Tag Archives: Losing Weight

Calories and Weight Control – What Is Your BMR?

It is common knowledge that calories and weight control are closely related. To put it in simple terms – you must first determine the ideal caloric intake for your desired weight. Then, you should track your daily intake. If your intake is more than your ideal weight requirement, you will NOT lose weight – in fact, you may gain weight.

We have already discussed the Body Mass Index (BMI) in two previous posts: Calculate Your BMI and Are You Overweight or Obese? This number is different from your Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR).

BMI determines a person’s ideal weight based on height. Unless you shrink dramatically with age, that number will not change. It is also the number that determines if you are underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese.

Your BMR, is the number of calories needed each day (without any activity) to sustain your ideal weight. This number can change with age as your metabolism slows. You will have to eat fewer calories to maintain your ideal weight. In other words, you cannot eat the way you did when you were younger and stay slim.

So, if you want a number that is going to be effective in weight control as far as calorie intake is concerned, you will need to determine your current Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR).

Formulas for determining BMR

  • For WOMEN: 65.5 + (4.35 x weight in lbs) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
  • For MEN: 66 + (6.2 x weight in lbs) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.67 x age in years)

Let’s look at an example:

A 35-year-old woman – weight 140 lbs, 5’6” tall. She is happy with her current weight and wants to maintain it.  Let’s use the formula to determine her BMR.

65.5 + (4.35 x 140) + (4.7 x 66) – (4.7 x 35)

65.5 + (609) + (310.2) – (164.5) = BMR = 820.2

Once you have your BMR, you need a multiplier factor based on exercise level. The chart below is from FitnessHealth101 and can help you quickly determine the calorie intake required to sustain a specific weight. Be honest about your activity level, otherwise the numbers will not be accurate.

Activity Multiplier

Using our example and factoring in her lifestyle of moderate activity, in order to sustain her current weight she should ingest ~1272 calories daily.

820.2 x 1.55 = 1272 (rounded up) calories

My guess is that when you saw the answer, you may have been surprised at the low number of calories required for an average, moderately-active woman to sustain a healthy weight. Even more shocking should be the fact that the vast majority of people eat double or triple that number of calories.

Are you guilty of eating far too many calories?  Calculate your BMR today, think about what your normally eat and find out.  DO NOT lie to yourself about the number of calories you ingest every day.

If the BMR calculation is too complicated, you have another choice. You can use standard charts and guidelines published by the government or supplied by your doctor. Using these charts is better than nothing, but they are not as accurate as using the BMR formula.

Online Calculators

If you want the information right now, easy-to-use calculators can be found online.  A good BMR Calculator that I use is on MyFitnessPal. You can also try a calorie calculator on Calculator.net. Just insert the necessary information and it will calculate the number of calories you need to sustain, lose, or gain weight. If your current weight is more than you desire, plug your ideal weight into the formula to get an accurate number of calories you should be eating to reach that goal.

Hopefully, once you understand the relationship between calories and weight, plus the importance of eating healthy food (which is typically lower in calories), you can use that information to budget your calories wisely. If you eat far too many calories on a daily basis and have not gained a lot of weight yet, at some point you will – probably sooner than later.

Unless you are severely obese, there is a very good chance that you can lose weight by sticking to a high-nutrition, low-calorie plan based on the BMR formulas. It will not necessarily be quick, but if you stay with it, it will happen (and slow is the best way to lose weight).  Always, check with your doctor regarding your general health status before starting any weight loss program.

It is easy to blame health issues or other factors out of your control on weight gain; but, 90% or more of the time, it is really about eating the wrong foods and eating too much.  The only common condition I know of that may create weight gain is when women enter perimenopause.

Nutritionally-Rich Diets Help You Lose Weight

The main reason for eating nutritionally-rich, lower-calorie foods is to provide your body with the essentials needed for good health. You will feel better, you cravings will decrease, and your desire for healthier foods will increase.

You may still experience cravings from time to time, but those will be lingering emotional cravings rather than actual food cravings. Changing eating habits can be challenging, because we have to eat to live, so you cannot just stop eating. Instead, you must learn to eat differently – and there is the rub.

