Is there a magical answer to lose or gain weight? The answer is yes, but the answer isn’t magical. Chances are you most likely already know what I’m about to tell you. To lose weight, you must simply burn more calories than you consume. To gain weight, you must simply burn less calories than you consume. That’s it? Yes, that’s it!
Now you know the million dollar answer, find your daily calorie maintenance level (the amount of calories you burn a day), and either consume less calories to lose weight or consume more calories to gain weight.
Daily Calorie Maintenance Level
A good rule of thumb is to multiply your weight by 14 and 17.
For example, I weigh 180 pounds. I would then do 180 x 14 and 180 x 17 and get an estimated daily calorie maintenance level of somewhere between 2520-3060 calories. Quite the range right? Now factor in your activity level. I workout every day and my job is physical, so I’d most likely burn towards 3060 calories.
I recommend losing or gaining no more than a pound a week. Any more and you can risk losing muscle or putting on too much fat, which is something nobody wants to do. So now that I have my daily calorie maintenance level, I know how many calories to eat. To lose a pound a week I’d have to eat 2560 calories a day (500 calories below maintenance x 7 days = 3500 less calories = a pound). To gain a pound a week I’d have to eat 3560 calories a day (500 calories above maintenance x 7 days = 3500 extra calories = a pound).
So If I Only Eat Cheetos, But I Consume Less Than I Burn, I’d Lose Weight?
Yes. Although what you are eating isn’t very nutritious (basically styrofoam), you’d still lose weight.
What’s The Catch?
What you eat is very important. After all, you are what you eat. I try to craft my diet to be 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat with wholesome food (as little processed foods as I can). Everyone is different, so feel free to play with your carbs and fats. The only advice I have is to eat at least 0.7 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day (180 pounds x 0.7 = 126 grams of protein per day). This makes sure you lose as little muscle as you can (need protein to maintain muscle).
What About Sugar, Sodium, And All That Jazz?
Meet the IFFYM (if it fits your macros) diet. Just keep track of your macros and don’t worry about your micronutrients (such as sugar and sodium).
Now I’m Hungry, What Should I Eat?
Keep it simple and keep it clean. Try to eat wholesome foods and limit yourself on processed foods. Other than that, eat whatever you want! Live a little! Dieting doesn’t have to be painful.
All This Is Too Much Work…
No, it really isn’t. A great app to help you with all of this is “MyFitnessPal.” You can set your weight goals, keep a diary of what you eat (whatever you eat is saved so entering meals can be as quick as one tap), and see the macros in your diet in a easy to read pie chart. Best of all, it’s free! Comment below what you think.
Protein and carbohydrates both contain 4 calories per gram, while fat provides 9 calories per gram.