When people set a goal to lose weight, the first thing they aim to change is their diet. They set out to eat as few calories as they can and rid their house of all carbohydrates. That is a recipe for disaster! Neither of those plans will make for long-term weight loss and maintenance.
I overheard a gentleman at my gym say, “If you want to get a tiny waist you don’t take a pill. There’s only one thing you can do: not eat. Or, you can stop eating carbs.” I had to bite my tongue to the point of pain to keep from correcting him. When preparing for my last figure competition, I ate at least 2,000 calories per day – including a ton of carbs.
I will touch on these faulty ways of thinking and correct your perception of calories and the reputation of carbs
First, let’s tackle the idea of calorie restriction. It takes 3,500 calories to equal one pound. That means to lose a pound, you must burn 3,500 calories more than you consume. This can easily be done with a healthy diet and exercise however you don’t want to drop your calories too low. If your calories drop too low, your metabolism slows down and your body transitions into starvation mode. When this happens, your body holds on to every little calorie it gets, making it very difficult to lose weight and very easy to gain – even at a calorie deficit.
You need to find your basal metabolic rate, also known as a BMR (the minimum number of calories you burn a day if you were to rest the entire day). This will help when you add calories consumed versus calories burned. But, you need to remember that you burn more in daily activities when you exercise. There are great online calculators that can give you a good estimate. A good rule of thumb is to keep your calorie consumption above 1,200 a day minimum.
Please note that these calories need to be consumed over 5-7 meals a day, every 2 ½ to 3 hours. The reason for this is that your metabolism is boosted when you consume several small meals over the course of the day. A good analogy would be a campfire. When you start a fire and feed it a little kindling over the course of the day it burns constantly and it burns hot. However, when you only eat a few meals a day it’s like starting a fire and leaving it there to burn out.
Next, let’s discuss carbohydrates. Once eaten, carbohydrates are converted and used for energy. However, and this is a big however, it depends on the type of carbohydrate you eat. There are two types of carbohydrates: simple (fast acting) and complex (slow digesting). Complex carbs such as oatmeal, brown rice, and sweet potatoes are best and can actually aid in weight loss. Simple carbs like candy, enriched breads and rice, and sodas are the carbs that restrict weight loss. You really want to avoid simple carbohydrates as much as possible. The times you eat carbs also affect your weight loss. If you eat carbs late at night and have no type of physical activity, those carbodydrates will be stored in fat cells once digested.
Hopefully this information will assist you in your weight loss journey.
- keep the calories above 1,200
- eat 5-7 small meals a day
- choose complex carbohydrates over simple
- taper your carbohydrate consumption as the day goes on