Nowadays, being overweight is becoming a bigger and bigger problem. For this reason, more and more people are choosing to lose weight. Both women and men, and more and more often also children. Most people usually look for methods that bring the desired results quickly, and preferably without much sacrifice. That is why “miracle diets” such as the cabbage diet, the Atkins diet, juice detox, etc. are becoming so popular. Using such diets without the recommendation of a doctor or dietitian, however, may have serious health consequences, so I advise against this type of solution. So if you want to approach weight loss wisely and lose weight permanently and effectively, this article was created just for you.

What is caloric balance?

Caloric (energy) balance is the difference between the amount of energy supplied to the body with food and the amount of energy expended by the body on various life functions (e.g. breathing, blood circulation, eyelid blinking), everyday activities, work, physical activity, etc. It distinguishes there are 3 types of energy balance:

Zero energy balance – the amount of energy supplied is equal to the amount of energy expended – it is used when you want to maintain your body weight, do not want to lose weight or gain weight.

Positive energy balance – the amount of energy supplied is greater than the amount of energy expended – it is used when you want to increase your body weight, mainly muscle mass.

Negative energy balance – the amount of energy supplied is lower than the amount of energy expended – you use it when you want to reduce your body weight, reduce body fat.

And it is the negative energy balance that is the basis of any reduction diet, it cannot be overcome. You can actually eat what you want, it’s important to eat less than you spend. However, if you eat chocolate or bananas or carrots all day, will it be healthy and good for you? The quality of food, its composition, the supply of all nutrients that affect our appearance, body composition, mental work, strength, energy, skin, etc. is also important. Another issue is the multiplicity of the energy deficit, i.e. how much to reduce the amount of food to lose weight. The deficit should not be too large or too small. Everything should be selected individually for us, for our lifestyle, health and physical activity. How to do it right and wisely?

Caloric content of a slimming diet, i.e. how much to eat?

First you need to calculate the PPM value, i.e. the basic metabolism. PPM is the lowest level of metabolism that occurs in the human body on an empty stomach, in complete physical and mental peace. It includes all the energy expenses that are necessary to maintain life functions, such as: brain, heart, breathing, excretion, blood circulation, etc. You burn so much energy as if you were lying in bed all day and doing nothing. PPM depends on:

  1. Gender – Men have more muscle tissue and are by nature “larger” than women
  2. Age – PPM decreases with age due to the changing body composition and different metabolic processes
  3. Height and Weight – PPM is greater with higher body weight and height
  4. Health status – pregnancy and breastfeeding increases PPM Health status – pregnancy and breastfeeding increases PPM
  5. Physiological state – PPM is higher in the case of fever or hyperthyroidism, while it decreases in the case of hypothyroidism and malnutrition
  6. Ambient temperature – a drop in PPM causes high temperature, while low temperature causes an increase in PPM

There are many formulas or calculators that can help you calculate your daily energy, or caloric, requirements. Here are a few of them:

1.The simplest and one of the first patterns

1 kcal x 24h x body weight in kg

2.The pattern of Harris and Benedict

Men = 66.47 + 13.75 x weight (kg) + 5.03 x height (cm) – 6.7550 x age

Women = 655.09 + 9.56 x weight (kg) + 1.84 x height (cm) – 4.67 x age

3. Mifflin’s formula

Men = SWE (resting kcal energy expenditure) = (10 x body weight [kg]) + (6.25 x height [cm]) – (5 x [age]) + 5

Women = SWE (resting kcal energy expenditure) = (10 x body weight [kg]) + (6.25 x height [cm]) – (5 x [age]) – 161

When we have PPM, you need to calculate the CPM, which is the total metabolism. It is the sum of energy processes related to human life processes and his daily physical activity. In order to calculate CPM, we need the Physical Activity Coefficient, or PAL.

PAL takes the following values:

Mostly inactive or sedentary lifestyle = 1.2

A poorly active lifestyle (walking and exercising 1-2 times a week) = 1.3

Average active lifestyle (amateur exercises 2-3 times a week) = 1.4

Active lifestyle (heavy exercise more than 3 times a week, manual labor) = 1.5

Heavily active lifestyle (heavy exercise every day, physical work) = 1.7

These are also indicative values. We can find different PAL values in different sources.

CPM = PPM x PAL

We should eat so much to maintain our body weight.

So how much should you eat to lose weight?

You need to burn 7,000 kcal to lose 1 kg. As you can see it is a lot. Usually 500 kcal per day is subtracted, which is 3500 kcal per week, so you should lose about 0.5 kg per week.

However, this is not a rule. The energy deficit that should be assumed depends on many factors, e.g. the amount of excess weight, health condition, diseases, amount of physical activity. Some people subtract 200 kcal at first, some 500 kcal, others convert it into a percentage and subtract 10-20%. I am for being rational and smart about it. Fat reduction is a process that is more like a marathon, not a sprint. It’s not a race, no matter if you or your friend lose weight first, it’s important to do it well and permanently. Thanks to this, you will avoid the yo-yo effect and will not be accompanied by hunger and irritation. It’s important to enjoy the entire process. Remember that in addition to losing weight, you also need to live, work and perform other activities of everyday life. Losing weight cannot obscure it and determine your life. Also, if you cut too much calories in the beginning, there may be a problem of what to do when the weight stops. Cut the calories even more or maybe not eat? And on a slight deficit, you have more tools at hand.

