You know, that thing you keep saying you’ll do at the beginning of the year to get ready for your “beach bod”.
Losing weight can be a struggle for many people.
But what exactly needs to happen for you to lose weight and how does the process work, and is there a right way to do it?
The factors that influence the vast majority of people’s weight is how much they eat and drink paired with how much physical activity they do.
More specifically, it’s about caloric input and output.
Simply put, a calorie is a unit of energy.
And you’re actually using this energy all the time on things that you might not even notice.
Things like breathing, circulating blood, and growing and repairing cells.
The use of calories on these things collectively form your basal metabolic rate, or metabolism.
And everyone’s metabolism is a little bit different, and is influenced by factors like your body size or muscle makeup; whether you’re a man or a woman, as men burn more calories than women; and your age, since you tend to burn calories more slowly as you age.
Apart from your basal metabolic rate, there are two other factors that require caloric energy: food processing and physical activity.
Food processing being the general digestion, absorption and storage of food.
And physical activity being things like walking, running, and whatever other kinds of moving your body does.
So how can you go about losing weight?
Well, you might be tempted to try to speed up your metabolism, but this isn’t the best route.
While there have been claims that certain foods—like coffee or chili peppers—speed up your metabolism a little bit, the change is so small that it barely registers.
But building up more muscles could help speed up metabolism more than eating these kinds of foods since the more muscle and less fat on your body, the higher your metabolic rate.
But more muscle mass might make you want to eat more, so not much change would occur.
Meanwhile in rare cases, medical issues like hypothyroidism can slow down metabolism and cause weight gain.
All that is to say, you don’t have much control over your metabolism.
Ultimately, weight loss occurs when you create an energy deficit by either consuming less calories or increasing the amount of calories burned, or both.
And you can influence this by upping your physical activity through things like regular exercise which could be activities like walking, running, swimming, or cycling.
Strength training is also recommended for weight loss because muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does.
You could also make simple lifestyle changes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator regularly.
And it’s important to note that while regular exercise is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself, the calories used for physical activity account for less than the amount that’s used for your basal metabolic rate.
So exercise alone doesn’t produce transformative weight loss.
In fact, most experts believe that factors outside of exercise, like diet, carry more influence on our weight.
Which brings us to caloric input.
And when it comes to caloric input, it’s pretty simple: consume less calories.
That means choosing foods that contain less calories as well as just eating smaller amounts of food in general.
An average man burns about 2,500 calories per day, while an average woman burns about 1,800.
So any diet that limits the amount of calories under these numbers will likely result in weight loss.
But it’s not just the amount of calories you need to be aware of, it’s where those calories come from since a cupcake with 200 calories is different from eating 200 calories worth of fruit.
You also need to think about choosing high-quality, healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains rather than foods high in sugar, or saturated and trans fats.
And don’t be fooled by dietary supplements that claim to burn calories for you, there’s no magic trick to make weight loss happen any quicker.
While there are appetite suppressants, which are medications that trick the body into thinking it is not hungry, these are typically diagnosed for patients with obesity and as a short-term treatment as the point is to learn better eating habits one can do on their own.
Ultimately, when it comes to weight loss have patience, as it’s a slow and steady process that produces the most lasting effects.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are 6 packs.
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