So here is something you likely don’t know about weight loss, right out the gate everyone is guessing (including us, that changes but read more below) so most people guess low and sometimes very low, so that’s where this will start:
1. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Total Daily Energy Expenditure or TDEE it’s basically the scientific value on how many calories you should eat based on a few factors like activity. Virtually every calculator online is wrong and the information is often misinterpreted. Let me give you an example of what I mean, often the calculator will ask you how much weight you are looking to lose and since no one picks the slowest and longest route I will use the example of three pounds. So let’s say someone wants to lose 20 pounds in 7 weeks and they type in 3 pounds a week (very common). Even if they don’t exercise much TDEE is often higher than most people think (TDEE is basically the amount of calories your body would prefer eating when you are eating normal, it’s probably closest on the high side when not dieting but not very close in the deficit, keep reading). So let’s say the calculation behind the scenes is 2400 for a woman that is moderately active and works out 3 times a week. The calculator then subtracts 1500 (3500 kcal’s a week times 3 which breaks down to 1500 kcal’s a day deficit) from the 2400 number behind the scenes and spits out a number of 900 calories and off the person goes eating 900 calories.
So the question is how does the calculator know you were eating 2400 calories if that’s what the calculation is based on, the answer is it doesn’t. So let’s say that you ate pretty conscious and went to the gym 3 times a week but weren’t all that conscious of steps or even worse was TOO conscious of steps. You skip breakfast, have a salad for lunch and a reasonable dinner with some snacking. Let’s call that 1400 calories (very common) let’s even bump that average up to 1600 because of date night and weekends. Then the calculation is wrong from above. The number you would need to eat is actually 100 calories a day to get to a 1500 calorie deficit (from the 1600 you are actually eating).
That’s correct, my math isn’t wrong, 1600 calories with a 1500 calorie deficit equals a paltry 100 calories a day which in case you don’t know isn’t really survivable long term. And let’s be honest, if you are a woman reading this you know I am probably not too far off on the 1600 calories, 2400 would be VERY rare and that’s ultimately what the calculator is using to create your deficit.
So right there, right out the gate you are setting yourself up for failure because your wants don’t align with data and that information isn’t always clear. For many services that use calculators this is on purpose, they are aware that you will come away frustrated and they re-market to you to show you how to really make it work (which in a lot of cases ends up being starvation cheerleading that they call coaching and typically it’s VERY expensive).
The answer is that they misinformed you from the start. We used to have a calculator and disabled it because people’s wants didn’t typically align with the data they were getting and the result was often confusing and in the wrong hands could be harmful.
2. Not guessing is a lot better
There are a handful of programs that work like us but nothing in a meaningful way and they often tend to be much more expensive than we are as a service. Basically what you do is you start with an aggressive baseline (I will talk more about this in the third item), for most people that start with a weight loss/fat loss service they often come to us over consuming food and under performing as it relates to activity. So an aggressive baseline where you are more aware of low hanging fruit like steps can get a lot of progress. I am sorry for all of the examples but I feel like it’s important for you to understand the specifics of how true and lasting weight loss works:
I am going to stick with the same example above for consistency and rather than eating 100 calories we will start with a baseline of 1400 calories (a 200 calorie deficit) and then we will also add some resistance training (body weight workouts are fine) and then being more conscious of steps. Ultimately with those additions we can normally get to about a 700 calorie deficit or roughly 1.33 pounds a week.
Do you see how that is more reasonable? Now let’s get to the fun part.
There is a lot that goes into our coaching but this is what ultimately makes us infinitely better than anyone else out there.
We don’t need to guess.
If you have ever plateaued dieting and ultimately quit out of frustration I just explained to you WHY so you might need to re-read that part but here is the good stuff. Once again I will save this to step three but we can easily get someone 20 pounds of loss in 20 weeks with relative ease, those same people often quit by week 3 with online calculator recommendations and often walk away with a sense that they failed, when in fact they were set up for failure. So what happens once the 20 pounds is gone?
More often than not people find that 20 pounds or whatever they thought they need to lose doesn’t quite get them the physique they want. Once you get close to an optimal physique it’s hard to not want to go the rest of the way, so here is how we do it and why you see so many great transformations from our page.
Once we reach your goal we teach you how to keep it off, this is actually the most important step of dieting that baffles folks.
Most people believe they keep failing at the dieting part when in reality they are failing at the NOT DIETING part. So that’s the important phase that once again gives you REAL data where you can draw REAL conclusions.
As we normalize your calories higher and keep you weight stable within a few pounds (weight will fluctuate and this is good, it is the sign of a healthy metabolism). Weight loss should not be a consistent down number and most of us kind of already know this, it’s the reason why we all hate scales, we want to read that number each day and we want it to go down.
The reality is that it should almost look like steps or a wave down and if you know this I think it helps with the anxiety related to the scale.
Lastly on that point don’t let the numbers do the work, in the next part I will talk about how the numbers need to change but let me be clear YOU HAVE A LOT OF POWER in the progress that you make. That’s one of the reasons why doing it a bit slower will help.
3. Your body wants to find balance, we do two things to offset this want but let me be SUPER clear about this, your body will win this fight for balance (scientifically it’s called Homeostasis). So even at the start, even with our first initial baseline that we work off of (we luckily have the benefit of having worked with over 250,000 people) the numbers need to move down. This is why we don’t just start you at the lowest number possible because we want to maximize the progress at EACH level.
Here is the good news, the balance I talked about also works as you go up to normalize calories for either a second run or just staying in roughly the same spot for as long as possible. So food not only won’t be the enemy it does one super important thing that gets you fat loss over time.
With more food comes more muscle and in case you didn’t know, muscle is not fat.
In fact, even when you are first starting off the specifics matter a lot and the weight loss at all costs people often blow through a lot of muscle and not fat which often gives them this washed out look (some people call it skinny fat, I don’t love that term but it does describe losing muscle and not fat well). So often in losing the 20 pounds above people will retain much more muscle than they would have with a non-specific “all-in” approach, so they not only get leaner they look a lot leaner.
Lastly there is a lot of talk in the health and wellness community about intermittent fasting. I am a proponent of intermittent fasting and often as we go down it becomes a useful tool in managing your deficit.
So that is what my next article will be is gradually managing your calories down and potentially using intermittent fasting to do that (and maybe some of the pitfalls you want to look for along the way).
Look out for that in the next few days.
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