How to break down macronutrients in the diet, i.e. how much protein, fats and carbohydrates to eat?

Once you have a caloric intake on your diet, remember that it is not only the amount of calories that matters, but also their quality. It is important that the diet includes products rich in protein, fats and carbohydrates. Their appropriate amounts and mutual proportions can contribute to the reduction of adipose tissue and affect better well-being.

Each of the macronutrients has its own calorific value:

Protein – 4kcal

Fats – 9 kcal

Carbohydrates – 4 kcal

Protein

Protein should constitute approx. 10-20% of the caloric requirement, minimum 1 g / kg body weight. Protein has a building function, contributes to the maintenance of muscle mass, which affects the overall metabolism. More protein in a reduction diet increases the feeling of fullness. Protein additionally has the highest thermal effect, i.e. it requires more energy from the body to process, digest and absorb than fats and carbohydrates.

Sources: meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy. According to official recommendations, they should constitute 45-65% of the daily energy requirement, but their amount should be determined individually for a given person depending on physical activity. I believe that more carbohydrates are needed by a very physically active person compared to a person with minimal physical activity, with the same parameters as age, gender and weight.

Sources: vegetables, fruits, groats, rice, potatoes, pasta, legumes.

Fats

Fats should be in the range of 20-35% of the caloric requirement. They affect the proper functioning of the nervous and endocrine systems. They are necessary even on a reduction diet. Focus mainly on fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, linseed oil, fatty fish, eggs, dairy products. Trans fats, which can constitute a maximum of 1% of the energy requirement, should be eliminated for sure. They contribute to the development of cancer, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, and many other serious health problems. There are, among others in chips, fast food, cookies, sweets, processed products.

The most popular macronutrient breakdown looks like this:

20% protein, 30% fat, 50% carbohydrate

At the beginning, such a distribution can work for everyone, but the amount of individual macronutrients should be selected individually depending on many different factors and our needs.

Sample of diet to reduce fat: 

To better understand the calorie calculation of a reducing diet, take a look at this example:

Mrs. Jean

30 years, 170 cm, 83 kg

paperwork

3 workouts a week – alternating gym, swimming pool, tennis

PPM = 1623 kcal – calculated from the formula

Now we have to calculate CPM taking into account physical activity. We train 3 times a week in various forms, and besides, you are not physically active. Let us assume PAL = 1.4.

CPM = 1623 x 1,4 = 2272 kcal

Jean should eat so many calories when she wanted to maintain her weight. However, Jean wants to lose weight. I would use 2000 kcal at the beginning. It is a moderate deficit of approx. 300 kcal, i.e. approx. 10%

Now let’s calculate the macronutrient distributions:

Protein

It is best to start the calculations with the protein, which should be in the range of 10-20% and amount to min. 1 g / kg body weight. In the case of reducing body fat, it is worth it to be at a higher level. Mrs. Jeanweighs 83 kg, so let’s assume the value of 90 g of protein.

90g x 4kcal = 360 kcal

This gives 18% of the calories in the diet.

Fats

They should be in the range of 20-35%. Jean is moderately physically active, so let’s take fat at the level of 30%.

2000 kcal x 30% = 600 kcal

600 kcal / 9 kcal = 67g

Carbohydrates

We have a fixed amount of protein and fats, so all you need to do is subtract their amount from your total caloric value.

2000 kcal – 600kcal – 360 kcal = 1040 kcal

1040 kcal / 4 = 260g

To sum up

Mrs. Jean on a reduction diet should eat 2000 kcal at the beginning.

Protein = 18% = 360 kcal = 90g

Fat = 30% = 600 kcal = 67g

Carbohydrates = 52% = 1040 kcal = 260g

This is what it looks like in numbers. Now all you need to do is choose the right products, rich in individual nutrients and follow the basic principles of healthy eating.

A healthy approach to the diet – the most important principles of reducing body fat

Do I have to eat 5 meals a day every 3 hours to lose weight?

No, the number of meals during the day should be determined individually, depending on your preferences, possibilities, length of the day, type of work, lifestyle, mood, physical activity. One person can function well on 3 meals a day and another on 6 meals a day. There is no rule here. It’s best to observe which method works best for you. Whether you choose 3 meals a day or 5 meals a day, it will not affect your weight loss.

Take care of your sleep!

Not getting enough sleep and falling overnight significantly worsens insulin sensitivity. Sleep deprivation leads to weight gain through lack of appetite control and higher energy consumption. Neglect of sleep hygiene in healthy young people results in increased fasting blood glucose levels due to changes in circadian cortisol secretion and decreased heart rate variability. Studies have shown that long-term sleep deprivation in a healthy person results in glycemia similar to that in people with type II diabetes. According to studies, shortening the duration of sleep is associated with an increase in BMI. Additionally, sleep deprivation is associated with decreased levels of leptin, a hormone that regulates fat mass and appetite, and increased levels of ghrelin, which increases appetite. Also sleep on health and do not fall into the night!

Remember!

Healthy eating should become your lifestyle. Remember: “The weight loss diet is a marathon, not a sprint.” Let’s enjoy this process and take care of ourselves. Introduce the above rules today and finally approach the topic rationally, instead of looking for shortcuts that are not there.

If you want to know more about how to effectively and safely lose extra kilos, be sure to read the second part of this article:

Slimming part II – mistakes and problems that we may encounter along the way.

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17212793
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21104580
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19753538
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8985315
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8772471