With all of the information and programs out there, it surprises me that anyone gets healthy.  Some programs claim you can lose 21 lbs in 21 days, and then there are the 10,000 of diets to choose. Instead of Basking Robbins 51 Flavors, it’s like walking into an entire grocery store of options all selling you the same thing.

No wonder it’s so hard to get started and keep the momentum going.

However, if you understand the principles of health and weight loss you can start to make better-educated decisions on which program is right for you. Energy balance is one of the fundamental principles of weight loss.  In James Smith’s post, he discusses the critical points on energy balance and weight loss.

If you want more from James Smith, check out his facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/JamesSmithPT

Here’s my take on this:

  1. I loved that he discusses the difference between fat-loss and weight loss. There is no need to obsess over the scale daily because there are so many things that affect weight like dehydration and water retention. High Sodium foods, drinking too little, and long trips sitting can cause you to retain water.
  2. Water has 0 Calories. Does have a bunch of health benefits to being hydrated, but this is probably the smallest factor in long-term weight loss. PLEASE! Stop thinking not drinking enough water is the reason you are overweight. It’s not. Your food choices are the most significant factors.
  3. Make sure you are strength training and eating enough protein to support lean muscle. Ideally, you want to aim for .65 to .85 grams per pound of body weight.
  4. The only thing I wish he would have added is for people to know how much weight they should be losing. We had a client think she lost only muscle in the last week even though she just lost a pound.   Typically the recommended rate of weight loss is 1-2 lbs per week.  Any faster, and you are likely losing muscle. The other negative to rapid weight loss is that you are less likely to maintain it. Why? Because you had to make more drastic changes to your lifestyle and they were either not sustainable, or the habits didn’t have a chance to stick.
  5. We have our clients weigh regularly.  Not because it’s a sign of fat loss or muscle loss, but because it gives you feedback. You have to see the scale as just a feedback tool. It’s only data for you to learn from. Yes, you can have body comp changes initially without a weight change, but if it’s been 3-4 months and the scale hasn’t dropped you need to look more closely at your lifestyle and diet.

If you want to lose weight or build muscle, understanding energy balance is a must. Both goals have opposite approaches. To lose weight, you have to create a calorie deficit and to build muscle you have to be in a calorie surplus.

As you approach your goal to losing weight, there is nothing wrong with weight loss being your goal. However, as James Smith said, make sure you focus on the importance you do lose is fat loss and not muscle.

Stick to the 1-2 lbs a week, strength train regularly, and make sure you eat an adequate amount of protein.  Personally, when I try to lose weight, my goal is only 1 lb per week. Don’t get caught in the trap of trying to do it all in a month.  Get started now, and you could be down 52 lbs next year and be ten times more likely to keep it off.