This is a lonnnnng post. Much longer than I meant it to be. If you want the quick list / summary click here.
First of all, I'm not judging anyone. I grew up a chubby Asian kid, lost a bunch of weight (the wrong way), gained it all back (hence, the 'wrong way') and then lost it all again. And then some. Now, I'm keeping it off.
Second of all, there are many people out there that know a lot more about nutrition, exercise, anatomy, physiology, etc, etc, than I ever will. I don't doubt that could include someone reading this right now. That is why I said this is a very elementary approach. I'm hoping to open some people's eyes and show them how losing weight is simple math and science. It is a certainty, and a natural law. You don't need to bust your ass with cardio or exercise (you SHOULD still do these), or even deprivation of certain foods. Let me explain.
To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you consume. I'm betting I've already lost most of everyone's attention. Stick with it: "Burn more calories than you consume" is an overused statement that causes people's eyes to glaze over. Like when you read 'abstinence is the best way to prevent pregnancy and STDs'. It's a "no shit" fact, but it's been preached and beaten into our minds so many times that we ignore it or forget the meaning behind the phrase. Plus eating (and sexing) is awesome. Why would we deprive ourselves of it? Well, I'm here to say that you don't have to give ANYTHING up when you 'diet'. You just have to be aware of how many calories are in what you are about to eat and how MUCH you're shoving in your face. Let me put it this way. If you ate enough spinach, you could gain weight. If you ate only 1 BigMac a day, you would lose weight.
Due to word of mouth and dietician mythos, people believe a lot of fallacies about food. People think that carbs turn into fat if you don't use it or eat them late at night. Or when you ingest fat it becomes stored as adipose (body fat) tissue like you just reverse-liposuctioned yourself. That's not how it goes. Let's look at the math.
1 gram of Carbohydrate = 4 calories
1 gram of Protein = 4 calories
1 gram of fat = 9 calories.
That's it. That's how food works. Calories don't come out of thin air. Companies that package food don't pump them into your food items. They come from the Macronutrients listed above. Different forms of energy. If you look at the nutritional value (the label listed on your food products) you can calculate the calories in any, all of your food by applying the above numbers.
The good news: we, as human beings, require energy (calories) to EXIST. By doing nothing more than simply being ALIVE you are burning calories. Better news: you actually burn quite a lot of calories a day by simply existing. Go, you.
The number of calories you burn a day by being...you...is your basal metabolic rate (BMR). It's easy to calculate. By simply typing "BMR Calculator" into Google, you will be met with many, many sites that can calculate yours. That's step one of pretty much a two-step process of 'losing weight'. Second part? EAT LESS CALORIES THAN THIS NUMBER (BMR). That. Is. It.
So, the next question that people seem to always ask, then, is how many calories do I need to eat. Usually, people want to know how many calories are in a pound of body fat (3,500) or how quickly they can burn a pound of fat. We are obsessed with pounds.
Well, to answer the above, that's up to you and your goals. If you ate, say, 200 calories less than your BMR every day, you would burn 1,400 calories a week. (7x200= 1,400). That means in two and a half weeks, you'd lose a pound of body fat, more or less (I'll explain the 'more or less' part, later).
You can cut even more calories (eat less) to speed up the process, but a lot of people (that is to say, people far more professional than I) say that males should eat a MINIMUM of 1,500-1,800 calories a day. Females should eat a minimum of 1,200-1,500. I don't know the reason for these numbers. But let me show you simple math of losing pound(s).
Using my fatass as an example.
I weigh 180, I am 6 foot nothing. I am 25. I have a penis. BMR Calculator says that I burn 1931.8 calories a day. Some BMR calculators take your activity level (sedentary, lightly active, active) into account. They will multiply a small number with your BMR to get a more accurate estimate of how many calories you ACTUALLY burn a day. For this example, I'm going to pretend I don't walk or move, I just hover like the fatasses from Wall-E. That is to say, my activity level is negligible.
|Please note: not a 100% accurate depiction of me.|
So, remember if I want to lose weight, I have to create a calorie DEFICIT (less).
It doesn't matter what I eat, or how much I eat: SO LONG AS IT'S LESS THAN 1931.8 Calories.
Let me just say this right here and now before I get flamed hardcore. You should eat a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables have vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants that keep you healthy.You should also have a balanced diet. Protein, healthy fats, and slow digesting and/or fibrous carbs.
