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The mathematical explanation of weight loss

March 7, 2012 - By Karine Larose, M.Sc.

Temps de lecture 3 minutes


There are two fundamental aspects to weight loss: caloric intake (the quantity of calories you eat) and the calories burned (the total quantity your body uses during the day). In order to successfully lose weight, a deficit must be created. This means that you need to spend more calories than you eat. To do so, you need to know 1) how many calories you burn every day and 2) how many calories you eat every day.

Calories burned

Your body has three principal means of burning calories, which are: your basal metabolism (thinking, making your heart beat, breathing, sleeping, etc.), physical activity (walking to the office, running, using the stairs, getting up and sitting down, working out at the gym, etc.), and dietary thermogenesis (the energy required to digest food). The basal metabolism accounts for 60 to 70% of your the total energy expenditure. This means that overall, in one day, 60 to 70% of the calories you eat are burned while you sleep, or to regulate body temperature, to make your heart beat, etc. The quantity of calories that your basal metabolism burns will vary depending on different factors (for more details and to calculate your own basal metabolism, see my article on Basal Metabolism). Dietary thermogenesis accounts for only 10% of the daily energy expenditure, and the remaining 30 to 40% is spent during your various physical activities. This is the aspect on which you have most control, which means that the more active you are, the more calories you will burn!

Caloric intake

Of course, in order to know what your daily caloric intake is, you need to write down in your food log each meal you eat, and estimate the total quantity of calories that these meals contain. I suggest that you seek the help of a nutritionist for a more accurate estimation.

Losing weight in a healthy way

Therefore, we have three ways of losing weight:

1- Eat less

2- Exercise more

3- Combine both of these

For various reasons, the third option should be preferred, because regular physical activity (exercising a little bit more) combined with a food plan with slightly fewer calories (eating a little bit less) allows you to lose weight in a healthy way. It will also help you to feel not too hungry, will limit the loss of lean body mass (muscle loss), and promote a loss of weight that will last. With these two strategies (eating less and exercising more), you will have a better hold on yourself that will help you control your weight even after your weight loss program. To be on the safe side and get all the possible advantages, eat healthy and lead a more active lifestyle.


By Karine Larose

The mathematical explanation of weight loss is a post from Nautilus Plus. The Nautilus Plus blog aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
Copyright © Nautilus Plus 2012

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