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Avoid These Five Common Weight Loss Mistakes

2012-12-29 09:58

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Mistake 1: Not changing your calorie plan as you lose weight. The fallacy of the "1200 calorie diet" plans and the like.

Most people set their calorie intake at a given number and expect to keep losing weight at the same constant rate over a period of weeks. Therefore dieters look for 1000 calorie or 1800 calorie diet plans on web.

Simply put, fixed calorie diet plans don't work. If you burn 3000 calories a day at the start of your diet, after losing weight for a week or two, you are no longer burning 3000 calories. Now you might be burning just 2800 calories.

If you maintain a constant calorie intake in the face of a decreasing calorie expenditure, your weight loss will continuously slow down as you lose weight.

If you really want to lose weight at a constant rate, you repeatedly have to:

- lower your calorie intake to accommodate the calorie expenditure drop

- exercise more to increase your calorie output

- do both

It's also important to understand that you have to set realistic and slow weight loss goals. If you opt for fast weight loss, you won't be able to sustain it for a long period unless you go to an extreme in your calorie reduction and exercise plans.

For people who want to lose 20 pounds or more, the goal should be a loss of no more than 2 pounds per week. Those who need to lose just a small amount of weight should try for weight loss of 1 pound per week.

Why does our calorie expenditure drop as we lose weight? The most important factors are:

- You weigh less! A smaller, lighter body burns fewer calories both while active and at rest

- You may involuntarily burn fewer calories than you did before. Many dieters lack energy and move around less

- Calorie restriction lowers the metabolic rate

- You have less body fat, which may further suppress your metabolic rate

These important factors contribute to an ever-decreasing calorie expenditure as we lose weight. The more we cut calories, the larger our calorie expenditure drop. Also, the leaner the dieter, the greater the calorie expenditure drop.

Now you need to understand that if you want to succeed in losing weight, you first have to make changes in your nutrition plan. I recommend burning more calories because it facilitates smaller calorie restriction and a milder calorie expenditure drop.

It's extremely difficult to estimate the rate of the metabolic drop, but as a general rule, the bigger you are, the smaller the rate of the metabolic drop. The more weight you lose, the more you must cut your calorie intake or increase your level of exercise.

If you're overweight, you might need to cut 10 more calories for every pound that you lose. If you're lean on the other hand, you might need to cut 60 calories for every pound you lose. (I chose these numbers just as an example.)

Mistake 2: Overreporting the "extra" calorie expenditure of exercise

Most people prefer to count the calories they burn while exercising as "extra" calories, but there is a difference between calories burned while exercising and "extra" calories burned while exercising!

Consider this example: you burn 300 calories by walking on the treadmill instead of your usual activity (watching TV). In reality, you need to subtract the calories you would have spent watching TV from these 300 calories in order to calculate how many additional calories you have burned.

Let's say that if you watched TV you burned 80 calories. In this specific case, you have expended 300 calories while exercising, along with 220 "extra" calories.

Calorie counters often add the calories burned exercising as "extra", and in some cases this practice can significantly influence the calorie calculations. Thus, calorie software usually counts the part of your usual activities that overlaps with the extra activities twice.

How do you estimate the "extra" calories burned while exercising?

In order to increase the accuracy of the calculations, I must first introduce the concept of MET values. MET values are a convenient way to calculate the calorie expenditure of activities.

MET values are multiples of one's resting energy expenditure per time period. In plain English, MET = 3 means burning 3 times more calories than resting. MET = 1 denotes the number of calories you burn at rest (your Resting Metabolic Rate or Basal Metabolic Rate).

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