02 Feb How To Restart Weight Loss After Gastric Bypass
How is it that some people seem to have such clarity when they are on a weight loss diet? It’s as if they’ve been given an instruction and someone is telling them exactly what to do. They don’t think about it, they don’t guess, they just know.
It all comes down to a calorie budget….
In this article, we’ll show you how to set yourself up for the same success with a simple calorie budget.
Counting calories: Helpful or pointless?
You can hear your nutritionist say it:
“Keep your food log with you and fill it out every day so we can review it later.”
But why? Weight loss is hard enough as it is, adding more homework will only make it more invasive in our daily lives….
Most of us have gone through phases of calorie counting for a few weeks, then after a while we skip logging a meal here and there until we finally stop all together because it’s too much work and the scale won’t even budge.
It’s crazy when you do everything you’re supposed to do, but it doesn’t work.
Still, counting calories is one of the best habits you can develop in your post-op life, but it’s not enough to give you the weight loss you want.
Simply counting calories doesn’t give you insight into whether or not you’re eating the right amount of food each day, and ultimately, that’s what weight loss comes down to: Are the right number of calories getting into your body?
So when you log your food and reach the end of the day and lie down on your couch to assess your performance and see that you’ve consumed 1,500 calories, what does that mean?
Absolutely nothing without the proper context.
The problem people run into with counting calories is that just seeing a number of calories for a day gives no indication of whether that is too much, too little, or just the right amount.
Without a benchmark that matches your performance, you can’t assess your progress or adjust your behavior as needed.
You NEED a budget
“Yes, I know counting calories is important, but what about protein, carbs, fats, saturated fats, meal timing, keto, Paleo….”
The diet is complicated. In fact, you can make it as complicated as you want. But is that your motivation? Did you have bariatric surgery to see how fancy you could make your diet? No!
You had bariatric surgery because you have a certain idea of what you want your life to look like. We’re assuming this didn’t involve analyzing the micronutrient content of every leafy green in the produce section, or obsessing over when you should stop eating carbs, or what unnecessarily complicated strategy is popular this week.
There are other important things to watch, but that can be covered later. Right now, the focus is on total calories, which are the absolute driver of weight gain and weight loss alike.
Enter the calorie budget
No matter how clean your diet is or how long you’ve been in ketosis or how long you’ve been fasting, if your calories aren’t right, you won’t lose weight.
This is where the calorie budget comes into play. Without going into detail, I’m sure you can guess the general idea of a calorie budget.
At the fundamental level, a budget can be defined as an estimate of income and expenses for a set period of time. This sounds like a description of a personal finance budget, but it also segues into weight loss.
Income = Calories In
Expenses = Calories Out
Since a budget is designed to outline your finances by determining income and expenses, you can also prescribe the calories you consume (calories in) and you can assume the calories you consume (calories out).
For someone who intends to maintain his weight, He does not want to gain weight and he does not want to lose weight, his income must be equal to his expenses. In other words, they need to eat the same amount of calories they burned.
Here’s an example: If Sally’s body burns 1,700 calories throughout the day, she must consume about 1,700 calories to maintain her weight.
Sally’s calorie budget needs to be set at 1,700 calories so she can see the results she wants: Weight maintenance.
If she eats more, she gains weight, and if she eats less, she loses weight. On a very basic level, this is how it works….
Weight loss is a multi-faceted endeavor
“Calories in vs. calories out” is basically correct, but it completely ignores the other aspects of weight loss. Things like the psychology that goes on with dieting, the physical aspect like hunger, and the social obstacles dieting can impose.
These things are real, but they are outside the scope of this article. So, for now, let’s boil it down to a simple numbers game where it all starts:
Calories in vs. calories out is a pretty unforgiving equation in weight loss. While no one can be solely responsible for weight loss, the one thing that is responsible for plateaus or weight gain is almost always overeating over time. This includes unintentional overeating.
In fact, this article noted that people are pretty bad at estimating the calories in food.
According to the study published in the British Medical Journal, more than a quarter of people underestimated calorie content by at least 500 calories.
Underestimated by 500 calories! To put this number in perspective, one pound of fat consists of about 3,500 calories. Overeating 500 calories a day for a week would (theoretically) result in a full pound of fat.
This means that trying to lose weight by “eating clean” or “eating only healthy foods” will not work for you.
It is actually possible to gain weight on healthy food, not just junk. Remember, this article is not about nutrients that keep the body healthy. That’s all important…
But for weight loss, your body doesn’t care if it gets 1,000 calories from grilled chicken or fried chicken. The effects on body composition are the same.
Just because everyone has unique and individual caloric needs doesn’t mean everyone is incapable of overeating and under-eating in equal measure
The dangers of overeating are pretty simple: you gain weight and your body fat increases.
The dangers of under eating are malnutrition, losing weight too quickly, and losing lean body mass, to name a few
Just like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, you need to follow the right calorie budget for you and your goals and then set it as your calorie budget.
One person may need a calorie budget of 1,200 calories to lose weight. Another person may need 2,500 calories to lose weight. The big picture is this: Weight loss won’t happen if the calories consumed are greater than the calories burned over time.
Whatever your perfect number is then becomes your calorie budget, which gives context to your food protocol IMMEDIATELY. Were you over your calories, by how much? Were you under, by how much? Setting your own bar allows you to evaluate your own performance.
Setting a simple calorie goal is just the place to start. Don’t worry about tracking protein, fat, saturated fat, carbs, sodium, sugar, sugar alcohols, blah blah blah….that leads to burnout, confusion and analysis paralysis – and nothing is worse than doing nothing.
Human psychology says we are motivated by victories. So focus on one thing at first: your calorie budget. Get comfortable with that alone over the next few weeks and only then should you think about pursuing the other things.
Remember, without the right calorie goal, nothing else can affect your weight loss.