This is going to get kind of scientific…I hope you are willing to keep reading it though, it is worth it if you are struggling to lose weight
BMR: basal metabolic rate
- the amount of energy expended (calories burned) at rest in 24 hours
- only enough energy for your organs to function….NOT enough to workout or even move much efficiently
- most accurate way to find this is after a 12-16 hour fast, not moving and being in a closed environment where your energy expended is measured by some expensive piece of equipment
- BUT, there are also “decent” BMR calculators online you can use to find an estimate
- important because you don’t want to be eating less than this number on a consistent basis (or ever really) because you risk slowing your metabolism, storing extra body fat (yes by eating less!!!) and just having extremely low energy levels
- there is some research that this number rises by gaining lean mass AKA muscle AKA resistance training…this is a good thing AKA not just using the elliptical or running
- it is proven this will lower by a combination of not exercising and underreatting for long periods of time…this is a bad thing
- it is proven this also lowers with age, but ways to slow down how fast this number lowers are staying active and not following restrictive eating patterns when you are young
TDEE: Total Daily Energy Expenditure
- the total calories your body will burn in a 24 hour period; essentially your BMR + calories burned sleeping, walking, working, exercising etc
- this will be (or should be) higher than your BMR
- the closer these get to each the more difficult it will be to lose weight and sustain it..AKA stay active and gain lean muscle mass to keep weight loss easier
- there are also “decent” calculators online you can use to estimate this number
- important because this is the number you either add or subtract calories from to lose or gain weight
- somewhere between your BMR and TDEE is a sweet spot of calories that will help you lose weight…or at least if your body is functioning properly with no hormonal imbalances, that is a different story
- as you raise your BMR via adding muscle, your TDEE will also naturally rise along with
Weight Set Point: “the weight your body is comfortable at and likes to stay at”
- your body always wants to be at equilibrium and this means being comfortable whether you are happy with your weight or not
- usually a range of 3-7lbs…you know those lbs that lose all week only to gain again on the weekend over and over
- these set points are hard to break, but not impossible
- the more you “diet” with excessive exercise and restrictive eating the harder it will be to break these set points so stop right now!!
- the best way to break these set points is, you guessed it, a slow and steady lifestyle change involving changing your habits and be very consistent with it
- the true holy grail of sustainable weight loss (or weight gain if you are skinny dude) is how to break these set points…the key to finding this holy grail is patience and consistency
What does this all mean? Well, I will use me as an example again because I can get very specific with my weight and how I do things because I know my body better than anyone else’s.
- Remember, I am usually doing things in an opposite manner of my weight loss clients. Instead of trying to lose 10-50lbs, I am trying to gain weight. But, I follow all the same principles I teach my clients in regards to consistent, sustainable nutrition. My habits are the same as my successful clients, I just have different goals.
- My set point of weight right now seems to be around 181-183lbs after my “diet down” phase this winter. This means I can keep doing what I am doing with no drastic or consistent changes to my nutrition and stay in this range. This is neither good nor bad because scale weight does not determine how I feel or how my mood is. It is simply a measure of progress. For me to change this either up or down I need to make some large and consistent changes.
- My next goal is raising my weight set point to 190lbs while keeping my body fat around the same. This will take me in my estimation 9-12 months to do, meaning I need to be patient and consistent. I could do this in 3 months, but gain a bunch of unwanted body fat. Not what I want. So, my large and consistent change is adding 500-700 calories to most days, consistently for 9-12 months. This doesn’t mean once and awhile or 2 days per week, it means almost every day of the week or I won’t see a change.
**Important note here, patience means you must enjoy the process of changing your body. Find exercise you like to do! If you dread your next Extreme Cardio Bootcamp class you probably won’t keep going, thus not staying consistent, thus not seeing progress.
Here is an estimation of my BMR and TDEE and how I will go about raising my weight set point. Think of this in the reverse manner if you are trying to shed some lbs. All the same principles and habits apply to you.
