First, again, let me state for the record. I am not a doctor, I do not even play one on TV. What I am is a person on a journey, a person who has been on other weight loss adventures before. As a kid, and even today, I was always very curious and inquisitive.
In fact, two memories that stand out are once when taking a family vacation in Austin, TX my penchant for asking “too many” questions embarrassed my siblings to the point that two of them ran off and hid. However, one of my questions impressed the tour guide enough that they offered us a chance for a free VIP tour after the regular tour was over. As a result we were taken into areas of the capital not normally seen by the public. The other was my sister getting frustrated by her 6 or 7 year old brother reading the encyclopedia for fun. Really, I would. I AM that big of a geek.
Why tell you this? Because even though I am not a doctor, I am still a seeker of knowledge and information. I just like learning stuff. There still, inside of me, is that little 6 year old boy laying on the floor with the letter “B” absorbing everything I can from “Basketball to Byzantine”.
I have taken that same thirst for knowledge and applied it to my studies in health, weight loss and obesity through the years. I also am good at finding people with the knowledge I want and absorbing their information as we talk. And, as a former journalist, I am good at triangulating my sources so that I am generally somewhat less susceptible to false or misleading information. To be reliable, it must be verifiable.
With that in mind, I thought I would share with you some of what I have gleaned over the years.
This ideas here are not new, they are not radical, and there is not a profit motive. That is why you don’t hear a lot of people preaching it. The concept is basic: we need more nutrient rich foods and fewer nutrient poor foods. Plant based nutrition supplies that, pure and simple. There is no agenda, no book to sell, no profit margin. It is just common sense.
And, when it comes down to it, so is weight loss.
Here are the basics. Then, you do the math. This is only data. You will have to turn it into information, then knowledge, then an action plan that works for you.
Calories – these are not mystifying numbers that represent the comparative health of one ingredient or food versus another. Calories are simply a measurement unit of energy, more precisely, heat. (Each calories the amount of energy or heat necessary to raise water 1 degree Celcius…it is commonly used in science labs to measure chemical reactions.
Your body needs heat (energy) to function. Calories as listed on food packages and in exercise expenditure estimations are actually kilocalories (1,000 calories). We simplify it because otherwise the numbers would get too large for the average person to deal with. Who want to know that a Snickers Bar actually has 350,000 calories? We just knock off the extra zeros and call that measurement a calorie for simplicities sake.
Fat – Fat is the body’s own personal storage system. If calories are energy, then fat is its little battery cell. Each fat cell stores extra or latent energy for the body to consume later at a time when not enough calories, or energy, is being supplied.
Metabolism – Metabolism, for all of the hype that surrounds it, is nothing more than a measurement of how efficiently your machine (your body) converts energy into motion.
A car, for example, has the MPG rating on its windshield when it is at the car lot. It is a way for you to compare how many miles each gallon of fuel will propel your potential vehicle. More efficient cars make more efficient use of the energy that is provided.
It is the same with your body. The more efficiently your machine is working the better it is at turning food stuffs, our energy supply, from potential energy into kinetic (movement) energy.
That is enough geek-laden stuff for now. But being armed with this type of knowledge will give you the data you need to help make better decisions in the future.
Here are a few quick facts to help tie some of this together.
- 1 pound of fat (stored, potential energy) = 3500 calories
- To lose one pound of fat per week, simply use up 500 calories per day more than you consume. By doing so, every week you will require 3500 calories more than your food intake provided so you will lose 1 pound of fat, like clockwork.
- You can burn more calories than you consume by either eating fewer calories or by burning more. It is best (for several reasons) to do a bit of both.
- 1 gram of fat has 9 calories
- 1 gram of protein has 4 calories
- 1 gram of carbohydrates has 3 calories.
- It takes 12 calories to supply the basic metabolic needs (energy needs) for every pound of body weight for the average adult.
- An average, healthy adult female requires about 1800 calories to maintain their body weight and normal bodily functions. (150 lbs x 12 cal per pound = 1800 calories)
- An average, healthy adult male requires about 2200 calories to maintain their body weight and normal bodily functions. (185 lbs x 12 calories per pound = 2220 calories)
- 1 pound of excess fat, stored on the body, is roughly the size of large grapefruit
A diet higher in carbs and proteins and lower in fats will deliver fewer calories and leave you with less excess which will be stored as fat, until it is needed. (Though I won’t go into great detail now, suffice it to say that not all protein or carbs are created equally. Some are easier for your body to access and to break down. For peak efficiency, minimally processed plant sources should be your primary provider of both).
So, what is the point of all of this information? It is pretty simple. You don’t need a gimmick, a drug, a surgery, a convoluted plan, or to spend a lot of money to lose weight. Utilize more calories in a given day than you consume and you will lose weight. Period.
Think of it like this, you are on a calorie budget. Quit living on more than you earn.
That is the only way to get out of debt and the only way to lose weight. We try to make it tough so that we can sell products to people who are desperate. For some, those programs provide structure that has been misssing, so they can serve a purpose. But at the end of the day, each one – whether it is the latest workout video, the newest drug, or the latest diet fad – is geared toward one side of the equation or the other. Either reducing caloric intake or increasing caloric consumption. Both of which you can do on your own.
Again to the budget analogy, you have a choices. You can either spend your disposable income on a night at the movies or you can invest it. You can either buy inferior products, or you can save and buy higher quality more durable goods. You can either rent or you can buy.
Similarly with your calorie budget you can choose to waste your daily allotment on one high fat meal or you can space out the consumption throughout the day on a mixture of sources from carbs, proteins, and fats. the latter gives you the most efficient option. Like your financial budget, your future will be determined by how wisely you choose to spend your allowance and by whether or not you choose to live within your means.
I am now having to pay for my years of excess. What I am doing now is the food equivalent of destroying my credit cards and getting my house in order. You can make the same choices, either through juicing, or sticking to a diet plan burns more calories than you provide and by increasing your activity level. This will force your body to tap into those fat stores, the storage system of latent energy, and you will lose pounds and inches.
Folks, I hope this info was helpful to you and will help you in choosing a lifestyle that you can maintain for the long haul. That is, after all the only way, to sustain weight loss. We must alter our plans and the course of our current trajectory if we want to arrive at a different location than where we are currently headed. At the end though, this is jsut information and until you process it, internalize it and use it to make life changing decisions, it is pointless.
Trust me, I know. I had all of this info when my weight inflated to 470 pounds. Knowldege alone is not enough; it must spur us to action. Knowing a storm is coming is one thing, caring enough to get out of the way or seek shelter is quite another.
Juice on; join the journey.