How to get in shape – 3 styles to consider: Weight Loss

weight loss

This article is part 3 in a 4 part series. In part 1, I wrote about the 3 styles people should consider when deciding how to get in shape. Part 2 dove into what it means to put all your focus on muscle and weight gainIn this article, I will be going into greater detail about what it means to completely focus on weight loss. I will talk about the pros, cons, and what you should focus on instead. 

According to the CDC, obesity rate of adults in America is just over 35%. There are 314 million people living in America (74 million of which are under the age of 18). Do some quick math, and there’s an astounding 85,000,000 adults classified as obese.

With such a high number, losing weight has become a hot topic these days. Losing weight has many great benefits, but is there a possibility for too much of a good thing? There’s an endless supply of articles, photos, videos, and programs aimed at helping people shed a few pounds, but none of them offer any education. It’s a great idea to go into weight loss with some knowledge.

Being overweight certainly comes with a number of health-issues, but so does being too thin.

3 things to keep in mind when it comes to trying to lose weight:

  • How fast is too fast for weight loss?
  • Whats causing the weight loss?
  • The health risks associated with losing too much weight.

How fast is too fast for weight loss?

When it comes to losing weight, 1-2 pounds of weight loss is considered healthy and sustainable. On paper, one pound of body fat in the human body is equal to 3,500 calories. Theoretically then, if you eat 500 less calories than you burn a day, you will lose one pound in a week (-500 calories a day X 7 days a week = -3,500 calories a week). In the same regard, if you eat 1,000 less calories than you burn a day, you will lose 3 pounds in a week (-1,000 X 7 days a week = -7,000 calories a week). Losing exactly one or two pounds a week doesn’t play out quite as neatly in real life. It does, however, give a nice guideline to how much weight you can realistically lose while staying healthy.

If someone loses weight rapidly, it’s due to other things in addition to losing fat. Any faster than losing 2 pounds a week and it involves a combination of losing water weight, losing muscle, and the bodies metabolism slowing down.

What’s causing the weight loss?

  1. Losing water weight

    About 60% of our body weight is composed of water. When someone goes on a highly restrictive diet, the body turns to it’s own stored energy, because it’s not getting enough energy from the foods eaten day to day. The stored energy holds water with it and that water is burned up quickly when switching to a restrictive diet.

    A more scientific explanation:One type of stored energy the body turns to is a carbohydrate called glycogen. When the body uses glycogen for energy, the glycogen also releases the water stored in it. There is 4 grams of water accompanying every 1 gram of glycogen. (Read Here). When weight loss is rapid, a significant amount of it is due to this water being released.

  2. Losing muscle

    The more restrictive a diet is, the more the body has to rely on other sources of energy such as the glycogen talked about in the last paragraph. Another place the body turns to when looking for energy is the muscle itself. When the body starts to run low on available energy (glycogen), it turns to the protein in the muscles themselves. Losing muscle instead of the fat is never a good thing. Losing muscle usually leads to false hope on the scales because it’s not actually fat being lost.

  3. Metabolism slowing down

    Highly restrictive diets involve eating a lot less food than normal. When the body is deprived of the amount of food it normally gets, it slows down its metabolism. A slowing metabolism speeds up weight loss but isn’t sustainable, because the metabolism will bounce right back after the restrictive diet is over.

The health risks associated with too much weight loss

Too much fat in the body has lots of bad symptoms, but not having enough isn’t any better. A few things that end up happening when someone is too skinny are heart issues, a lowered immune system, anemia, and fertility issues.(Check Here).

Getting too skinny puts a lot of unhealthy strain on the body, so be careful!

Check back next for the final post in this series!

-Adam

How to get in shape – 3 styles to consider: Muscle and weight gain

Body builder

Last time, I wrote about the 3 styles people should consider when deciding how to get in shape. This article is part 2 in a 4 part series. In this article, I will be going into greater detail about what it means to completely focus on muscle and weight gain. I will talk about the pros, cons, and what you should focus on instead.

Quick Disclaimer: If this style of getting in shape is your true passion, then that’s awesome. I have nothing against it. I simply believe there’s a much healthier and sustainable way to get and stay in shape.

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Research is the first step people typically take when deciding how to get in shape. Whether the internet or magazines are used for research, seeing pictures of huge body builders is inevitable.

It’s easy to see pictures of these people and conclude that’s the ideal physique to shoot for. The reality is that rarely is a physique like that healthy or sustainable. Many body builders put their bodies through an immense amount of strain that can have long-lasting effects.

 The only 2 instances where it makes to focus on muscle and weight gain

There are really only two instances where it’s beneficial to put complete focus on muscle and weight gain.

  1. Training for a sport or competition that requires it.

    Example 1: Football coach tells linemen they need to put on significant muscle and weight to be competitive.
    Example 2: Some variation of a body building competition where size and “bigness” of muscles matter.

  2. Muscle and weight needs to be put on to get healthy. In this case, the person may have been told by a health professional that they’re extremely underweight and are risking permanent damage as a result.

That’s it.

I wish I was the guy to tell you how to safely and effectively accomplish those 2 things. The truth is, I’m not. I’m not that guy partly because I believe there’s not much point in living solely for muscle and weight gain, and partly because I’ve never had a need to.

Risks unique to this style

There’s risks with everything in life. Even if you lock yourself in a padded room so you never get hurt, you run the risk of mental illness. However, focusing completely on muscle and weight gain has a few unique risks to be aware of

The Risks

  • The first and most obvious risk is any performance enhancing supplement that does lasting damage to the body. The pressures of always trying to gain more muscle sometimes pushes people to use supplements that aren’t the best for them long-term.