...Buuuuuut we are talking about solely losing weight. Not being healthy. AGAIN: I strongly urge you to eat healthy! But you don't have to, when talking scientifically and objectively, about losing weight. You could, in theory, lose weight while eating just BigMacs or Oreos. But it will catch up to you and you will feel like shit. And then probably die an early death, full of health complications. Also, when you eat high-calorie crap food, you get to eat less food in general. Plus, you don't feel satiated and will more likely overeat (or feel starved all day long). And, oh yeah, it's really, really bad for you. Your body will hate you. I will hate you.
So for my example, I'm going to use imaginary food items because it doesn't matter what you eat, so long as you have the calorie numbers.
So, I wake up today and ate a nice Unicorn steak. It is 500 calories.
During my lunch break at work, I stopped at a gas station and ate the Egg Salad sandwich Fry had in that one Futurama episode. It was 400 calories (and full of worms).
|Mmn, I love my food "Fresh"|
For dinner at home, I ate a baby dingo. It was 300 calories. I also drank a Nuka Cola. It was 180 calories.
Then I hovered my fat ass outside and ate bark for some reason. It was 200 calories. I ate a lot of it.
That's all I had the whole day. Like I said, it's simple math:
(Unicorn+Egg Salad Sandwich+Dingo Baby+Nuka Cola+bark) - 1931.8
(500+400+300+180+200) - 1931.8
1580 - 1931.8 = -351.8
I burned a total of 351.8 calories. That means if I ate the exact same meal for that whole week, I would burn 2,462.6 calories that week (351.8x7 days in a week). 9850.4 calories that month, which is close to three pounds (2,462x4 weeks in a month...usually). And I did no exercise. I ate no vegetables (eat your vegetables, I'm serious). I didn't have to do anything but be aware of how many calories I consumed vs my BMR.
If you eat more calories than your BMR, the opposite happens. You are in caloric surplus/excess, and over time, you will gain weight and/or fat. Forget about all the micro-managing and science behind it. Eat too many carbs a day, you'll get fat. Eat too much protein a day, you'll get fat. Eat too much fat a day, you'll get skinny. Just kidding, you'll get fat. Eat 'too few' of all these things, you will lose weight.
Please stop worrying about what time you ate your last meal, not eating carbs (ever), or thinking you can eat all the nuts (super high in fat), sweet potato fries (super high in carbs and fat), or chug olive oil (pretty much is straight up fat) salad dressing because it is 'healthy' or the 'good kind of fat' (respectively). Sure, it might be 'healthy / healthier' than other alternatives, but you're still ingesting serious amounts of calories.
Look at the calories. Be mindful. Keep a journal or log and you will soon get a feel for how many calories are in what kind of food item. Do it just for one day. I bet you'll be surprised.
I provided the macronutrient numbers earlier because I want you to realize protein, fat, and carbs... they are all calories. Doesn't matter which you ingest. Excess = fat, deficit = fat LOSS.
Things to note: I know exercise is what people always hear when they ask how to lose weight. No, it's not necessary. However, it DOES help. You can burn more calories a week or increase your caloric intake with less consequence. Not to mention, it makes your body operate better, as does any exercise. You increase your cardiovascular endurance and blood flow. You raise your metabolism for a short period of time. For the specifics, you're going to have to Google. But, just like with the calories we are ingesting, we have to calculate how many calories we are burning. Do not make the mistake of thinking if you run for a mile you can have a BigMac and not suffer some set backs.
There are 576 calories in a BigMac. And that's without cheese. Who the hell gets a big mac without cheese?
If you jog for about a mile, you would probably burn about 100-150 calories. For the pain and strain it takes to go running (for me) it's a lot easier to just not eat another 100 calories than it is to get dressed (60 percent of my life is in the buff, I swear), stretch, and go running for a mile. What you eat, your diet, is the first step to your health and weight (loss).
Further things to note: Nutrients and moderation matter. If you ate just fat, your liver would eventually fail. Your muscles would deteriorate. You need protein for muscle (and muscle maintenance). You need fat for nutrient absorption as well as proper body function. You need carbs for energy. Yes, all Macronutrients are energy, but the way the body breaks them down and uses them is different. No carbs and you go into ketosis from the byproducts of protein metabolism.
Simply put: Moderation in all that you do. Balance your diet. Eat healthy. Keep track of the calories of what you're eating. You will lose weight if you have the will power and the dedication. All it takes is calorie tracking. Simple math. Like I said earlier, it's a certainty.
Be sure to check out the simplified version. It's got tips that I didn't get into on this post: Addendum to Weight Loss for Dummies