The Science of Weight Loss

So you want to lose a few pounds do you? Well I’m sure many of you have heard that the key to reaching your goal weight is to eat right, exercise, and burn those unwanted calories. If it were that easy however, we would all have a perfect figure and show off that 6 pack on the beach this summer. But exactly how many calories should you be consuming and/or burning off each day to see the results you really want?

Believe it or not, the science behind weight loss is actually rather simple, even for a former Chemical Engineer like myself :). The key is burning more calories than you consume each day. It really is not any more complex than that. For every additional 3500 calories burned, you will lose one pound of body fat. Therefore, by burning an average of 500 more calories than you eat each day, you will lose about 1 pound of fat per week. But please do not be intimidated by this feat! The largest piece of ammunition you have on your side is your metabolism. Your metabolism is simply the rate at which your body naturally burns calories. While sleeping, watching TV, or even EATING, we burn calories to provide our bodies with energy.

A great tool to gauge your recommended calorie intake, is determining your Basal Metabolic Rate, also know as the BMR. The BMR is the amount of calories our bodies burn automatically, even if we have no activity in our day. Now this is not a math class, but a simple way to determine your BMR is using the Mifflin-St Jeor Equations:

BMR (For Males) = (10 x weight in kilograms) + (6.25 × height in centimeters) – (5 × age in years) + 5

BMR (For Females) = (10 × weight in kilograms) + (6.25 × height in centimeters) – (5 × age in years) – 161

Now that you have your BMR, the next step is to calculate your daily calorie needs. Get your calculator ready! Take your BMR and multiply it by one of the activity factors below. Reflect upon your day or week, and ask yourself: “How active am I?”

BMR x 1.200 = sedentary (little or no exercise)

BMR x 1.375 = lightly active (light exercise or sports 1-3 days/week)

BMR x 1.550 = moderately active (moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days/week)

BMR x 1.725 = very active (hard exercise or sports 6-7 days a week)

BMR x 1.900 = extra active (very hard exercise or sports and physical job)

Once you have estimated the daily calories you need to break even, the choice is yours: (1) Create a calorie deficit in your diet, OR (2) Increase your physical activity level. No matter which path you choose, successful weight loss is indeed possible!

Also, I always recommend HealthyWage to anyone who asks how to make their diet more effective and fun.   HealthyWage provides health incentives for everyone and makes accountability exciting.  Recent studies show that incentives increase your odds of success.  Check it out!  And keep up the good work!

Be Well,


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