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Weight Control Information You Must Know To Succeed

This page provides you with the technical details necessary for an effective weight loss program. This is valuable weight control information you must know in order to succeed. It helps you not only during the active weight loss phase, but also long-term as you work to maintain your new lower weight.

Weight Control Information
The Caloric Value of Food:

Food contains the following digestible principles:
  • Proteins
  • Carbohydrates - further classified into simple carbohydrates (sugars) and complex carbohydrates (starches, glycogen, fiber)
  • Fats - further classified into saturated fats, unsaturated fats (mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated), and cholesterol
Once inside our organism, each food principle is either:
  • used as building blocks for various body tissues
  • stored into body deposits as reserves
  • broken down (burned) for energy needs
When burned for energy needs:
  • 1 gram of carbohydrates furnishes 4.5 kcal of energy for our body
  • 1 gram of proteins furnishes the same amount (4.5 kcal)
  • 1 gram of fat furnishes about double that amount (9.3 kcal)

The body's main sources of energy are carbohydrates and fats, while proteins are used mainly as structural components in various body tissues.

Weight Control Information
The Mechanism of Weight Gain:

As shown above, fats provide a significantly higher energy amount to our body than either proteins or carbohydrates. However, our body has more difficulty burning fats than burning carbohydrates. Therefore, the body will turn first and foremost to carbohydrates as a source of ready energy. If enough carbohydrates are available, the body will not burn fats for energy. Instead, it will store them as fat deposits in adipose tissues, to be used in the event carbohydrates run out. If carbohydrates continue to be available in abundance, the fat deposits are never used up, and more fats continue to be stored in these deposits. This is, in essence, the mechanism of weight gain (accumulation of fat deposits).

Weight Control Information
Dynamics of Weight Loss:

The dynamics of weight loss is nothing else than the sequence of events leading to weight loss. In other words, the metabolic processes that enable our body to shift its equilibrium in the negative and go into fat-burning mode. Once we understand this mechanism, we will use it to devise a targeted weight loss plan, based on creating the necessary calorie deficit to sustain weight loss.

First of all, here's the fundamental law of weight control:


The Calorie Intake represents the calories we introduce in our body via food and drink.
The Calorie Output represents the calories burned for energy purposes (to sustain biological body functions and to enable our daily activities).

The formula above tells you the following:

  • If the Calorie Intake exceeds Calorie Output (i.e., more calories are introduced into the body than burned), the Change in Body Weight will be a positive number, i.e. weight gain will occur.
  • On the other hand, if the Calorie Output exceeds Calorie Input (i.e., more calories are burned than introduced into the body), the Change in Body Weight will be a negative number, i.e. weight loss will occur.
  • If the Calorie Intake is equal to Calorie Output, the Change in Body Weight will be zero, i.e. the current weight will be maintained.

Weight Control Information

A person's Daily Calorie Requirement is the number of calories that need to be introduced into the body each day in order to maintain current weight.



The term "Calorie Deficit" refers to the situation when Calorie Output exceeds Calorie Intake.


Whenever we create a Calorie Deficit, the result will be weight loss.
So, in order to loose weight, the goal is to create a reasonable Daily Calorie Deficit, which is sustainable long-term. We will now illustrate how to accomplish this:

First, let's establish our Daily Calorie Requirement based on our current weight, i.e. how many calories we need to ingest each day in order to maintain our current weight. This is given by the formula:


The Basal Metabolism represents the calories required for biological body functions (such as breathing, cardiac activity, nervous conduction, cellular processes, etc). In other words, the calories we must ingest just to stay alive, in the absence of all physical activity. This calorie contingent can be calculated as follows:


For example, if a person's weight is 200 lbs, that person must take in 2,000 calories just to keep up his or her Basal Metabolism.

In addition to our Basal Metabolism (biological body functions), we also perform various activities of daily living, ranging from minimal to strenuous physical effort. These activities of daily living require an additional number of calories to be burned.
As a rough approximation:

  • A sedentary person will burn about 200 additional calories per day (for daily activities).
  • A person engaging in mild physical activity will burn about 400 additional calories per day
  • A person engaging in moderate physical activity will burn about 600 additional calories per day.
  • A person engaging in strenuous physical activity will burn in excess of 800 additional calories per day.
Please note: These figures may vary among individuals based on age, gender, muscle mass, medical conditions, etc.

Back now to our formula:


And, since BASAL METABOLISM = 10 X CURRENT WEIGHT (lbs), it follows that:


This is the formula we will use to calculate our Daily Calorie Requirement: We will simply multiply our current weight (in pounds) times 10, then add the number of calories corresponding to our level of activity.

For example:
If Jane's current weight is 200 lbs, then Jane's Basal Metabolism will burn about 2,000 calories per day. Let's say Jane only engages in mild physical activity throughout the day (e.g. walking at the office or through the house, shopping, and cooking). With these activities, Jane will be burning about 400 additional calories per day.

