Weight Loss Essentials 2 - The 3 Rules of Weight Loss

Published: 23rd April 2010
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To lose weight and keep it off forever there are three rules you must follow. Don't be put off by this though. They don't relate to specific diets, foods or exercises. There are many lifestyle changes that lead to weight loss, but they must follow the rules or they simply won't work.

The 1st Rule of Weight Loss

The 1st Rule is that you must create a calorie deficit to lose weight. Calories are the body's source of energy. Body fat is simply a store of calories. When you burn more calories than you eat, your body burns body fat to make up the shortfall.

1lb (0.45kg) of body fat equals 3500 calories. So an average daily calorie deficit of 500 will result in a loss of 1lb of fat a week. As you can see weight loss is not a complicated process - eat fewer calories than you burn and you will lose weight.

The 2nd Rule of Weight Loss

The 2nd Rule of Weight Loss is that to create a calorie deficit you must implement lifestyle changes. Sorry, but there is no "miracle cure" for weight loss. There might be one in the future but for now just stop searching for it because it doesn't exist.

This Rule means changing your diet and the amount of physical activity you do. You can eat fewer calories, burn more calories, or a do combination of those two. Achieving a calorie deficit does not mean you have to eat a specific number of calories or do a certain amount of exercise. Rather, it relates to your starting point.

Remember that a daily 500 calorie deficit results in a loss of 1lb of body fat per week. A 1000 calorie deficit results in a 2lb a week loss, which is generally given as the upper limit of safe fat loss. When you factor in body fluid changes as well the actual amount of weight loss can be more than 2lb a week.

Now you may be thinking "Hey, why not create a 2000, 5000, even 10000 calorie deficit and lose the weight in no time!" Sorry, but creating a huge calorie deficit to lose weight quickly is counter-productive. Your body senses a famine and enters "starvation mode". Your metabolism slows down and you don't burn as many calories or as much fat as you want. If you try to do it by exercising excessively you will just wear yourself out.

Relativity and Minimalism are Vital

So a deficit of 500-1000 calories is a good goal. But you must understand that the idea of a "deficit" means you should base it on what you are doing now. This is the concept of Relativity. For example, if you are overweight and eating 2000 calories a day you can drop it to 1500 calories and have a 500 calorie deficit relative to what you had before. If you are eating 5000 calories, you only need to drop to 4500 a day to create the deficit relative to your starting point.

Most diets give a specific number of calories to eat, usually something like 1500 a day. If this is a big drop relative to your starting point your body enters the previously mentioned "starvation mode". Big deficits are also hard to cope with from a behavioral and psychological point of view. They are a drastic change from your previous lifestyle and often result in a quick return to the old fattening habits. So while a deficit is necessary bigger isn't necessarily better.

This is where the concept of Minimalism is important. You should do the minimum amount possible to create the deficit. Not because it is the easy way out, but because it is less physically and mentally demanding and more likely to result in long term lifestyle changes.

It also gives you scope for future improvements. If you make a drastic change and you stop losing weight before you reach your goal you have no room left for further lifestyle changes. If you do the minimum amount possible in the beginning you give yourself the chance of making more changes if necessary.

The 3rd Rule of Weight Loss

The 3rd Rule is that you must follow the lifestyle changes for as long as you want to keep the weight off. This is probably forever so you must make lifelong improvements to your lifestyle.

Weight loss is a process, not an event. Once you lose weight the task is not over, you have to keep doing what you are doing to maintain that weight loss. You can't diet for a while then go back to your old habits. If you do this you will regain weight. This is the mistake most people make, even if they don't do it consciously.

The problem is that you won't make a lifelong change if you are forcing yourself to follow a diet or weight loss plan that you don't enjoy. If it is a burden you will just give up. So to lose weight you have to make lifestyle improvements to create a calorie deficit, but to keep it off those lifestyle improvements have to be Easy, Effective and Enjoyable.

Following the Rules

Now, you may be thinking that there is no weight loss plan that suits your preferences and needs. If this was the case you would be doomed to either stay overweight or live a miserable life forcing yourself to diet strictly and exercise vigorously. But weight loss is not about following a supposedly perfect plan.

Weight loss is simply about improving certain parts of your lifestyle. All you need to know is what those lifestyle components are and the many, many options for improving them. Then you can create or choose a new way of life that suits you and keep the weight off forever.

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