Us humans have a habit of wanting things now. We don't want to wait. We want results like yesterday. That's usually the case for people on a weight loss plan. Most of our clients start like that and realize that consistency is more critical to their long-term success than how fast they lose body fat.
Why is It Hard to Set Realistic Fat Loss Expectations?
Unfortunately, the media is full of advertisements that promise quick fat loss by following super restrictive fad diets and strenuous workout plans. No wonder people believe everybody must be able to lose weight fast and keep it off.
Some women have unrealistic expectations because they've been told a specific weight loss goal, like losing 7 lbs in 7 days, is attainable by following a super restrictive diet. Others think if they eat a little less and exercise a bit more, they are automatically going to lose 6 lbs within their first week. Both expectations can cause disappointment and a sense of failure, resulting in giving up your weight loss goals. We aim to show you how to find what is realistic for your unique body and circumstances.
Let's do Some Math
First, we like to educate our clients, so they understand how their body works and the reasoning behind the recommendations they receive. Even if you don't work with a personal trainer, you'll be better off researching and learning about daily calorie intake, calorie deficit, and the secret to consistently losing weight.
Lesson 1. Basal / Resting Metabolic Rate
How many calories you burn per day at rest will depend on a number of metrics, but luckily, you don't have to learn complicated equations because the internet provides help in the form of a range of calculators. We'll still clarify a few things so you can understand how it all links together.
BMR stands for Basal Metabolic Rate, the number of calories your body would burn if you'd lie flat on a bed all day.
Your RMR, Resting Metabolic Rate, shows how many calories your body burns daily at rest. BMR and RMR are often used interchangeably mainly because both are estimates and make Math easier.
This is the equation for women:
10 × weight (in kilograms) + 6.25 × height (in centimeters) – 5 × age (in years) – 161
So, a 40-year-old woman who weighs 180 lbs (81.6kg) and is 5 foot 7 inches tall (170cm) will burn around 1517 calories daily at rest.
Lesson 2. Calorie Deficit
Let's stick to the example from lesson 1. If this lady, let's call her Monica, would like to lose weight, she'll have to achieve a calorie deficit and maintain it until she hits her goal weight.
Two things can help Monica be in a calorie deficit:
If the goal is to lose 1 lb per week, Monica will have to achieve a 500-calorie deficit per day. Now, if she wanted to do that simply by dieting, she'd need to eat a maximum of 1017 calories per day. Remember, we still need to consider activity levels. At this point, Monica doesn't exercise at all.
Lesson 3. Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)
The Total Daily Energy Expenditure is more exciting and relevant because it considers your BMR and activity levels and calculates your daily calorie burn in a realistic scenario.
So, let's do some Maths again. Let's say Monica has a sedentary job but to counteract that, she trains 3-4 times per week, doing moderate to intense workouts that include resistance training and cardio.
Using the TDEE calculator, we added all her metrics and chose 'Moderate Exercise' for activity levels. The result is that Monica's so-called 'maintenance calorie intake' is around 2,350 calories per day.
This is great news because now, if we wanted to adjust her food intake for a 1lb per week weight loss, she could still eat 1850 calories daily.
Lesson 4. Is a 500-calorie reduction realistic for everyone?
I think you already know the answer. No, it isn't. At Pello Fitness, we pride ourselves in not providing cookie-cutter solutions, and we tailor the program to the individual.
What if Monica was 60 years old, only 165cm(5'5") tall and had an injury that stopped her from doing intense exercise for months? She might be able to go walking or swimming, but nothing to truly challenge her muscles.
Using the same TDEE calculator, we get a 1664 daily calorie burn for 60-year-old Monica. If she tried to cut 500 calories to lose 1lb of weight per week, she'd need to eat 1164 calories per day which is super low for her frame and would most likely result in a binge.
Lesson 5. What is a reasonable amount of weight to lose per week?
When deciding how much weight someone should lose per week, you need to look at their body weight and determine a reasonable calorie deficit.
If someone is only burning approximately 1,600 calories per day on average because they are perhaps older, inactive, or short, it will not make sense to put them on a 1 lb per week deficit, as they would only be consuming 1,100 calories.
Instead, it is best to keep their calorie deficit at a 20-25% calorie reduction. So, the lowest food intake we'd recommend is 1,200 calories for a person only burning 1,600 calories. Yes, the net weight loss would be less than 1 lb per week, but this is the reality of the situation and being realistic is critical.
How to set realistic fat loss expectations for yourself?
As a ballpark figure for realistic and healthy weight loss for the average woman can be set to 1lb per week. Some might be able to lose more than that, but others may need to realize that they may only lose 0.5 lbs per week.
If you want to get realistic about what you can expect, do the Math we detailed above or feel free to get in touch for a chat about your goals.