  • So, in order to maintain her current weight of 200 pounds, Jane's Daily Calorie Requirement is 2,000 + 400 = 2,400 calories per day (approximate figure).
  • If Jane eats these 2,400 calories each day and continues her current lifestyle, it is to be expected Jane's weight will remain unchanged.
  • If, on the other hand, Jane eats less than 2,400 calories per day or increases her level of physical activity, she will be incurring a Calorie Deficit and will start loosing weight.

The question that arises is:
What is a reasonable Calorie Deficit? In other words, how much of a Calorie Deficit should we attempt to create for effective weight loss? Remember, a calorie deficit that is too great will not be sustainable long-term, simply because it triggers too much hunger and fatigue.

Based on my personal experience, I consider a Calorie Deficit of 500-1,000 calories per day to be feasible and sustainable. Out of the total calorie deficit, I believe no more than 500-600 calories should be achieved via food restriction, while the rest up to 1,000 may be achieved via exercise (if the person is capable of exercising).

Weight Control Information
Timeline of Weight Loss:

One of the main questions when starting a weight loss program is: "How long will it take to achieve my target weight?"

To answer this question, here's what you must know:


So therefore:

  • If you create a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day, you will loose 1 pound of dry body weight in approximately 1 week (6 days).
  • If you create a calorie deficit of 1,000 calories per day, you will loose 1 pound of dry weight in approximately half a week (3 days), which means you can loose approximately 2 pounds per week.

So I would say that a reasonable weight loss goal is to loose 1-2 pounds of dry body weight per week.
The term "dry body weight" refers to weight coming from dry body substance, such as fat and occasionally muscle. (Unfortunately, when loosing weight by diet alone, only part of the weight lost will come from fat, with the rest coming from muscle.)

Weight Control Information
About Fluid Losses:
When we talk about weight loss, we are not taking into account weight fluctuations due to loss of body fluids (water). Water losses may sometimes be significant and may amount to several pounds per day. Such weight swings, beyond being unsafe for our health, do not count as actual weight loss. The goal is to loose body fat, not water.
You have probably encountered advertisements of the type: "Loose 20 pounds in 2 weeks". You should be aware that these weight loss products, if at all effective, rely heavily on water losses. Otherwise, it is simply impossible to alter the equilibrium of the body so drastically in such a short time (except maybe in major life-threatening illnesses when the organism becomes "catabolic", i.e. starts burning off all its reserves in the fight for survival).

So, one fact we must accept prior to embarking on a weight loss program is:
Loosing weight safely takes time.
You can calculate exactly how much time by dividing the number of pounds you intend to loose by your weekly weight loss goal (1-2 pounds). The result of this calculation represents the number of weeks it will take you to achieve your target weight (considering, of course, you stick with your plan).

For example, if you intend to loose 42 pounds and set your weekly weight loss goal at 2 pounds, your time to target weight should be 42 divided by 2, which is 21 weeks (a little less than 5 months).

Weight Control Information
Let's recapitulate:

  • If we reduce our food intake by 500 calories per day, without altering our physical activity level, we are likely to loose about 1 pound per week.
  • Larger dietary cutbacks may be difficult to sustain, so it's probably wise to leave it at that.
  • To loose more than 1 pound per week, we can use exercise to burn additional calories.
    If we burn another 500 calories per day by exercising, we are likely to loose a total of 2 pounds per week
  • Adding exercise also ensures that the weight lost comes mainly from fat. Otherwise, by dieting alone, both fat and muscle mass are lost. Exercise (especially strength training/muscle toning), builds up muscle mass, such that the dry weight we loose is mostly fat.

Note: It's always prudent to consult with your physician prior to starting a new exercise program.

When embarking on a weight loss program that includes dieting and exercise, the following phenomenon may occur: At first, your weight may not change much, but you may see your body shaping up and fat deposits melting away. This is because exercise builds muscle mass, and muscle weighs more than fat. So, when you step on the scale, the fat lost is "compensated" by the lean muscle you've built. This is a good thing, and lean muscle is quite shapely and attractive in both males and females. Also, muscle burns plenty of calories just to stay alive, so by building muscle you are actually increasing your Basal Metabolism. I.e., you are continuing to burn more calories even after you stopped exercising.

Weight Control Information
In Summary:

Here's how to implement what we discussed so far: (see concrete illustration)

