Our body burns energy in 3 main ways: 1) Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), 2) Physical Activity (PA), 3) Thermic Effect of Food (TEF). BMR is the energy that the body burns while undertaking normal processes such as breathing, sleeping and cellular activities. PA is the energy that the body burns during daily activities such as cleaning, gardening and walking, as well as sport and exercise. TEF is the energy that is burned during digestion and metabolism.
Our energy intake from food, needs to match with our energy output from these three things in order to maintain our body weight. When this balance is disturbed, our weight will change.
When we consume excess energy than we burn, our body stores this energy which causes weight gain. Our bodies are created with a set number of fat cells. However, when we consume a diet that consists of excess fat, sugar, processed foods and large portions, our body stores this excess as energy within our fat cells. When these cells are full and can no longer store any more of this excess energy, we simply make more fat cells. These extra fat cells can now fill up and continue to increase as needed.
Think of this process like grocery shopping… You have a trolley full of groceries but only 2 shopping bags to carry all of these products to your car. The easiest solution is to get extra shopping bags to help carry the remaining products. The groceries represent the excess energy we consume, and the shopping bags represent our fat cells. You don’t want groceries rolling around in your car, much like our bodies don’t want excess fat circulating in our blood.
In order to lose weight (and body fat), we need to burn more energy by undertaking more physical activities and exercise, or reduce the amount of energy we put into our bodies through foods and drinks.
To burn 1 kilogram of fat we need to burn or save over 14,000 kilojoules (3,500 calories). The best way to do this is to reduce your daily energy intake by 2,000 kilojoules. EG. If you consume 10,500 kilojoules per day, reducing this to 8,500 kilojoules will save you 2,000. Do this each day and you will save 14,000 kilojoules per week and about 1 kilogram of body fat.
Increasing the amount of energy you burn through increased physical activity will also help. Physical activity and exercise is beneficial for a variety of reasons, however it is particularly important for improving weight loss through increased metabolic processes, and allows weight loss to be better maintained over the long term.
When embarking on a weight loss journey, it is highly recommended that you consult with your doctor, dietitian and exercise physiologist to help guide you on the right path. There is lots of misleading information out there and experts can help clarify some of these misconceptions and develop a personalised plan suited to your individual needs.
It is recommended to start your weight loss journey by creating realistic goals. Ideally your initial weight loss goal should be to lose 5%-10% of your starting body weight. This not only has proven health benefits, but will encourage you to continue losing weight once you tick off this initial goal.
Once you have reached your goal weight, there are some other important points to be aware of. Your body had created extra fat cells for you to store any excess energy. Now that you have lost weight through an improved diet and increased exercise, these fat cells are empty. This is why weight gain is so much easier after losing a significant amount of weight. These fat cells are constantly hungry for energy and are sending messages to your brain to trigger food cravings and other processes that will lead to increased energy intake, or reduced energy utilisation so that these cells can be filled again. It is a vicious cycle.
As a dietitian, my best recommendations are to:
~ Eat healthily – Consume food from the 5 main food groups in amounts that are appropriate for your individual age and gender. Limit the amount of saturated fat, sugar, salt and processed foods you consume.
~ Engage in regular exercise and physical activity – There are numerous benefits to our health from physical activity, these benefits include better cardiovascular health, weight management and mental health.
~ Aim for 5%-10% weight loss – Losing this amount of weight, no matter what your starting weight is, improves your life expectancy, reduces cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes risks, improves sleep, and many others.
~ Keep a record – Record your exercise and daily intake to clearly identify areas for improvement and monitor your progress.
~ Don’t fuss about the numbers so much – We are all individual and a healthy body in one person looks very different to that of another person. Don’t worry about the numbers on the scales so much, and instead focus on what you are putting into your body.
If you would like any further information, have any questions, or would like assistance in your weight loss journey, please do not hesitate to contact Jessie for an appointment! Now that we are coming into a new year, it is the best time to start fresh and work on your health.
We accept calls, text messages, social media messages and emails, and are located in Penrith, NSW.
Looking forward to hearing from you.