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How to Use Math to Lose Weight

We’re at the brink of the New Year, and if you’re anything like me, you’re ready to go in strong. As of the writing of this post, I’ve been quarantining for the bulk of this past year; virtually teaching and physically not moving around much. I mean, with 2 toddlers running in our home, I do a little, but I could do more. I have to admit, though, staying at home had its benefits on my weight.

Some people spent this time ordering out food. We, for the most part, still shopped and made all our meals homemade. We’ve been doing that before the quarantine to save money, so there was no change there. What did change, however, was my secret spending of fast food, when I would drive to or from the school I taught at.

Just think about it. Along with the standard breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I was adding an additional high-calorie meal into my routine, which at the beginning of the quarantine, had me at a whopping 234 lbs as a 5’10”, 33 y/o male! So, with very little working out, I went from 232 lbs to around 215 lbs simply by not driving to the fast food line and a few additional dietary changes.

I worked out VERY little on my short journey from 232 to 215. I’m not a big fan of working out at all.

Working out did three things I did not like:

  1. It flared up my asthma if I over-exerted myself, leaving me to constantly monitor my breathing and how my body felt during the course of the workouts.
  2. I’d find some way to injure myself. Whether it be having Achilles tendonitis or my current inflamed back and sternum from poor exercise form, if there’s a way to get hurt working out, I’d find it.
  3. Gaining muscle. It’s hard to monitor your weight, when you’re gaining muscle. Sure you can do that if you have what you need to calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index), but I personally do not. I heard one lady say she lost 22 pounds of fat and gained 14 pounds of muscle. That’s all well and good, but that essentially means that the scale will say you lost 6 pounds! So, yes, I don’t like the idea of working out to lose weight, though there are obviously additional health benefits including an increased metabolism by exercising.

What is the Secret Math Formula to Losing Weight?

Let’s make something clear really quickly. A Snickers bar has 215 calories. A 30-minute HIIT workout for beginners (nonstop sweat and tears) will lose 215 calories if you’re exercising correctly. You can eat a Snickers bar in about 2 minutes (1 minute if you’re serious), and it takes 30 minutes of pain to get rid of it!

Taking this a little bit further, who in the world just EATS a Snickers bar? No way! I’d be drinking some milk or having a Coca Cola with that thing. I mean, if you’re going to wash it down, you have to wash it down right! That’s an additional 187 calories, if you get a 16-oz bottle from the gas station! Now you have to burn 402 calories just to supplement that hardly filling snack!

I say all this to shine a light on one clear fact: Losing substantial weight starts with your eating habits more than your activity habits.

Yes, you can do both, but if you’re going to do anything to see results, look at what you’re consuming. In fact, the formula to losing weight has a lot to do with what you eat.

Let’s get into the numbers:

If you look at other articles about the math behind losing weight, they only give you partial information. Believe me, when researching for this blog post, I found plenty of decent sources, but they didn’t fully answer the question. However, when compiling all the data, I found these numbers and formulas to be effective with completely giving you the formula to lose weight.

There are 3500 calories = 1 pound of fat

So the simplest idea is that all you have to do to lose weight is consume 500 calories less every day of the week to lose a pound or burn 500 calories every day via exercise to lose that pound. This is what the other articles say, but they don’t answer the question: 500 calories less than what?

The truth is you can consume 500 calories less every day for a week and see no pound lost at all! If you try working out, you might just gain muscle, making it seem like you’re losing nothing.

My next question is: What if my body has been trending on a weight gain this entire time? The truth is that if you’re consuming 500 or more calories higher than the average amount of calories you need to just maintain the weight you have, then you’re not going to see weight loss. You’ll either stay at the weight you are or you’ll just gain weight slower than you used to.

I don’t want you wasting your time sweating or eating less unless you’re going to see good results from it.

So, I found this formula called the Harris-Benedict formula. It basically takes a few steps to calculate how many calories your body should be taking in every day to just maintain your current weight. The idea is once we calculate how many calories your body should have to just maintain the weight you have, we can effectively find how many less calories you should eat to lose weight at any speed you want!

This is the formula:

BMR for males = 66 + (6.2 x weight) + (12.7 x height) ā€“ (6.76 x age)

BMR for females = 655.1 + (4.35 x weight) + (4.7 x height) ā€“ (4.7 x age)

The BMR stands for Basal Metabolic Rate. This tells you how many calories you body naturally burns just by living every day. When we blink, our hearts beat, our lungs take in oxygen, etc, we automatically lose calories. BMR just tells us how much we actually lose.

Using the formula above, my BMR is 66 + (6.2 * 216.8) + (12.7 * 70) – (4.7 * 34)

= 66 + (1344.16) + (889) – (159.8)

= 2139.36 calories!

