay! Jump up and down (just not on the scale). This process works, and you just proved it. Continue doing what you are doing, and keep progressing until number two happens.
- Nothing: Uh oh. All that effort, and nothing happened? Most people should not be discouraged, for a few reasons. First, weight loss is not a linear equation, especially on the scale. Second is where things get tricky: if nothing happened on the scale but you have made improvements in eating and working out of 20-40% or more, then a more complicated event may be underway. Body recomposition is when your weight does not change but muscle is built and fat is lost. This even exchange can be discouraging to many who judge progress only on the scale. However, usually these people are the same ones who say they notice a difference in the mirror, in the way their clothes fit, and the way they feel. Lastly, if there are any menstrual fluctuations within the two weeks then water gained or lost may be affecting scale weight. No weight loss over two weeks is not always a bad sign.
- Weight gain: if you noticed a gain in weight on the scale, then there is a good chance you are eating too many calories. Reduce caloric intake by 10% and re-check the scale in two weeks.
- Repeat the process of changes made, assess those changes semi-monthly, and make changes if necessary.
Lastly, if your goal is not to lose weight but to change size or shape, then body recomposition is your goal.
This super-complicated yet simple term is when the following happens:
You drop the rough equivalent (in pounds) of fat and gain muscle.
And since you know that muscle and fat weigh the same but take up very different amounts of space, you will know exactly what your goal is.
But how do I change body composition?
Let us keep things simple and use a 30 year old, 130 pound female at 5’2” who wants to change shape.
By calculating her bodyfat (22%) we can estimate her lean body mass (130 x .78). At 101.4 pounds of lean body mass, we know that in order to change shape, we are going to use the following assumptions:
- Workout days refers to weight training and not cardio
- Rest days includes cardio
- Lean body mass goal (adding 5 pounds of muscle) is what we use to calculate protein requirements
Supporting lean body mass (muscle) in this process is a huge factor in being successful in body recomposition, hence why we do not account for increased caloric consumption as a result of cardio in the projections below.
Workout day recommendations: 125g Protein, 125g carbs, 45 grams of fat (1,405 calories total)
Non-workout day recommendations: 125g Protein, 50g carbs, 55 grams of fat (1,195 calories total)
While the difference of 200 calories may not seem big on paper, that’s 18% more calories on workout days.
So, what do you think? Can you try the process above and let me know how it goes? As always, if you need any help with workouts, calculations or any other questions, shoot me a message below or on Instagram or Facebook (@coachkevdineen).