Weight Loss Essentials- Understanding Your Energy Balance

Have you been on a quest to lose those extra pounds? It’s fairly easy to lose weight if you are 30 or more pounds over weight.  Its not as easy as the amount you want to lose becomes smaller.  Put this information in use today to start your journey to better health!

I hated to make today’s blog so lengthy, however this information is vital for healthy, long-term weight loss.

I will be using the terms below in this blog, get familiar with them.

Glucose= carbohydrates converted into blood sugar

Glycogen=glucose that is stored in muscle cells and the liver for later energy needs

Triglycerides=excess glucose, dietary fats and unused proteins converted into body fat

BMR= basal metabolic rate

EER= estimated energy requirements

TER= total energy required

One principle many people overlook is their calories in/calories burned factor.  If you do not know how many calories you need to consume per day to maintain your weight or more importantly how many calories you should consume to lose weight, it would be like driving your car on a long trip to a place you have never been with your gas gauge and odometer broken.  The gas gauge represents your calories needed and the odometer represents how many calories you are burning.  Without these facts you are totally relying on luck and a guess to not end up stranded on the roadside. With your body it can mean unhealthy weight loss or even weight gain.

Calories are very important ( so are the type, another blog). They provide energy and valuable nutrients. Our bodies depend on nutrients to turn the fuel (food we eat) into energy. Carbohydrates, fats and to a lesser degree proteins are used as fuel. The body really loves carbohydrates and fat for fuel. Our brains will only use glucose or glycogen (glucose that is stored in the liver and muscle cells) for fuel. Most people will need approximately 100 grams of carbohydrate each day to meet the brains demands.  The blend of fuel type our cells use depends on the demands at that given moment.  Muscle cells will use primarily glucose and glycogen for anaerobic activity and primarily dietary and triglyceride fats for aerobic activity.  During both aerobic and anaerobic metabolism the muscle cells will always burn a ratio of all three fuel types.  The intensity of the physical activity dictates the ratio of  glucose, fat and protein. It is important to maintain a good dietary ratio between your carbohydrate, fat and protein intake for your particular lifestyle.  If you do not consume enough carbohydrate the body will burn the protein for brain fuel robbing your body of protein needed to make and repair tissues, enzymes, white blood cells, red blood cells, hormones, hair,  finger nails and antibodies.  If you continue to under consume carbohydrates the body will also break apart muscle and organs to convert the protein into glucose. This is highly inefficient and causes ketones ( COMPOUNDS THAT HARM THE BODY)to be released into the blood. The over consumption of protein is also harmful for the body.
To determine your protein requirements refer to the previous document.
So lets say you need to lose 30 pounds. Where do you start? I am going to assume you know that 1 pound of body weight represents 3500 calories.   If you want to lose 1 pound per week, then you would need to burn 3500 more calories than you consumed that week.  Are you still with me?  To know how many calories you body needs daily, we need to calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR), the amount of energy your body uses at rest.  We then apply the Harris Benedict equation to determine your estimated energy requirement (EER) based on the your daily activity level.  We then add the two together to get the estimated actual number of calories you burn per day. Thankfully there are calculators on the web that will estimate these numbers for you.  These are estimates.  I have found most of them to overstate the number of calories actually needed by approximately 10%.   I have two links for you at the end of this blog that will do the math for you.  I think you will find them helpful.
Now that you can determine the number of calories you need daily to meet your energy requirements, you need to be able to track the number of calories per day you are consuming. There are a number of web-sites that offer free food journals. For the first 90 to 120 days you should count your calories, fat grams, protein grams, sugar grams, sodium grams and fiber grams every day.
Studies have shown that people who use food journals on a daily basis lose weight and keep it off a higher percentage of the time.
You can load a tool bar calorie counter and online food journal at www.fatsecret.com it is very easy to use.  I really like it because  it is very convenient to access from my toolbar. It will also allow you to add custom foods to the data base. This means that if you like a certain food that is not in their database you can add it to the database for everyone to use as well.
I recommend, never losing more than two pounds per week unless under the supervision of an appropriate health professional.  Studies show that losing weight quicker than two pounds per week increases your chance of  is regaining the weight.  It also means you are consuming less nutrients that are present in those calories. This can cause bodily harm due to a lack of nutrients.
  • shoot for consuming 500 calories less per day, try eating 250 calories less and exercising away 250 extra calories.
  • never consume less that 1200 calories per day unless under the supervision of a health professional.  This will put the body in starvation mode forcing your body to conserve energy and actually store extra fat. Not only will it stop the weight loss it can cause you to gain weight.  Let’s say your BMR is 1500 calories, then you will need to exercise the extra 200 calories so you do not drop your calories under 1200 but still bank those 500 calories per day towards your 1 pound per week of weight loss. I have many clients that ask for my help that are consuming 600 to 1000 calories per day and can’t seem to lose weight.  They just don’t understand that just like you have a household budget to maintain a certain lifestyle.  Your body also has a calorie budget to meet the demands you place on it.  If your income is reduced  by 30 percent, you must start to reduce your spending by 30%. Your body’s total energy requirements (TER) represent your household budget, Your income represents your calorie intake.  When consuming fewer calories than the body needs,  the body has no choice but to reduce its internal processes. Life support functions and processes are the priority. Extra energy and fat metabolism are reduced.  Like wise if your body gets accustomed to getting plenty of calories to meet its daily calorie budget it will begin to spend those extra calories towards energy for mental and physical activity, immune and hormonal processes, the repair and building of muscle and organs etc….  Like wise, if you believed your bank account had plenty of money, you are naturally going to spend more right? By meeting your BMR you body knows it can satisfy its basic needs and does not have to conserve energy or store fat for life support when the famine arrives. Your behavior of cutting calories too much makes your body think starvation is near. Feed your body a generous amount of nutrient dense foods and your body will be happy to spend extra calories in the form of stored fat.
  • Drink plenty of water,  fat metabolism is dependent on hydrolysis, which is the breaking down of fatty acids for use in the body.
  • Exercise often, if you are just starting, begin with walking. Start slow then when you are able include resistance training to build muscle and interval training to build a stronger lungs and heart. This increases fitness.
  • make sure you are getting at least  30 or more grams of fiber per day.  Fiber is very filling, keeps our intestines clean and absorbs some fat. Refer to this list for high fiber foods.
  • limit the intake of processed and refined foods, not only are they poor sources of nutrients they actually rob our bodies of nutrients
  • eat highly nutritious foods,  check out www.whfoods.com
  • cut your salt intake, it makes your body retain fluids
  • eliminate foods with added sugars
  • eliminate refined grains and flours, use only whole grains
  • reduce your intake of saturated fats, they should provide no more than 10% of your daily calories
  • use the tools below to determine your calorie needs