According to the definition of BMR, this is the amount of calories my body uses every day.

Next, you must determine your activity level. This is an honest look at how active you are with exercise every day. This is the list:

Little To No Exercise – 1.2

Exercise 1-3 Days a Week – 1.375

Exercise 3-5 Days a Week – 1.55

Exercise 6-7 Days a Week – 1.725

Exercise Via Very Physical Job – 1.9

Due to Covid-19, I’m more on the 1.2 level. Heck, even without Covid-19 I’m on the 1.2 level!

The last step is to multiply your activity level to your BMR. When you do that, you will finally see how many calories you need to maintain your current weight.

So, for me, I’ll take 1.2 * 2139.36 to get a whopping 2,567.23 calories.

This math shows that it takes 2,567.23 calories to be consumed daily for me to keep my weight at the number it is right now; 216.8 lbs.

So any total daily calorie intake that’s less than 2,567.23 will go towards the 3,500 calories it takes to lose 1 pound!

How Long Will it Take to Get to My Goal Weight?

That depends on your goal, your total calories which will maintain your current weight, and your eating habits.

As mentioned earlier, if I am taking in more calories than 2,567.23, then I will be gaining weight. If 2,567.23 is what it takes to maintain my current weight, but I’m eating 3,500 calories a day by eating fast foods and snacking overnight, I will not lose weight just by cutting 500 calories a day. 3500 – 500 = 3000 calories. I’m still well over 2,567.23! You’d have to be drastic, cutting about 1,500 calories daily or splitting it up by cutting calories and exercising.

My Personal Goal Weight is 185 lbs. Ah the glory days, when I was that weight. I looked and felt good back then…

So, to reach this goal weight, I intake around 1800 or less calories a day. My average intake daily is around 1,500 calories right now. So, I’m cutting 1000 calories a day to lose 2 lbs a week. I’m at 216.8 right now, so every month, I lose roughly 8 lbs.

End of January – 208

End of Feb – 200

End of March – 192

End of April – 184

Once I reach my goal weight of 185, then I can scale back to 2,500 calories to maintain the weight without losing even more.

What is the Easiest Way to Count Calories?

There are a few good ways you can count calories:

  1. Read the serving size and calorie count of as many things you plan on eating as possible, then only eat the serving size. This way you know how many calories you’re intaking.
  2. Use the Lose It! app. I personally use the Lose It! app every single day to log my calories. It has a premium version, but the free version works just fine. The app sets you up with a weight loss goal of your choosing and will budget your calories for you as you tally what food you’ve had throughout the day. It also has lots of foods listed with their given calorie counts. All you have to do is select the food you ate and its amount. The app will do the rest!
  3. Count Calories Burned by exercising with HasFit on Youtube! My wife and I enjoy working out to these videos. They have a standard workout and a modified version to fit what you’re comfortable. The best thing I like about their videos is their Calorie Burn Counter at the top of the screen. You can literally see how many calories you are burning while working out with them. You can even add that to the Lose It! app.

How Do I Lose Weight Using Math?

You can lose weight easily by doing three things:

  1. Calculate the Calories it Takes to Maintain Your Current Weight. Use the BMR Formula by substituting in your age, weight, and height. Then multiply the BMR by your activity level number.
  2. Count Your Regular Calorie Intake Preferably Using the Lose It! App. Count Everything You Eat, Including Overnight.
  3. Determine Your Goal Weight and When You Want to Reach It.
  4. Based on the Goal Completion Date, You May Want to Cut 500 Calories Daily. If You Do That, You Must See How High Above Your Total Maintaining Calorie Number You Are. You’ll Have to Cut That Difference and an Additional 500 Calories.

What are Some Tips to Get Me to My Goal?

  1. Be Consistent. You will see results within the second week if you are consistent with logging your calories and staying under your target daily calories.
  2. Snack Healthier. I used to eat a bowl of cereal overnight. I traded that in for grapes. They’re a lot less calories and are satisfying until you get to a place where you don’t snack overnight.
  3. Meal Prep. Meal Prepping takes about 30 minutes, but it gives you time to think of meals you can cook instead of ordering out. Most foods you order out can be 700-1000 calories if you’re not careful. Meal Prepping is a way to save on calories, while still eating filling food and will save you money as well!
  4. Plan Your Meals. Sounds like the same thing as Meal Prepping, but what this means is to think about your day. If you know you want some cake later on, count the calories and see where you may need to cut during other meal times. You don’t have to avoid certain foods. Just budget your foods, so that you can still eat cake and lose weight!
  5. Find Things That Motivate You. This can be a spouse or a friend. Perhaps journaling your weight loss journey would be motivating.

You Can Do It!

Make this New Year Something worth remembering in a positive manner. Math doesn’t lie.

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