By choosing fiber-rich and water-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, plus some whole grains, you will not feel deprived even on a diet consisting of only 1272 calories a day. You will also ensure that you are getting enough vitamins and minerals each day without exceeding your calorie allowance.

It is critical to eliminate all empty-calorie foods such as fast foods, prepackaged foods, and snack foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat. Some of the most problematic snacks foods are Big Gulps, Monster Drinks, sodas, doughnuts, cake, cookies, crackers, and candy. These are not only empty calories, they are dangerous to your health.

When you start paying attention to the caloric and nutritional content of foods that you eat; and your body makes an adjustment to the change, your desire for processed and refined empty-calorie foods will begin to diminish.

I think we have established that calories and weight control are closely related.  You can use that to your advantage. I promise that if you stay with this new way of eating, the cravings for bad foods will begin to diminish because many of them are the result of poor nutrition. As you give your body what it really needs, you will start to feel completely satisfied with the good foods you have incorporated into your diet.

Are You Overweight or Obese?

Weight Loss Plateau
Image by Kris Robinson

Many people are a lot closer to being medically obese that they care to admit. There is a misconception that you have to be 100 lbs or more overweight to be considered obese. The reality is that you can be obese and at risk for all the health problems associated with obesity with only 40 pounds excess weight. Where do you fit? Are you overweight or obese? Read on . . .

Obesity is determined by your BMI (Body Mass Index), which is the measure of body fat based on height and weight.  This measurement is not infallible, but it gives a fairly accurate measure of your body’s fat composition.  For adults 20 years plus, BMI is interpreted using standard weight status categories. The categories are the same for men and women of all body types and ages.

First take a look at what your ideal weight should be:  Rush University Medical Center, “How Much Should I Weigh?

Let’s use a woman at 5 foot 5 inches for our example.

Chart shows: Height – Normal Weight – Overweight – Obese Weight
5ft5in woman weight

Then, take a look at this BMI Chart (which corresponds with the weight categories shown):

BMI              Health Status
Below 18.5    Underweight
18.5 – 24.9    Normal
25.0-29.9      Over weight
30.0 and Above    Obese

According to this chart a 5 foot 5 inch woman who is 140 lbs is within a normal BMI range, with a BMI of 23.3. So, how much weight does she have to gain to be 30.0 or above? Surprisingly, only 40 lbs! At 180 lbs, the 5’ 5” female, will have a calculated BMI of 30.0.  That is very disturbing when you think about it. How many women do you know who are carrying 40+ extra pounds? I know quite a few (men as well).

There are different levels of obesity. When a woman has a BMI of 40 or greater, she is classified morbidly obese, which affects 1 in 20 people. Morbid obesity is rapidly overtaking smoking as the second leading cause of preventable death.

Our 5’5” woman would have to gain almost 100 lbs to be morbidly obese; but, she will be in danger of many illnesses associated with obesity such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke long before she reaches that point.

By the time a woman gets to the level of morbid obesity, it is very likely that she already has one or more serious health conditions. Unfortunately, without drastic intervention most morbidly obese people do not lose weight and keep it off.

I am not saying that it is impossible; but, statistically, it is unlikely. Sadly, when people prove the statistics to be valid and remain morbidly obese, they cannot live a long and happy life. They usually die younger than they should from a whole range of painful and deadly diseases.

Surgery is an alternative and for some may be the answer, though a dangerous one. The truth is you that it is not the only alternative.

While statistics show the obese person as unlikely to lose weight and keep it off, it is possible stick to a diet that meets nutritional needs, caloric needs, and adequate mobility so that the individual has a real chance for a long, healthy life.

With discipline and absolute commitment to a whole foods healthy diet (rich in veggies and fruits, low in processed GMO (genetically modified organisms), elimination of refined sugar and white flour, and low in processed/fast foods) it is possible to experience a slow and healthy weight loss, plus improved health.

However, it is not just the diet that has to be changed – it has to be an entire lifestyle change. Weight loss is not a race or quick fix in spite of the diet industry and reality TV’s portrayal of weight loss. The most effective way to permanent weight loss is through a lifetime change in what and how you eat, plus exercise and plenty of rest.