  • The second risk is the eating aspect of this style. Focusing on muscle and weight gain requires eating a lot of food. There’s no way to avoid that. The risk isn’t eating a lot of food. The risk here is that many people use this as an excuse to eat a lot of bad food. All that bad food does more damage internally than simply adding a few pounds.

  • The last risk is the strain that extra weight puts on the body. The body doesn’t care that the extra weight is muscle. All the body knows is that it’s joints are now experiencing more stress.

What should I focus on instead?

I will be posting an article about this in a week, but the short answer is that you should focus on a mix between muscle gain and weight loss. Complete focus on muscle and weight gain is one extreme. The other extreme is losing weight at all costs, which will be talked about next. Somewhere between those two is where the ideal style of getting in shape is

Stick around for the next article about losing weight at all costs!

-Adam

Simple Guide to Calories

The feared nutrition facts label (a.k.a. gibberish)

The feared nutrition facts label (a.k.a. gibberish)

Learning about nutrition is a tricky thing that people tend to sweep under the rug. It’s confusing, complicated, and impossible to master 100%. In an effort to educate people by starting simply, this is an intro to the absolute basics of nutrition. There is much, much more to learn and will be covered in more detail later on. Here are the questions that will be answered today.

The Questions
What exactly are calories and what do they do?
What determines how many calories I need per day?
How many calories do I actually need per day?
Where are calories actually found?

 

What exactly are calories and what do they do?

Calories are energy. They provide our body with the fuel it needs to keep running. As our body uses calories to perform actions, it gives off heat, much like a car. When a car is started, gas is used to run the engine, and in turn, heat is created. Giving off heat is what’s commonly referred to as “burning calories.” The body at rest burns a certain number of calories specific to each individual, while exercise burns off even more of them. Similarly to a car using gas to power the engine, our body uses fuel (a.k.a. calories) to do everything from powering our heart, to running a marathon, and everything else in between.

While calories are needed to sustain life, more calories doesn’t equal more life unfortunately. Knowing the relationship between calories and a healthy body is the first step in getting healthier.

Simply put, when the body gets exactly the amount of calories used in a day, it neither gains nor loses any fat. When the body gets more calories than it uses in a day, the excess is stored as fat. When the body gets less calories than it uses in a day, it uses the fat that was stored earlier to make up for that deficit.

The relationship between calories and fat is a tricky one, but the easiest explanation to understand is that a pound of fat in the human body is equivalent to 3,500 calories. Based off this number, when someone consumes 3,500 more calories than is used through any number of days, the body stores a pound of fat. Visa versa, when someone consumes 3,500 less calories than is used through any number of days, the body loses a pound of fat.

 

What determines how many calories are needed per day?

How many calories are needed in a day is completely different for each person, but at it’s simplest level, it’s made up of two different parts:

  1. The first part is the basal metabolic rate (BMR). BMR is the absolute minimum amount of calories needed. We’re talking how many calories would be used when lying in bed for 24 hours without moving a muscle. BMR is the minimum amount of calories it would take to run all organs necessary for survival in that situation. BMR is influenced by factors such as age, weight, gender, and genetics.
  2. The second part of the equation is any action done in addition to simply lying in bed for 24 hours. This action can be anything from watching TV, to vigorous exercise. This part is more easily controlled and is where we have the biggest opportunity to improve our health.

Example: Spending all day watching TV while making frequent trips to the fridge and bathroom will increase the amount of calories you burn over your BMR but it’s a tiny increase compared to other things you could do. In this example, the use of your legs while walking around in addition to using your arm and fingers to use the remote slightly increases the amount of calories your body uses. In contrast, exercising and being active greatly increases the amount of calories one burns on top of your BMR

 

How many calories do I actually need per day?

Figuring out the exact number of calories needed per day can cause a headache. There are multiple formulas, equations, and tables to help figure it out. Constant research and debating over which one is the most correct can lead to an overwhelming feeling followed by giving up altogether. In an effort to avoid that pitfall, I found a calculator I liked and simply went with it.

Here’s the one I use: http://www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator.htm
If you don’t like using this calculator, that’s fine by me. Just find a different one and go with it!

The only way to get an exact number of how many calories needed per day requires visits to medical professionals specializing in the field. In addition to the enormous cost of that, caloric need changes quite often which makes those professional consultations time consuming and expenses. Using any online calorie calculator is going to give a rough estimate of what you should be consuming, which is good enough to get started.

The best way to determine if the numbers the calorie calculator are giving you is correct is by listening to your body. Are you putting on more weight or are you losing it? Do you feel so deprived all day that you have no energy or are you so stuffed you can barely move?

Paying attention to signals your body gives you is the key to succeeding.

 

Where are calories actually found?

Calories are a sort of nebulous idea but where are they actually found?
While calories are found in other a few other sources, the most common source of calories is found in Fats, Carbohydrates, and Protein. There’s a vast amount of different options within each of the three categories, but at its most basic level, we get the majority of our calories from fats, carbohydrates, and protein.

These three categories make up what is known as macronutrients. I will be doing a follow-up post on each of these macronutrients, but to wrap up this post, here is how each one relates to calories:

  • Each gram of fat is equal to 9 calories
  • Each gram of carbohydrates is equal to 4 calories
  • Each gram of protein is equal to 4 calories

This information is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to nutrition. I will be going into more detail on every aspect of nutrition in the future so check back!

Thanks for reading!
-Adam Conway

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