Advanced BMR/EER Calculator


Simple BMR/EER calculator


Body Analysis Calculator


Calories Burned by Activity Type

I hope you now understand how to determine your calorie needs and the way to monitor your calorie intake and the calories you burn daily.

Wally’s Daily Dose

The information contained in this blog is not medical advice. Never stop taking prescriptions or stop following the advice and directions of your doctor. Always seek the advice of your doctor when making diet or health related changes to your lifestyle particularly if you have health challenges.When beginning a diet or exercise routine always consult with your doctor first. The information contained in this document is not intended to be and should not be considered medical advice.

Obesity, You Can Beat It

obesity-epidemic rates 2004
obesity-epidemic rates 2004

I was once a morbidly obese person.  Thank you God, the bonds of my obesity were literally eaten and walked off.  If you are obese or overweight, I am urging you to take a step today to change your life.  If you don’t, I can promise you that it will shorten your life by years.  Sure 15 or 20 extra pounds  isn’t going to impact your health as much as 100 pounds of extra fat will. However, that extra 20 pounds will, if you are consuming a nutrient poor diet and not getting enough exercise.

This week, I watched Losing it with Jillian Michaels. I try to watch it every week as well as the biggest loser when it is on. I am cheering hard for their success.  Jillian’s show gets down to the dynamics of family life and the effect obesity has on everyone; spouses, children, aunts and uncles, even neighbors and friends.  I will tell you, playing with my grand children is the greatest reward I could receive.  Before the weight loss I could only sit and watch them play.  People that know me will tell you I am not the type of person to sit and watch. My weight loss has given me my life back.  Obesity is a type of imprisonment within your own body.  I f you are overweight or obese, I want to empower you with the knowledge to lose all the weight you want to lose and be healthy!

Do you know what the number one killer in America is? How about lifestyle choices which include diet and activity . This includes heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure.

If you are overweight I want you to know that you can lose that weight and keep it off. I know you are shaking your head saying I have tried and tried and tried again and I lose some weight and then life bucks me off the diet and I gain it back. I went though those thoughts too and tried a lot of diets. I literally dieted my way to almost 450 pounds. I have walked in your shoes and I have succeeded at losing over 200 pounds and kept it off.  I must tell you, I enjoy eating today more that ever.

Please listen to me, believe me,  you can lose the extra weight you are carrying. A lot of my clients use the same excuses I did.  I blamed my genes, my ex-wife,  my schedule, stress from work even bad luck.  Genetics only go so far. Science has shown repeatedly  that our lifestyle choices can trump genetics a majority of the time.  We all have people, schedules and jobs that stress us. There are no acceptable excuses to neglect our health.