  1. Find your normal weight range in the Weight/Height Table, then pick a number inside this normal weight range and make it your target weight. (Whether you shoot for the high end or low end of the normal range is entirely up to you.)
  2. Calculate your Daily Calorie Requirement at your current weight (i.e., how many calories you would need to eat in order to maintain your current weight).
    Here's the formula you need for this calculation: Daily Calorie Requirement = 10 x Current Weight (lbs) + Calories required for Activities of Daily Living
  3. Deduct 500 calories from the number above. The number you obtain represents your Daily Calorie Allowance (i.e., the number of calories you may eat each day), in order to create an appropriate calorie deficit and start loosing weight.
  4. Add exercise if possible (aiming to burn up to 500 additional calories per day)
  5. Monitor your progress weekly: You should be loosing 1-2 pounds per week. So, after 2 months,
    you should have lost at least 8-16 pounds.
  6. At that point, recalculate your Daily Calorie Requirement based on your new lower weight (using the same formula as above). Your new Daily Calorie Requirement will be lower than last time by 80-160 calories (depending on the number of pounds you have lost). Note: If you are exercising as part of your weight loss program, do not include this exercise under "Calories required for Activities of Daily Living".)
  7. Deduct 500 calories from your new Daily Calorie Requirement. This is your new Daily Calorie Allowance (i.e., the number of calories you may eat each day), in order to continue loosing weight at the same rate. As you can see, your Daily Calorie Allowance is now slightly lower.
  8. Respect your new Daily Calorie Allowance, and continue exercising as before.
  9. After another 2 months, recalculate your Daily Calorie Requirement once more, based on your current (lower) weight, and deduct 500 calories from this number to establish your new Daily Calorie Allowance.
  10. Continue this algorithm until you reach your Target Weight. At that point, calculate your Daily Calorie Requirement based on your target weight. This will become your Daily Calorie Allowance for Weight Maintenance (the number of calories you may eat each day in order to maintain your ideal weight).

Please note:
Once you have reached Target Weight, you must consider the calories burned by your daily exercise as "Calories required for Activities of Daily Living", and include them in the calculation of your "Daily Calorie Requirement". In other words, the calories you burn exercising must be replenished in order for you to maintain weight. At this point, there is no longer a need to create a calorie deficit.

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Please keep in mind that the numbers presented above are average estimates, and that individual weight loss curves may vary. Multiple factors may intervene, including one's age, gender, prior physical fitness and muscle mass, medical conditions, environmental factors, and individual genetic factors.
At times, accelerated weight loss may take place, especially in obese people after the initial period of 'jumpstarting' the weight loss process. At other times, weight loss may slow down significantly, hitting a stubborn weight plateau.
The closer one gets to his or her target weight, the higher the likelihood of hitting such a weight plateau. In fact, this is our organism letting us know that it needs time to adapt prior to loosing more weight. As such, a weight plateau of 2-3 weeks is normal and should be allowed (without further dietary cutbacks or increases in exercise level). If the weight plateau persists longer than 3 weeks, here are a few ways to break it:

  • Go up slightly on the intensity or duration of your exercise.
  • Switch to new exercise routines of similar difficulty. Whenever faced with new unfamiliar conditions, the body tends to become "confused" and burn more calories.
    In exercise, this phenomenon is called "muscle confusion". Muscle confusion can be used to achieve a higher calorie burn without increasing exercise intensity.
  • Modify the content of your diet short-term, while maintaining the same calorie intake. This will confuse your metabolism into burning more calories (see food pyramid variations).

Weight Control Information
Calorie Facts:

The weight loss algorithm discussed on this page is based upon counting your calories and not overshooting your Daily Calorie Allowance. This presupposes you possess some knowledge of the caloric content of food, and do not shy away from counting calories. In essence, these are the 2 requirements you must meet:

  • You must be able to approximate the calorie content of a meal. In order to do so, you may find it helpful to read our chapters on Portion Control and Portion Size.
  • You must faithfully count all food items you ingest during the day, including prepackaged items such as snacks, towards your Daily Calorie Allowance. Please note: For prepackaged food items, the calorie content and serving size are noted on the package label under Nutrition Facts - so you must learn to read this information.

Note: Knowledge of the calorie content of food will help you determine what foods to eliminate from your diet to achieve a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day. For instance, 2 slices of pizza bring in 500-700 calories. 3 cans of regular coke bring in 450 calories. 2 restaurant size margaritas bring in close to 700 calories. Knowing what items in your diet are most caloric will allow you eliminate those items from your diet.

Weight Control Information
Exercise Facts:

Below are a few examples of exercises that can burn 500 calories per day:
  • General Aerobics for 60 minutes
  • Stationary Bicycling at 200 W (vigorous effort) for 40 minutes
  • Running at 6.5 MPH for 40 minutes
  • Walking briskly (at 5 MPH) for 50 minutes
  • Body building exercises for 50 minutes
  • Tae Bo (vigorous exercise) for 40 minutes
  • Aerobics combined with weight lifting (vigorous exercise) for 40 minutes

Please note that the above are just examples. In reality, you don't have to burn 500 calories per day. Any amount of exercise will count towards your weight loss goals. 300 calories burned per day is just fine. Actually, it is advisable to start out slowly, with exercises of lower intensity. This decreases your risk of injury, and allows your body to adapt to the new conditions. In time, after seeing how you react to exercise, you may increase intensity as tolerated. From my own experience, I can tell you that nothing is more frustrating than an exercise-related injury just as you are starting to loose weight.


It is my hope the weight control information on this page proves helpful and makes the weight loss process a bit easier to master. As always, you can count on Med-Solver to provide you with the most pertinent and up-to-date weight control information.




Return from "Weight Control Information" to Home Page




Weight Control Information
The Caloric Value of Food

Weight Control Information
The Mechanism of Weight Gain

Weight Control Information
Dynamics of Weight Loss

Weight Control Information
Timeline of Weight Loss

Weight Control Information

Weight Control Information
Calorie Facts

Weight Control Information
Exercise Facts





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