Even if you do resort to surgery, you will still have to make a huge change in what you eat. Making those same changes without surgery would bring about the same result – it would just take a little longer and be much safer.

If you are in the overweight category and have not yet reached the extreme danger zone of obesity, you may want to change your lifestyle now, to prevent the problem from escalating.

Eat Well – Live Well – Be Happy

Calculate Your BMI

Image by NASIRKHAN
Image by NASIRKHAN

BMI (Body Mass Index)is a calculation based on height and weight that is used to determine a person’s health risks due to the amount of body fat they are carrying. It is a preferred first step used by doctors because it is non-invasive and costs nothing. Based on BMI, a doctor can make decisions on whether or not to do more tests.

There are a few situations for which BMI is not a good indicator of overall health. For example: Body builders may have a high BMI but not actually be overweight or carrying excess fat. They just have higher muscle mass than the average person. But, generally speaking, BMI is a good measurement for determining general good health (or the lack thereof.)

BMI is very easy to calculate. Fill in the blanks for the formula:

(Weight pounds / Height inches²) 703

Translation:  Weight in pounds, divided by height in inches squared, times 703.

An example for a 160 lbs, 5 foot 9 inch tall person:
(160/4761) = 0.0336063 x 703 = 23.62 (round up to 24)

According to the chart below, this person is at the high end of the normal weight range, and should be watching his/her weight.

BMI               Health Status
Below 18.5     Underweight
18.5 – 24.9     Normal
25.0 – 29.9    Overweight
30.0 and above     Obese

This chart applies to all adults, both men and women – 20 years old or older. This creates a slight discrepancy because men typically have more muscle than women and women carry more fat than men. But, it is a good start to determine if your weight is within a healthy range, or not.

If you really dislike math, there are BMI calculators online that you can use. One that I recommend is offered by the NIH ( National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute), click here: BMI Calculator It is very easy to use.

There are other charts and calculators for children and teenagers that factor in age and sex – provided by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website.

The most important reason to track your BMI is to help you stay within a healthy weight range. If you are – great! If not, it is time to do is to do whatever you need to do to get your weight where it should be. Unhealthy weight (under or over) is not good. There are many risks associated with both that should be addressed.

Let’s look at the same person above who is at the high end of the normal range – edging toward the overweight category. Let’s  increase  his/her weight by 40 pounds to 200. He now falls into the obese category with a BMI of 30.0, which puts him at risk for health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and more. Don’t let this happen to you!

Eat Breakfast for Good Health and Weight Control

Breakfast – The Most Important Meal of the Day

With 6 Healthy Breakfast Ideas

You have heard all your life that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And yet . . . you may be among the huge number of individuals from all over the world who have never taken that admonition seriously. As a result, they skip breakfast and fill up on coffee instead.

Even if you do not want to accept it, breakfast is the most significant meal of the day. I promise that eating a healthy breakfast is a great first step toward improving your diet and your health, plus you will have much greater success at weight control.

The term breakfast describes exactly what the first meal of the day represents – It breaks your fast. You have essentially fasted for 8 to 12 hours (since your last meal the night before) and your body’s energy source needs to be replenished.

Obviously, you do not eat when you are sleeping and your body is at rest, so eating early in the day is necessary in order to nourish your body and have the energy you need to function well throughout the day – both physically and mentally. Some nutrients, such as proteins, cannot be stored in the body and a new supply must be provided. Breakfast is the match that lights the energy fire.

Tony Goldstone, MD, PhD, a consultant endocrinologist with the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre at Imperial College London, states, “When people skip meals, especially breakfast, changes in brain activity in response to food may hinder weight loss and even promote weight gain.” (Web MD, 3 Jul 2014)

People who do not eat breakfast tend to crave high calorie foods to quell their hunger pains and over-indulge with high-calorie mid-morning snacks or stuff themselves at lunch. Both practices contribute to weight gain. Obviously, overeating leads to obesity, which leads to a number of health issues – including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and others.

Healthy foods, such as whole grain toast and bagels, eggs, bran cereals, lean meats, and fruit are good sources of vitamins and minerals that will provide energy throughout the day.