There is no shortcut or pill for weight loss.  If there was, I would have found it.  Surgery should always be the last option. You will have to make huge sacrifices once you have your stomach stabled or banded. The answer is to discovery why you have gained the weight and then to correct it.  You must learn how to eat and live a healthy lifestyle.

How to get started, read this document and understand that just reading a manual or word document isn’t the answer. We must tailor the information in this document for your unique situation. I promise, you will not be hungry or deprived any foods.

It requires a warriors attitude! You must declare war on your fat! You must make slow gradual changes and understand it takes time. We want you to lose no more than 2 pounds per week.

If you want my help just ask .

Healthy Wishes

Wally’s Daily Dose

If I Can Do It, You Can Too!

In November of 2005 I was almost twice the size I am now.  At my heaviest I weighed close to 450 lbs. I did not set out to lose over 200 pounds beginning that November.  I was busy researching products, strategies and theories  to help my wife battle her fibromyalgia, IBS, depression, brain fog and anxiety. I was busy in my career as a buyer for a large Fortune 1000 company and was through trying to help myself.  Yo-yo dieting over two decades pushed me to almost 450 pounds.  And as you can imagine, I had high blood pressure, heart palpitations, diabetes, severe sleep apnea and terrible arthritis. Fortunately,  I did not have high cholesterol or high triglycerides. Looking back today, I can clearly see I was a few feet from the edge of a cliff that represented my very fast spiral to early death if my life style changed had not happened. I give God all the praise for my health revival. He presented an opportunity and I had no choice but to say show me the way.  I am no longer diabetic,  I no longer have high blood pressure and heart palpitations,  my sleep apnea is gone and my arthritis is seldom noticed.

If you think you can’t do it, you can. You must believe it is possible.  I f I can do anyone can.  I am hear to tell you, have hope, you can do this.  If I can do it, so can you!  Think healthy, envision yourself at the weight and level of health you want.  Healthy thoughts lead to healthy actions.

This story is entirely to long for this blog, you can read in its entirety in a few weeks on our website. However I want to tell you enough so you can see that if I changed my health by making small simple changes, well, you can too.   Improving one’s health does not require you to have a masters in nutrition. It requires a desire for change, some knowledge in nutrition,( seek guidance from those qualified in the area of health you wish to improve) the patience and fortitude to reach your goals regardless of the obstacles.  You must become a health warrior!

I would lose 30 pounds and gain 40 pounds back once the diet was over and I resumed my old behavior.  I repeated this process many times and tried every popular diet you can name. Diets do not work if you want to keep the weight off. Why change back to the behavior that took you to the problems you are trying to change?  For health to become a constant in our lives, we must adopt healthy lifestyle practices.

I can tell you with certainty that small changes made to your lifestyle over several months will lead to permanent lifestyle changes if you have a desire for change.  If you make the changes too quickly it can sabotage your success.

Enough of my rambling, let’s get down to real information you can put to work. I am going to give you an abbreviated list today. I highly urge you to see a nutritionist or dietitian to educate you in nutrition so you can do your own meal planning. You will be much more successful learning how to plan for yourself or other family members.  You should see a personal trainer to learn how to exercise properly.   Get education from those qualified in their respective fields. As a nutritionist I am not going to give you specific instruction for working out.  Personal trainers should not give specific nutritional information unless they qualified to do so.  I say this because the Biggest Loser has set the stage for rapid weight loss. To lose more than 2 pounds per week can be unsafe and not effective for long-term healthy weight loss.  I see this a lot. People want the quick fix just like I did. It seldom works for long term weight loss.  What ever healthy lifestyle routine you develop, it should be one you can do forever. Even if you think you know nutrition,( I hear this all he time) it is best to seek guidance.  Things are not always as they seem.

Later this week in the next blog I will give more details for weight loss and healthy living.  Lets get you started with this for today.

  • Eat 6 times per day, 3 meals  and 3 snacks. This helps keep blood sugar balanced, which is critical for the control of cravings.
  • Try to trade a few unhealthy food choices for healthier ones this week. Do not attempt to make a lot of changes this week.
  • Stay away from breads, cereals, crackers and pastries made with enriched flours and added sugars, they turn to blood sugar quickly creating cravings.
  • Drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water daily, more if you sweat profusely.  You can’t metabolize fat and create energy effectively without adequate water stores in your body. If you are 150 lbs. you would drink 75 ounces of fluids daily.
  • Eat breakfast, it is very important to eat something at least 45 minutes after waking.  Regardless what you eat, it should contain protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.
  • Never deprive yourself of food if you really want it. Deprivation leads to failure. Just ask yourself, is this choice good for me or bad for me.
  • Walk or do some form of aerobic exercise at least 30 minute every day, longer if you can. Exercise should include strength straining. If you have not exercised in a long time or are in poor health, start slowly, get professional advice from a personal trainer and clearance from you doctor.

