News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 17, 2012

Chris Davies: Fewer calories + more exercise = weight loss

Chris Davies
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — Food is vital to sustaining life. Too much or too little food can negatively impact your health and eventually lead to disease that can kill you. Just enough food, coupled with consistent physical activity and the occasional splurge, can have you at a healthy weight, full of energy, and living well.

Quality and quantity of the foods you consume is important to good health and weight loss or maintenance. However, there is still only one way to lasting weight loss: consistently burn more calories than you consume. There are three ways you expend calories, but only one that you can really contribute to through exercise.

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)

RMR are the calories your body requires to exist and maintain bodily functions. RMR accounts for roughly 65 percent-75 percent of your daily calorie expenditure. Being physically fit and with significant lean muscle mass will increase RMR.

Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)

TEF are the calories required to process and digest food you consume. TEF accounts for 5 percent-10 percent of daily calorie expenditure. Forget the catabolic diets that encourage you to eat foods that require more calories to digest than they contain. They are a gimmick and ridiculous. TEF cannot be appreciably increased.  

Physical Activity Energy Expenditure (PAEE)

PAEE are the calories you expend during physical activity. These include exercise, activities of daily living, and anything else that does not have to do with metabolic functions of the body. Yes, even sex. PAEE accounts for 15 percent-30 percent of calories expended but can vary depending on the amount and intensity of activity you perform. Ironman triathletes are known to expend 8,000 to 10,000 calories each day during training and racing. That means a consumption of 12,000-15,000 calories each day just to maintain their weight and activity levels.

Weight loss is like a checking account that works in reverse. A normal checking account should have more money in it than total of checks written.  A good weight-loss program, a.k.a Weight Watchers and serious lifestyle changes, would have you bouncing checks because you would spend more than you make. Let me rephrase that: to lose weight you must expend more calories than you consume.

I understand losing weight is not easy. Some have what it takes and others do not. Let’s start by increasing our PAEE through more activity each day and eating a little less. That information alone is worth the price of all the money some have spent on weight-loss pills, potions, diets, and gimmicks bought through the years.

To keep things in perspective, you need to create a calorie deficit of approximately 3,500 calories to lose one pound. You could walk 35 miles a week to burn 3,500 calories. An easier equation would have you consuming 250 fewer calories and walking 2.5 miles each day. Your daily calorie deficit would be roughly 500. Do that for seven days and there is one pound lost. You can tinker with the equation, but when faced with a consistent and healthy deficit you will lose weight.

Get up and get moving.

Chris Davies, MS, owns Fitness Solutions, Inc. He can be reached at