When a healthy breakfast is not eaten first thing in the morning, it is difficult to compensate for the loss during the remainder of the day. It is critical to remember that when the body does not receive the appropriate levels of nutrients, the body cannot function properly.

Studies show that anyone who eats a healthy, nutrient-rich breakfast, tends to eat healthier foods throughout the rest of the day, which ensures that his/her body has a consistent supply of necessary nutrients for good health.

If you do a little planning the night before and allocate 15 to 20 minutes each morning to enjoy breakfast, it can make a huge difference in your health and your daily energy levels and productivity.

The ideal breakfast will incorporate at least three different food groups. For example: A 100% whole-wheat English muffin (whole grains group) topped with pure peanut or almond butter (protein food group) and a fresh orange or freshly-squeezed orange juice (fruit group) is a good combination. Of course, you can add your favorite coffee to the mix with a healthy dose of milk (which adds dairy); just don’t use the coffee as a substitute for the meal.

Even though it is wise to sit down and eat your healthy breakfast, sometimes time simply doesn’t allow for that delightful luxury. In that case, avoid the temptation to skip it altogether and remember that breakfast doesn’t need to be complicated – grab a fresh bagel, a homemade nutrition bar, a hard-boiled egg, or a couple of cheese sticks – plus an apple, banana or orange – all of which can be eaten on the road, if necessary.  That is much better than skipping the meal completely.

The bottom line is . . . eat breakfast to sustain your energy and stay healthy.

6 Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Egg White Omelet

Egg white omelet
Image by Frank Gruber

This is an excellent choice for heart health and weight management.

If fat intake and cholesterol are concerns, egg white omelets eliminate a lot of fat. Each large egg yolk has 4.5 grams of fat and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, and contain ~200 milligrams of cholesterol, as opposed to egg whites which do not. Egg whites have only 17 calories and no fat. They also contain most of the egg’s protein, about 4 grams of protein in 1 large egg, plus other essential nutrients.

However, it is important to note that the yolk contains essential fatty acids and according to the American Heart Association healthy adults can safely eat one whole egg per day. Your choice should be guided by your personal health concerns and your dietary goals.

Be creative and add lean turkey slices, ham, turkey sausage or even turkey bacon. You can also add cheese and a wide variety of vegetables, such as, tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms and even fresh garlic. The possibilities are endless in making these delicious and hearty breakfast meals that are full of protein and provide a lot of energy for the day ahead.

To round out the meal add a slice of 100% whole-wheat toast and freshly-squeezed juice, or a piece of fresh fruit.

Oatmeal

Oats are whole grains that offer high-fiber and a protein-filled start to your day. Warm oatmeal makes a hearty, healthy  wonderful breakfast. Add fresh berries or bananas for some sweetness and delight.

Rolled oats can also be eaten cold.  Mix 1/4 cup oats with 6 oz. Greek non-fat (or vanilla) yogurt, a little milk to thin it out a bit, a small handful of pecans (walnuts or pine nuts), a dollop of honey (or sweetener – with non-fat yogurt only) and cinnamon to make a great “muesli” that can be prepared the night before and eaten the next morning. If you are partial to sugar, I recommend Stevia®, which has no calories and is an all-natural sugar substitute.

Buckwheat Pancakes

How about some delicious buckwheat pancakes?

Buckwheat is a whole grain that is much healthier than white flour, is loaded with nutrients, and is much less fattening. Since it is low in carbs its impact on blood sugars is minimal and will not cause the spikes that cause you to crash and burn half way through your day.

One 4” buckwheat pancake has 37 calories, 1.34 grams of fat, 5.1 grams of carbs and 1.42 grams of protein. If you need a great recipe, I recommend this one:   Buckwheat Pancakes from Cookie + Kate – it also includes a wonderful recipe for roasted strawberries.

If you must use syrup, use real maple syrup (and use it sparingly), or opt for fresh berries with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, or a swirl of peanut or almond butter.

Bagel and Fruit

Another healthy breakfast idea is a whole grain bagel with a swirl of cream cheese (or peanut butter), served with fresh fruit.

