Dieting is a word that has become so weighed down with negative connotations, it’s almost as if we’re scared to say it. Instead, we whisper cautiously to people who have lost weight, “have you been on a diet?” – lowering our voice at the end of the sentence until we are just about mouthing the word. However, the answer is yes – anyone who has lost weight has been on a diet. Actively or passively they have been eating fewer calories and therefore managed to shed the pounds. Now, we are by no means saying that this is easy – far far from it.
Food can be comforting, warm and supportive and consuming less is by not effortless. But, changing your eating habits is the only way to lose weight. Because, dieting doesn’t really need to be a dirty word, really it is just based on a simple mathematical equation – Burn more calories than you are consuming.
We all have a BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) which is the number of calories our body requires to function. We then have to take into account our activity levels. Someone who has a desk job is using much less than someone who’s running around after a toddler all day.
So to work out how many calories your body is burning in a day, take your weight in kg and multiply it by 22 (or 24 for men). (I should add here there are loads of other ways to work out your BMR – Harris Benedict equation etc. but this is the quickest and easiest way and gives pretty accurate results.) Then, and here’s where you have a bit of artistic licence, you must take into account your activity levels. Multiply your BMR by 1.2 if you are pretty much inactive (no exercise and a sedentary job), 1.4 if you are quite active (1-3 days light exercise per week), 1.6 if you are moderately active (3-5 days of moderate exercise per week) and 1.8 if you are basically an athlete (6-7 days per of hard exercise per week). So, to turn this into real figures – you are a 65kg women running after a pretty active 2-year-old all day? 65 x 22 = 1430. 1430 x 1.4 = 2002. So, this means on a daily basis your body is burning 2002 worth of calories. To maintain your weight at 65kg you could eat 2002 worth of calories, however, if you want to lose weight you’d need to lower that figure. 1lb of fat = 3500 calories so if you would want to lose a 1lb of fat a week you would lower your calories to 1500 a day, ensuring a 500 calorie deficit.
Make sense so far?
Well, let me complicate matters further. Exercising also burns calories, so you could create a bigger deficit by basically moving more. A brisk walk can burn as much as 300-400 calories an hour, this way you could either put yourself in a bigger deficit and lose weight quickly or have a smaller deficit of calories with your food and just move more! Simple, eh?
Basically, there is your mathematical proof. Dieting really is just science. You may well hope there’s a sexier way to say it, but sadly to lose weight you have two options: eat much less, move much more or a balanced combination of both. And that’s what all these different diets have in common: from Atkins to Paleo to Weight Watchers to Slimming World – whichever one you choose they all ensure you have a calorie deficit. And the best diet? Is the one that works for you, that you enjoy and that works around your lifestyle.
Now, one of the best dieting tips that we have come across and one that we follow is flexible dieting. We find that often people fall off the wagon when their “cheat day” becomes extended or they have one binge and feel they may as well just give up. However, if you follow flexible dieting then you can simply modify your diet the next day. Take Shabbat for example – a day when we often overeat. Instead of feeling guilty or trying to deprive ourselves, we simply amend our calorie count on Sunday – eating low-calorie foods meaning we can enjoy Shabbat without piling on the pounds.
That’s really what successful dieting is, whether that’s keeping a food diary, using My Fitness Pal or having 2 days a week when you are painstakingly careful and the rest of the week being more careful is really the only guaranteed way to lose weight and keep it off.