Always tell your doctor before making diet and lifestyle changes. Get your doctors approval before doing  any strenuous exercise if you have health issues.  Never stop taking medications unless directed to do so by your doctor.

If you do nothing but these 7 suggestions, you are well on your way to a healthier life.

Wally’s Daily Dose

Your Lifestyle, Your Health

Several weeks ago, Brian Williams reported on NBC Nightly News that 45% of Americans suffer from one of potentially three major life threatening conditions; high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.   In addition, he also reported that recent studies show that living an unhealthy lifestyle can cost you 12 years of life.

What they don’t report is that once you have one of the three conditions you highly increase your risk for developing the remaining two conditions.  A report by The Center for Science in the Public Interest in 2008 reported that 210,560,000 Americans suffered from diseases related to diet and lifestyle. That is over 63% of the US population.

The description defining an unhealthy lifestyle according to Brian Williams is, drinking too much, a lack of exercise, smoking and poor diet.  This description reflects the lifestyle of most Americans.  This has to change.

Studies reported in 2008 stated that only 11% of Americans consumed the recommendation of 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits per day.  Remember that the 5 a day campaign is the minimum recommendation of vegetable and fruit intake by the National Institutes of Health for preventing some diseases. This means that 89% of the American population is at further risk for obesity, cancers, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke.

Sadly many people don’t care.  In my practice as a Nutritionist, I have clients tell me that they would prefer to die younger allowing them to eat and live they way they wish.  They will take their medication to manage their disease and forego any lifestyle changes.  Do you know of any medication that does not have some negative consequences?     Why not make a few simple lifestyle changes?

What they do not realize, until it is too late, is their life may be cut short and the quality of their life in most cases is significantly diminished. For example diabetics are at risk for nerve damage which causes neuropathy leading to amputations, or their vision is damaged leading to blindness or the heart or kidneys begin to fail or the arterial damage caused by the excess blood sugar causes atherosclerosis leading to cardiovascular and heart disease and even stroke.  Diabetes can be a very slow and agonizing death.

So please eat your vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Get more active and exercise your body. Limit your consumption of alcohol to no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 for women and please quit smoking.

Your body will love you for it and reward you with less illness, a higher quality of life and possibly an extra 12 years!   I don’t want to watch life from the sidelines I want to play and enjoy everything life has to offer. How about you?

Healthy Wishes

Wally’s Daily Dose

Sugar and Your Health Part II

Slow Acting Poison

The average American now consumes over 170 lbs of sugar per year.  At the beginning of the 20th century, the average American consumed less than 10 pounds per year.  The rise in the intake of sugar over the past 20 years has created almost epidemic levels of diabetes, obesity and heart disease.  Unless we get the intake of sugar under control, the percentage of Americans suffering from lifestyle related disease and illness will continue to climb. Sugar is not the only food ingredient that is causing us problems; it is however close to being the worse, if not the worse.

A new study recently published in Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that sugar intake significantly contributes to illness and specifically increases cholesterol levels.

Researchers at Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta examined the added sugar intake and blood fat levels in more than 6,100 adults.

  • Study participants consumed an average of 21.4 teaspoons of added sugars a day, or more than 320 calories a day from these sources.
  • The study also revealed, that people with the higher intakes of added sugars were more likely to have lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and higher levels of triglycerides, which studies have shown to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

The American Heart Association is recommending that women get no more than 6.5 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day and men get no more than 9.5 teaspoons (38 grams) per day.

  • A Dairy Queen Blizzard has 26 teaspoons (124 grams) of sugar
  • A 20 oz. Pepsi has 17.5 teaspoons (70 grams) of sugar
  • A 1.7 ounce bag of M%M Peanuts has 8 teaspoons (32 grams) of sugar

How do we cut out the excess sugar?

The first step is to read the food labels on the foods we eat. Look at the Nutritional Label. Check the area under carbohydrates; you will see fiber then sugar. If the amount of sugar is more than 5 grams per serving I would read the ingredient section to see where the sugar was coming from.  If they are from added sugars I would seriously consider looking for a healthier choice with less sugar.

