On Weight Loss (Part 2)

Sep 7, 2021

Last month I discussed the key to weight loss- CALORIE DEFICIT. The concept that you need to eat less calories than you burn. That is the one and only thing you need in order to lose weight. Quite simple, but of course not easy in practice.

If you read last month’s blog, then I suspect you have some questions about how to put “calorie deficit” into practice. There are many ways to calculate how many calories you burn daily. Unfortunately Fitbits, Apple watches, etc. are notoriously bad at calculating true calorie burn. Good for checking heart rate during exercise, but not accurate in calculating calories expended. There are some simple equations out there to help calculate how many calories you should be taking in per day to achieve a calorie deficit (i.e. goal body weight multiplied by 12). One good video on Youtube explaining this is entitled “weight loss calorie calculator” by Jordan Syatt. If you are going to count calories daily, this may be a helpful starting point. These are estimations and also not completely accurate, so the key is to be consistent. You need to stick with a set daily calorie intake for at least 4 weeks. If you have lost some weight, then keep going with that calorie target. If you have not lost weight or gained weight, then lower the daily target calorie a little bit. Then try that new target for at least another 4 weeks. Your weight is going to vary a lot day to day, but if you give yourself at least a month on a set target then you should have a more accurate picture of what is going on. This is not easy to do because you have to be fairly consistent. May be easier to shoot for a weekly calorie target which will allow you to have some days at a higher intake and other days at a lower intake. Remember, this is a slow process. However, as I talked about in last month’s blog- slow change is the best change.

I have found that consistency with diet has always been the hardest part for me. If I am working out consistently, I tend to have a more consistent diet and I just feel better overall. When I feel better, I have more motivation to eat consistently. I used to struggle to go to the gym. It took me years to create a system that worked for me. I wish I could say that I work out now out of habit, but that would be a lie. Every morning I wake up, I still have to force myself to workout. Motivation just doesn’t happen that way. Action leads to motivation, not the other way around. The best part about working out more is that I can eat more too (burning more calories plays in to that calorie deficit). I still like delicious food. I will always enjoy birthday cake and ice cream treats. I just try to fill my diet with large salads, good proteins, and just a small/reasonable portion of junk foods. This is totally reasonable, especially if those treats fit into my calorie target. If you have one bad day- forget it, move on, and get back on track the next day. I don’t like the term “cheat meals” or “cheat days” because everyone is going to celebrate a holiday with a big meal or enjoy mom’s homemade chicken parmesan once in a while. This is not cheating- this is life. You can be consistent by getting right back on track, and by generally being better than you were before.
If calorie counting seems intimidating, you don’t necessarily have to do it in order to lose weight. The concepts remain the same. It can be a good tool in the beginning, especially to teach yourself about appropriate portion sizes. However, you will probably lose weight even if you just eat healthier, higher volume, lower calorie food (such as vegetables and lean meat) and exercise more frequently. It is all about consistency. If you do better more consistently than you have done in the past, then you are likely to lose weight. If you notice that you are not losing weight, then change something up and be consistent with it for at least a month. Make those changes slowly and watch what happens- I bet you will have some success!


– Jacquelyn Clark, MD, MBA