BMR: ~1700-1800 calories (eat this everyday I lose weight right now and really hate life)
TDEE: ~3000-3100 calories (eat this everyday and I maintain my weight)
Current Caloric Intake: ~3500 calories on resistance training days (5 days/week)
~2700 calories on rest or cardio days (2 days/week)
**Notice I am not eating 5000 calories/day as this is too extreme and my body fat would begin to go up too fast. Same thing as you are losing weight, avoid “crash dieting” as you will lose weight initially, but your body will adapt and BMR will lower much too fast AKA making it harder to keep losing weight.
This next point is soooooo important. I have found this worked extremely well for me as I “dieted down” this winter and it has worked well for my patient clients as well.
I am eating the above calories for 3 weeks at a time. In the 4th week I will eat at my “maintenance” or TDEE level calories for a week to let my body adjust to any weight gain. This will also help keep my weight gain slow, keeping body fat gain to a minimum. Again, this works amazing for weight loss as you want your body to lose some weight (most research says no more than 10% of your goal at a time) then just kind of hang out at “maintenance” calories for awhile (1 week to as much as 12 weeks ) as your body gets used to your new weight.
- Example: If you want to lose say 40lbs and maintain it, you should look to lose 4lbs in a 2-4 week window. Then hang out there for 1-2 weeks eating a bit more food, but not enough to gain weight. Then go back to calorie deficit. And continue this pattern, hopefully while resistance training and gaining some muscle to improve your metabolism. If you stall out be patient maybe try a period of 6-8 weeks of “maintenance” calories to allow your body to adjust to its new weight.
- ***If you have 150lbs to lose more rapid weight loss is definitely OK though and I would recommend it. But, the faster you lose the weight the longer you should stay in a period of “maintenance” allowing your body to adapt to your new weight. Periods of 6-12 weeks are better if you have lost 50+ lbs.
As my weight increases my “maintenance” calories will also increase slowly. So, as I eat ~3000 calories/day every 4 weeks, in 6 months I might be eating ~3300 calories on these weeks.
Slightly different as you lose weight, if you do it in a sustainable manner. If you are losing weight while also resistance training AKA gaining muscle then your maintenance calories and BMR will not lower as fast. This is good because you can eat more than someone who crash diets and only eats 1000 calories/day.
Person A loses 50lbs over 4 months via caloric restriction and no exercise. Their initial BMR is 1500 calories and TDEE is 2000 calories. Eating between 1500-2000 calories will result in weight loss, but they WANT MORE RIGHT NOW!! Now, their BMR is 1200 calories and their TDEE is 1300 calories AKA metabolic slow down. Remember that “window” between BMR and TDEE that is needed for sustainable weight loss? Well, that window has been narrowed down to 100 calories, making weight loss going forward very frustrating for this person. Now to lose weight (assuming their hormones aren’t all messed up from caloric restriction) this person MUST eat in a 1200-1300 calorie window, that will take some very serious macro tracking! So, a day of 2500 calories on the weekend can result in gaining 2lbs Monday morning. Sound familiar?
Person B loses 50lbs via lifestyle change habits over 16 months. Person B resistance trains, gains muscle, can eat more and is patient. Their initial BMR is 1500 calories and TDEE is 2000 calories. Person B decides to lose 10lbs at a time over 2 month periods eating roughly 1600-1800 calories/day. Then maintain that new weight set point for 4 weeks before starting a caloric deficit for 10lbs over 2 months. Now, at the end of 14 months Person B has a BMR of 1600 calories and TDEE of 2100 calories. How did this happen?? Their gain in muscle improved metabolism raising BMR and TDEE slightly. It will never be a huge increase, but that “window” between BMR and TDEE is still 500 calories and that is what matters most. Plenty of room to take away 250 calories/day 7 days per week if they still want to lose more weight. Person A can’t take away 250 calories or they will be below BMR, further sabotaging a nonexistent metabolism. Now Person B can eat 2500 calories on a weekend day and not go up 2lbs come Monday morning. This is the holy grail I was talking about.
My goal is to follow the plan Person B did, but in reverse. Why am I bulking? I like to eat, a lot. And I want to eat more But, even if you are losing weight you can still eat the foods you want to eat, you just have go about your journey slower and be patient. Oh, and consistent.
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