Protein Smoothie

This is the easiest of all the suggestions – any good blender will work.  A fresh fruit smoothie with protein powder is an quick, delicious, healthy way start to your day. Slice and blend! Add a little ice to make it thick and cold. Use only fresh fruit or fresh juice without added sugar for the best energy boost. Canned or bottled juice is basically liquid sugar.

Whole Grain Cereal

Personally, I am not a big fan of cereals, there are usually too many additives for my taste, but if you are a devotee of the packaged cereal, choose wisely.  In addition to additives, many of them are loaded with sugar, so read labels carefully.  Cereal can add a lot of good stuff to your diet — or it can add a whole lot of nothing.

One of the best is Grape Nuts (Original).  Contents: Whole Grain Wheat, Wheat Flour, Sugar, Malted Barley Flour, High Oleic Vegetable Oil (Canola or Sunflower Oil), Salt.

The only other two I can recommend are:  1) Kashi Go Lean – full of fibre and contains seven whole grains. According to Kashi  it contains no artificial ingredients. 2) Kellogg’s All Bran Original – a high-fibre, iron-fortified cereal that is fairly dense without a lot of taste. I recommend that you eat it in small portions or mix with fruit and low fat yogurt to make it more interesting.

The nutrients in whole grain cereals give you long-lasting energy; and because they are so filling, you are less likely to overeat throughout the day.

Add fresh berries, such as strawberries, blackberries, or raspberries to cereals for added sweetness, vitamins and anti-oxidants – avoid refined sugar.

You can also add a little milk (regular or lactose-free), almond milk, rice milk, etc.

Eat Hearty! Eat Healthy! Live Longer!

Safe Weight Loss

Scales - Time to Lose Weight
Image by Paola Kizette Cimenti

Safe weight loss is a critical factor when considering a diet. The rate at which you lose the pounds can have significant impact on your health and well-being.

If  you want and/or need to lose weight, you are probably like most of us – you want it to happen as quickly and easily as possible.  I am right there with you; but, there is a limit to the amount of weight you should lose in a specific period of time – too much – too fast –  can be dangerous.

It is easy to be seduced by the advertising campaigns that make promises they can’t keep and if they can, they are probably dangerous to your health.  The ads that say you can lose a full dress size in one week should not be considered because of the potential dangers involved.

People buy into such promises because they want it to be true and believe that if it is advertised in public media, the diets must be safe – and think it could be a good way to jump-start a longer-term diet.

This is the truth . . . extremely fast weight loss is dangerous.  In order to do so, you must take things to the extreme – either limiting caloric intake to an unhealthy level, not eating enough nutritionally rich food which deprives the body of the nutrients it needs to function effectively, eating very little and supplementing with dangerous diet pills or drinks, and/or exercising to the point of exhaustion day after day.

Yes, extreme dieting methods will ensure rapid weight loss, but you lose more than just fat. The first thing you lose is water weight; then, muscle tissue, which may be replaced with fat, or muscle tissue in the wrong places once you begin to gain weight again.  Finally, the immune system is weakened leaving you at risk for illness and disease.

Rapid weight loss also slows down your metabolism (goes into survival mode) because the body is not getting enough calories to function properly. Regenerating your metabolism back to normal after such a slowdown can be difficult – not a risk you want to take.

Rapid weight loss (especially if extended over a period of time) can cause malnutrition, which adversely affects the way you look, the body’s ability to heal wounds, causes mood swings, bloating, and extreme fatigue.

Do the math . . . one pound of body weight equals 3,500 calories.  So, in order to lose 10 pounds in one week, you would have to cut  35,000 calories from your weekly diet.  That doesn’t even sound healthy – because it is not.  It is extreme and will negatively impact your body and your health.

Healthy weight loss as the result of dieting consists of an initial loss of 3 to 4 pounds in the first week. This is to be expected  as you change your eating habits (in other words you stop feeding your body more calories than it burns). Following the initial weight loss, a steady rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week is a healthy rate and it will be much easier to keep the weight off.  Losing more in a week is risky.

As you can see – patience can be a powerful virtue for someone committed to healthy dieting! Go slowly – take it off and keep it off.

See you next time,

Nancy