There was a study conducted among 439 50-75year olds who were split into four groups.  Here are the results:
1. Exercise only 45 minutes at a moderate to high intensity five days a week- average loss of 2.4% of body weight
2. Diet only of 1200-2000 calories depending on starting weight- average loss of 8.5% body weight
3. Combination of exercise and diet- average loss of 10.8% body weight
4. No intervention- on average lost less than a pound making the statistics insignificant

Exercise is very important to your health, but unfortunately doesn’t promote the most change to the scale.  It is a lot easier to consume two slices of pizza then it is to go run an hour to burn them off!  Your diet is going to change the number on the scale!  Your workouts are going to give you shape!  Combining diet and exercise is going to make your body look and work amazingly!

This law states that when energy is consumed (measured in kilocalories) it must be expended or else stored as fat.   If you are gaining weight you are eating more than you are burning… no if’s ands or buts about it!  If you are losing weight you are burning more calories than you are consuming, and if you are maintaining your weight you are consuming as many calories as you use every day.  Does this mean that you can eat 1500 calories of brownies and still lose weight?  Yes!  But should you?  Absolutely not!  Dominique Adair, MS, RD explained it this way in an article titled Are All Calories Created Equal in Weight Loss?: “If all of a sudden you have a drop in income, you are going to make sure that you’re essentials (rent, car payment, health insurance, etc.) are covered, before non-necessities are purchased. Likewise, with a restricted food budget, the essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals, as well as necessary carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) must be provided before the energy budget can accommodate discretionary Kcalories. “

To find out how many calories you should be consuming you first need to find your resting metabolic rate, which is the least amount of calories your body needs at rest to maintain its normal metabolic functions.  There are several equations and websites that you can go to get an estimation of this number.   I personally am a fan of the harris-benedict equation, but again it is just an estimate.  If the number on the scale isn’t changing the way you want it to, you need to appropriately adjust your intake of calories.  Here is the harris-benedict equation:

Men BMR = 66.5 + ( 13.75 x weight in kg ) + ( 5.003 x height in cm ) – ( 6.755 x age in years )

Men BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.76 x age in years )

Women BMR = 655.1 + ( 9.563 x weight in kg ) + ( 1.850 x height in cm ) – ( 4.676 x age in years )

Women BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )

*To find your weight in kg divide your weight in pounds by 2.2.
*To find your height in cm multiply your height in inches by 2.54

Once you get your result from the equation above multiply it to the number below that best describes you. 

Little to no exercise Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.2 Light exercise (1–3 days per week) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.375 Moderate exercise (3–5 days per week) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.55 Heavy exercise (6–7 days per week) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.725 Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.9

This leaves you with the total amount of calories your body needs on a daily basis to maintain it’s current weight.  Note that there are 3500 calories in a pound of fat.  To lose 1lb a week subtract 500 calories from your total caloric intake.   Keep in mind that your caloric deficit should not be lower than your resting metabolic rate (the first number you got), and also that losing more than two pounds a week usually results in 25% of your weight loss coming from your lean muscle mass.  Your muscle is your metabolism and you don’t want to decrease it!  If your goal is to increase lean muscle mass add an additional 500 calories each day.


Pay attention to nutrient density.  This refers to the most amount of nutrients per calories and is opposite of energy-dense “empty calorie” foods which supply little nutrition per calorie.  Think about it:  what’s going to make you more satisfied- a sandwich or a chocolate bar?  They are both similar in calories…  Foods that are nutrient dense also tend to be heavier in weight than energy-dense foods, leaving you with more satiety (ex. an actual apple compared to a caramel apple pop sucker). 

Track your food. Studies have shown again and again that those who consistently track what they eat are more likely TO be successful with weight loss and maintenance. There are many reasons for this including being aware of what your consuming (most of us underestimate what we are eating by about 20-30%), being held accountable for what you are eating (especially if you hire me!),  and sometimes just being aware of what is triggering us to eat certain things so that we can make an attack-plan to not continually  give in.

Did you know that the average adult gains one to three pounds each year?  That equals out to only 20 to 30 calories a day!  What are you doing to not become the statistic this year?

Remember that exercise is only part of the equation in a healthy, happy you.  Without a change in your diet, you are not going to see the results you want!  More information of healthy eating will be coming in the following weeks.