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Let's face it, we live in Malaysia.
People all around the world come to this country to eat - that's how good our food is.
It's a heaven for people who loves to eat, but all the good food we have here make it really hard for us people who are trying hard to maintain our body weight.
In this post, we are going to look at how to lose weight, scientifically.
The first step to losing weight scientifically is to find out your basal metabolism rate.
*I know, it sounds really scientific doesn't it?
Put it this way, this is how much energy you would burn if you were asleep all day, not doing anything physically. In other words, this is the minimum amount of energy you would be burning everyday even without doing anything.
The general idea is this:
If you take in less calorie than the calories you burn, you will lose weight
Imagine this, when you work out, your body needs to burn calories to fuel your activities.
And our body is very smart this way - they will find the most readily available source of energy first, and once that's depleted, they will start converting other source of energy such as fat and turn it into energy.
So theoretically, if you know your daily calorie needs, you just need to take in less calories, and over time your body will burn fat to meet your energy requirement.
If you have a gym membership, you could easily request for this data. They can normally measure it for you using a %body fat analyzer.
Or if you have a smart electronic scale at home, you can sometimes get this data too.
If both options are out, here's a little math formula for you (also known as Harris-Benedict equation):
BMR (Basal Metabolism Rate) = 655 + (9.6 * weight in kg) + (1.8 * height in cm) - (4.7 * age)
BMR = 66 + (13.7 * weight in kg) + (5 * height in cm) - (6.8 * age)
In order to get your daily energy requirements, we need to multiply your BMR with the appropriate activity factor:
If you have little or no exercise at all - 1.2
If you are lightly active (1 - 3 days/week ) - 1.375
If you are moderately active (3-5 days/week) - 1.55
If you are very active (6-7 days/week) - 1.725
If you are extra active (trained professionally) - 1.9
Cheok is a 33 year old man of height 172 cm and 80kg. He is lightly active and does exercise 2-3 days a week.
BMR = 66 + (13.7 * 80) + (5 * 172) - (6.8 * 33) = 1797.6 Cal
Daily energy requirement = 1.375 * 1797.6 = 2471.7
Conclusion: Cheok normally burns around 2471.7 Cal a day and if his diet contributes less than 2471.7 Cal a day, his body will start burning fat to make up for the shortage of energy.
Now that we have our daily energy requirements, we have to make sure our calorie intake doesn't exceed our energy expenditure.
So the easiest way is to check your calories before eating.
Most packaged foods will have a nutrition information label attached to the packaging and that's all we need.
A typical food nutrition label will normally provide you with the serving size and the number of servings in the package. In this example, we can see that it has 9 servings in this package and each serving is 70g.
note: sometimes food companies will use more relatable units such as scoops/tea spoons etc for serving size. For eg. the following picture shows that each serving is 6 pcs and it's around 30g per serving
So before anything else, ask yourself this: how many servings am I consuming?
Say if it's a packet of cookies, and it says on the label that the pack has 10 servings. Ask yourself this: How many servings am I taking at a time? If you have half the pack, then you are really taking in 5 servings. Or if the full pack contains 10 pieces, and you took 3 pieces, then you are taking in 3 servings.
You can easily find the amount of calories per serving on the label.
Some people might find it confusing as they normally use kcal instead of Cal on the label. Don't worry too much about it as 1 kcal = 1 Cal.
So in this example, each serving has 25 kcal or Cal. If you take 5 servings at a time, you are taking in 5 * 25 Cal, which is 125 Cal.
At the end of the day, you just add up all your calorie intake.
You want to make sure throughout the day, your calorie intake is lower than your daily energy requirement.
How good is it if every meal comes with a nutrition label?
Truth is, most foods we eat out here in Malaysia will not have a nutrition label telling you how much calorie is in there.
So how do you know how much calorie you are eating in?
Luckily there is this app here called myfitnesspal.
All you have to do is to search in their extensive database and you will be able to find the information you need from them.
One thing though, the information is uploaded by individuals like you and me so sometimes it might not be accurate. For example, I tried looking for the nutritional information of Char kuey teow and I found these
Ranging from 250 to 744 Cal.
So take it with a grain of salt but at least it will give you a rough idea. For Char Kuey Teow, I would record it as 320 Cal as that seems to be the most common answer
Another good calorie counter is this food calorie counter by WebMD. Its database has more western food in it so you won't be able to find a lot of Asian Food here.
Now that you have got your calorie intake under control, we can now speed up the weight loss process by increasing your calorie output.
So let's exercise.
According to WomensHealth Magazine, here's a list of best calorie-burning exercises:
Most people would probably choose running as their primary exercise because it's the simplest - you just need a pair of running shoes.
But keep in mind one thing though:
Running is not for everyone
Running, especially sprinting can put a lot of pressure to the knee joints. If you are very overweight, maybe you should consider another exercise like cycling or swimming to help you lose weight in the beginning.
General guideline is this:
if your %body fat is >26% for men, or >32% for women, then you should consider doing other forms of exercise, like cycling, elliptical or swimming.
For example, when you are running, should you go for higher pace but shorter distance or slower pace but longer distance? Should you run for a set amount of time or should you run a set distance?
The answer: WATCH YOUR HEART RATE
Calories burnt per minute * length of time you exercise = total calories burnt per exercise session
If your exercise is too intense, you burn more calories per minute - but lactic acid builds up very quickly too. Lactic acid accumulation makes your muscles sore and decreases your overall time of exercise.
So the key is to burn calories at an intensity level that's comfortable enough for you to continue doing the exercise for 30-45 minutes.
And you can do that by watching your heart rate.
The heart rate you should be maintaining during your work out is this:
Target heart rate = 59% to 74% * Max Heart rate
Max heart rate = 220 - age
Cheok is a 33 year old man, so his max heart rate is about 220-33= 187 beats per minute
In order to lose weight, he should aim to exercise at a heart rate of 110 - 140 beats per minute for at least 30 minutes every day.
At this heart rate, the exercise should be quite comfortable.
You can easily get a smart wearable device that tells you your current heart rate or if you are using gym equipment, you should be able to get your heart rate information quite easily.
If you follow the steps above, you should be able to lose weight over time - just by being mindful about your calorie intake and output.
But if you are truly concern about your health (and not just you weight), here's one final tip on eating healthy:
55% of your calorie should come from carbohydrates, 15% from proteins and 30% from fats
When it comes to losing weight a calorie is a calorie, but when it comes to healthy dieting, a calorie from fried food and a calorie from fibre isn't the same.
Think of your body as a car engine, and food you eat as fuel. The good quality fuel will make your car function better, but low quality fuel will burden your body as it's harder to be processed into energy - eventhough they both can provide the same amount of energy.
Losing weight isn't exactly that hard once you know the science behind it. The key is really just be mindful of the calories you put in and try to increase the calories you burn everyday.
So next time when you are about to put that KFC into your stomach, just remember that that 2-piece feed meal has 637 Cal and you will need to run 60 minutes just to burn it off.
Let me know in the comments section below if you have any question or share with us if you have any other tips on weight loss.