Making healthy food choices is vitally important to your long-term well-being. The bad news is, healthy eating alone won’t necessarily help you drop to your desired weight. That makes sense when we consider that a woman who weighs 140 pounds and a woman who weighs 200 pounds aren’t going to have the same results from the same diet.
Every person needs to customize their diet for their body’s needs. Here, Chris Powell, author of Choose More, Lose More For Life, shares the three steps that will help you start losing weight now.
Step 1: What’s Your Number?
The key to successful weight loss is to customize your diet by targeting your body’s specific calorie needs. Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. Even when you're at rest, your body needs energy for all its functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells.
The number of calories your body uses to carry out these basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate – what you might call metabolism. Several factors determine your individual basal metabolic rate, but thanks to Chris Powell’s simple method, it’s easy to crack the calorie code:
Take your current weight and multiply it by 12 to come up with your “burn rate.”
Example: Let’s say you weigh 165 pounds. 165 x 12 = 1980. That would mean your body burns 1980 calories a day at its resting metabolic rate.
Whenever you eat more calories than your metabolism burns, your body stores the extra energy as body fat. So, in this example, if your normal burn rate is 1980 calories a day and you eat 2500 calories, that means 520 calories are going to extra weight. If you eat 1980 calories, you’ll maintain your weight. And if you eat less than 1980 calories, your body makes up the energy shortfall by tapping into your fat, causing you to lose weight.
If you think you’re eating under your daily rate, you might want to think again. Studies show that most people think they’ve eaten 20% fewer calories than they actually have.
You’d be surprised how easily those calories add up. The following menu is an example of healthy eating choices that could still push a woman who weighs 165 pounds over her calorie threshold.
Chai tea latte (180 calories)
Low-fat Greek yogurt and 1/2 cup granola and banana (519 calories)
Salad with grilled chicken and olive oil; cup of raspberries (329 calories)
Hummus and pita chips; apple (300 calories)
Turkey burger on a wheat wrap; brown rice; black bean and corn salad (796 calories)
Pack of cookies (100 calories)
These are, for the most part, all healthy eating choices. But they all add up to 2224 calories over the course of the day, well over a 165-pound woman’s 1980-calorie target.
Now that you know your body’s blueprint and basal metabolic rate, you have a powerful tool to help you lose weight.