A New Year's Weight Loss Plan
By: Stetson T. Thacker, PhD • Posted on January 09, 2017 • Updated December 06, 2021
Losing Weight The Healthy Way
Now that the New Year has started, you may have resolved to lose some weight and improve your overall health and wellness.
If you want to achieve your health goals this year, then I have some helpful advice on losing weight in a healthy, sustainable manner. Don't relapse into the complacency and convenience of not thinking about your health!
This isn't a flashy plan with some shortcut or secret - none of those gimmicks will actually help with sustainable weight loss. Nor is this advice a vague recommendation to eat better and workout more. It is some of the nuts and bolts of how to sustainably lose weight, achieve a healthier body composition and elevate your overall fitness.
A Comprehensive Weight Loss Plan
All in all, weight loss is generally a calories in versus calories out battle. Because weight can be simplified into an eat versus burn equation, the most effective and efficient way to lose weight is by modulating your diet.
Dietary changes will have a greater impact because the amount of calories you can burn during exercise pales in comparison to the amount you can eat in a single sitting. Now this doesn't mean starving yourself is the right path to losing weight - this is an unhealthy, unsustainable route that will do more harm than good. I have an easier, healthier and more sustainable plan for you.
Calculate your Total Energy Expenditure (TEE)
This is a critical step - figuring out how many total calories you burn in one day. This includes your:
- Basal metabolic rate: The calories you burn just by existing
- Activity: Calories you burn by moving, eating, and exercising
Unfortunately, TEE calculations are not extremely accurate for those who aren't low body-fat, athletically trained males, but the best general formula out there appears to be the Mifflin-St. Jeor.
Just remember, if you are someone with a high body-fat percentage, this formula will likely overestimate your TEE. The Mifflin-St. Jeor calculates your basal metabolic rate and then multiplies it by your activity factor.
Mifflin-St. Jeor Equation
The Mifflin-St. Jeor equation for women and men is below:
- Women: (Activity Factor) X (BMR) = (Activity Factor) X ([9.99 x weight (kg)] + [6.25 x height (cm)] - [4.92 x age (years)] -161) = TEE in calories
- Men: (Activity Factor) X (BMR) = (Activity Factor) X ([9.99 x weight (kg)] + [6.25 x height (cm)] - [4.92 x age (years)] + 5) = TEE in calories
TIP: Pay close attention to the units of measurement if using this formula: weight in kilograms and height in centimeters!
What's Your Activity Factor?
The numbers below are a general guide you can choose that represents your activity. Don't cheat yourself by exaggerating your activity and remember to include your total movement, not just exercise. Most people will fall within a range of 1.2 to 1.6 for an activity factor.
- 1.2 = Sedentary (Little to no activity or exercise)
- 1.3-1.4 = Lightly Active (Light daily activity and exercise 1-3 days a week)
- 1.5-1.6 = Moderately Active (Moderate activity and exercise 3-5 days a week)
- 1.7-1.8 = Very Active (Active lifestyle and intense daily exercise)
- 1.9-2.2 = Extremely Active (Extremely demanding exercise, constant activity)
* Consume 10% to 20% less calories than your TEE
Lose Weight By Eating 10-20 Percent Fewer Calories
This step is simple yet critical. Whatever your TEE number comes out to be, take 10% or 20% of it, depending on how aggressive you want to be in losing weight, and subtract that value from your TEE. Either way eating only 10% to 20% less than what you burn in a day is clearly not a crash diet or starving!
Eating Macronutrients For Weight Loss
The macronutrients you eat, matter! They will affect your body composition and daily ability to function. Pay attention to them. They fuel you, and we want you to be well-fueled and high functioning! Here is your guide to consuming macronutrients within your calculated limit.
Generally, the more of your dietary "pie" that you fill with protein the easier and greater your weight loss will be. However, there is some debate about whether eating a higher protein diet is healthier than prior protein intake recommendations.
The data seems positive, especially for those without prior kidney disease, however, we still have provided a conservative range on the protein estimates to guide you:
- 0.6 to 1.0 grams per pound of bodyweight
Fat is an important part of the diet and should not be cut entirely out of a sustainable weight loss plan:
- 0.4 to 0.7 grams per pound of bodyweight (if high body-fat, then 0.4 to 0.7 per lean mass weight in pounds)
Fill the remainder of your dietary consumption up to your calculated limit with carbohydrates. The details of this calculation are below:
Carb Consumption in grams = (Total calorie limit - [Grams of protein consumed X 4] X [Grams of fat consumed X 9])/4
You are, of course, free to tailor your carb intake to your desired amount by shifting the amount of protein and fat you consume within the specified ranges. The more carbs you consume the easier your weight loss journey will feel, but it will also be more gradual too.
TIP: Using any of the many available phone fitness apps is a convenient way to track calories and macronutrients.
Exercise Regularly For Weight Loss
Exercise regularly! Some form of daily activity is an absolute must, but it is even better if you can get to the gym, too!
Try to fit in 3 to 4 days a week of aerobic training and 3 to 4 days a week of resistance training. These session only need to be a half hour to an hour, if you are being efficient in the gym. Look for my next update for more information on exercise activities that target certain areas of the body.
Be Strong. Be Healthy. Be in Charge!
-Stetson T. Thacker, PhD
- MD Mifflin, ST St Jeor, et al. A new predictive equation for resting energy expenditure in healthy individuals. J Am Diet Assoc 2005:51:241-247. [http://ajcn.nutrition.org/cont...]
Stetson Thacker holds a PhD in Molecular Medicine from Case Western Reserve University. He studies PTEN mutation as an inherited risk factor for autism spectrum disorders and cancer at the Lerner Research Institute. Stetson's research can be found at his ORCID page or his Google Scholar profile. You can follow Stetson on Twitter at @stetson_thacker.
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