Understanding some basics:
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) represents the number of calories your body requires in order to survive, performing its normal daily organ functions. These include beating the heart, liver function, breathing, kidney function, etc. This is the daily energy requirement, at rest. This is the most dominant factor when it comes to calculating how much food you should be consuming.
Once you start moving, that energy requirement goes up. This is known as your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). There are a few factors that contribute to your TDEE:
Structured Activity – Calories burned during a structured training routine such as functional training, strength training etc.
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) – Calories burned during incidental movement such as sneezing, walking, talking with your hands, fidgeting, typing, laughing, that sort of thing. The easiest way to increase your NEAT and therefore your energy expenditure, is to increase your daily steps level. For sedentary to low activite people (office workers), this would be 10,000 steps per day. For active people (working in an active environment such as nurses, PTs, tradespeople etc) it would be 12,000+ steps per day.
Thermogenic Effect of Food (TEF) – is the energy required in order for your body to digest and process food. Certain food requires more energy to digest than others; for example, a steak will use more energy during digestion that say a slice of bread. So you will burn more eating a steak than bread. To increase energy expenditure, choose food that has a higher TEF, food that is rich in protein and good fats.
Calculating your TDEE:
In order to lose weight and fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit. In other words, you need to be consuming less than you are burning, or burning more than you are consuming, or a combination of both.
If you are consuming around the same amount of calories as your TDEE you are in what is known as Energy Balance. This means your weight will not change. You will stay the same.
If you are consuming more calories than you are burning you are in Energy Surplus and so will gain weight.
If you are consuming less calories than you are burning you are in Energy Deficit so will lose weight.
How to get the most out of your Calorie Deficit:
- The cleaner your food choices are the less inflamed your body will be. Processed food, trans-fats, high sugar food and beverages, alcohol, and food that you are allergic or intolerant to, increases inflammation in the body. When the body is inflamed its priority is to reduce inflammation. Inflammation causes water retention, storage of toxins, reduced lymphatic drainage and increased glucose secretion into the blood stream. This all contributes to weight gain, despite your energy expenditure. Other factors that contribute to inflammation include lack of good quality sleep, tobacco, medication, drugs, insufficient hydration, and stress.
- Adhere to a minimum daily step completion
- Opt for food that have a high TEF
- Exercise. Not only does exercise increase your daily energy expenditure it also ensures that your weight loss comes from fat loss, not lost muscle mass.
- Select a training routine that increases muscle mass whilst increasing your heart rate. Ideal choices are things such as strength training, functional training, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), LIIS (Low Intensity Interval Training), Yoga, Pilates, Thai Chi, to name a few. The greater your muscle mass the more energy your body burns. Cardio training reduces muscle mass so you have to work harder to burn the same amount of energy.
- Get plenty of good quality sleep
- Cut out tobacco and drug use
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Drink plenty of water
- Manage stress levels
Your body loves homeostasis. Homeostasis is when the cells in your body are working in perfect equilibrium or balance. Your cells don’t like to have too much or too little of anything, so your body is very good and realigning things to ensure that balance is upheld. This is why you hit plateaus. Your body achieves homeostasis. So to keep your progress going, you need to keep your body changing.
Think of it this way; your household survives on a certain level of income. You have a certain amount of expenses that need to be met. If you earn more than your expenses, you can save money (energy surplus). If you have just the right amount of income coming in to meet your expenses it is the same as your body’s energy balance. If you earn less than your expenses than you are in a deficit and you need to work out how you are going to pay all of your bills with the limited money you have. Your body works the same way; when it is in deficit it will shift things around to ensure that it comes back to balance. With your budget you might cut out buying coffee out, going to the movies, or cancel basketball training to reduce your expenses so that you are back to balance. So too your body will reduce unnecessary expenses. It may reduce your metabolism and therefore reduce your TEF so that it doesn’t burn as much energy. It may reduce your sex drive, you may start to feel more lethargic and develop a CBF attitude. All of this reduces energy expenditure so that your body returns to homeostasis or energy balance.
To avoid this from happening, you need to give your body a bonus every now and then, otherwise known as a refeed or diet break (I will use the term ‘refeed’). How frequently will depend on your size. The larger your are, the longer it will take for your body to plateau or hit homeostasis. The smaller you are the more efficient your body is and so the faster your will plateau or hit homeostasis. To refeed your body you increase your food for 2 days back to energy balance calories. This is usually done with complex carbohydrates to help your endocrine system balance your hormones and maintain efficient Thyroid function. Here is a rough guide on how frequently to refeed:
- If you have less than 5kg to lose than refeed will be required approximately every 2-3 weeks
- If you have between 5-10kg to lose than refeed will be required approximately every 4-6 weeks
- If you have over 10kg to lose then refeed will be required approximately every 6-12 weeks
- If you have over 20kg to lose then refeed will be required approximately every 12 weeks
The best way to tell is by tracking your weight and identifying a plateau. As soon as you hit a plateau, refeed. This is of course providing you are in fact in an energy deficit and not in energy balance.
You can’t manage what you don’t measure or track:
The fact is, in order for any of the above to actually work, you need to track your calories. You can’t just guess how much you are eating. And when I say track your calories I mean every single little thing that you consume, whether it be liquid or solid. Every lick, sip, bite, snack, everything. You can track your daily calories using apps such as My Fitness Pal, Fitbit, Food Educate. Just Google ‘daily calorie tracking app’ and a stack will come up for you.
If you are not someone who cannot adhere to tracking, you can book Nutrition Coaching with one of our coaches who will help create a meal plan specifically for you taking your TDEE into account. To book Nutrition Coaching or for more information on Nutrition Coaching contact us.
Got a question or need help getting started? Don’t hesitate to contact us.
And don’t forget to join the Terrific Fitness Facebook Community Support Group so we can help support you throughout your journey, and you can interact with other like minded legends!
That’s it from me for now.
Til next time, train hard, eat well and hug someone you love!