Some people may be addicted to sugar. Most doctors do know believe that sugar is addictive and it may not be, however the physiological response from a quick rise in blood sugar is a corresponding quick drop in blood sugar that creates a craving for sugars to get the blood sugar back to a healthy level again.  This is a vicious cycle that some people  may find hard to break. It takes about a week of eliminating added sugars from the daily diet to break it. If you do try it cold turkey, expect a headache and fatigue for a couple of days. Now you are free of the sugar cycle!

Partial list of added sugars

  • Beet Sugar, Brown Sugar, Cane Sugar, Confectioner’s Sugar, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Demerera, Dextrose, Granulated Sugar, Grape Sugar, Molasses, Muscavado Sugar, Raw Sugar, Refined Sugar, Sucrose, Table Sugar, Turbinado Sugar, White Sugar, Maple Syrup

Honey and molasses are natural and a better choice however they still cause a quick rise in blood sugar.

In my opinion the best choices for home use are stevia, xylitol and d-ribose (a sugar that produces more energy with very little blood sugar impact)

When shopping for foods, absolutely avoid high fructose corn syrups and limit the amount of added sugars to less than 10% of your daily calories. Based on this percentage, a 2000 calorie diet would include no more than 50 grams of added sugars per day.

  • I would use stevia, d-ribose or xylitol, or a combination of these.
  • I would use sugar alcohols secondarily

There are many types of sugars, some very healthy like d-ribose and other very healthy sugars called mucopolysaccharides.

Reading food labels are an important habit you should develop. It is the first step in your road to wellness. If you do not know what you are eating how can you control it?

Healthy Wishes

Wally’s Daily Dose


Sugar Intake and Your Health

When I discuss heart health and nutrition with clients, a majority of them immediately admit that they might be consuming too much unhealthy fat. They are shocked when I ask them about their sugar intake.

Most people do not realize there is a real and serious connection between your cardiovascular health and dietary sugar. The kinds of sugar I am referring to are white sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, high fructose corn syrup and the sugars in pastries and candies. Processed and refined  sugars offer little nutritional value and are absorbed into the blood stream very quickly due their lack of dietary fiber.

If you need to lose weight, have diabetes,  cardiovascular or heart disease you really should avoid or limit your consumption of those foods that can raise you blood sugar quickly. The sugar in fruit juices are also absorbed into our blood stream very quickly.

This a partial list of negative health consequences from the excessive consumption of refined and processed sugars.

  • Produce a significant rise in total cholesterol, triglycerides and bad cholesterol and a decrease in good cholesterol
  • Cause atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease
  • Cause diabetes
  • Cause intestinal yeast overgrowth
  • Cause hormonal irregularities
  • Cause abdominal obesity
  • Damage the heart, kidney, liver and other organs
  • Suppress the immune system
  • Feeds cancer cells
  • Cause a rapid rise of adrenaline, hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness in children
  • Interfere with your ability to concentrate

There are articles about sugar intake that use the term “carbohydrates” in relationship to a rise in cardiovascular risk.  In my opinion that is too broad of a stroke of the pen. Not all carbohydrates have an adverse effect on our heart health.  Foods rich in fiber also called “complex carbohydrates”, slow absorption of dietary sugar helping the body keep blood sugar at healthy levels.

To stay healthy, consume sugars from complex carbohydrates and avoid processed sugars and refined flours.  Your cardiovascular system, heart and pancreas will love you for it.

Vegetables, Fresh or Frozen?

Fresh vs. Frozen

As we get into spring and summer, we know a bounty of scrumptious and nutritious fresh vegetables and fruits will soon be available to tantalize our taste buds. Many times I get asked “which is better, fresh or frozen”? That’s not a simple question.

Many variables affect the nutritional values in a vegetable or fruit. For example, how mature was the plant when harvested, what type of environmental stress was it grown under, how rich was the soil, what chemicals was it exposed to, how much water did it receive? All of these are factors that influence the nutritional value of a plant. Another set of factors that you must consider, how long has it been from harvest to your plate, was it refrigerated or not? The longer a fresh vegetable or fruits goes before consumption the more nutrients are lost. In fact, the USDA says that vegetables and fruits can lose up to half of their nutritional value in only two days of room temperature storage. These facts are very important, however, in most cases impossible for you to know.

So how do you decide between fresh and frozen? With these facts to consider, lets take a logical look at this question. If we know that the longer a vegetable or fruit sits, the more nutritional value is lost; we should focus on local fresh veggies and fruits. Local means they have been in storage the shortest amount of time from harvest, in most cases. Look for grocers that advertise produce from local growers. Organic veggies and fruits may have a slightly higher nutritional content. The studies are not conclusive but do indicate that trend. One thing for sure is you limit your exposure to harmful chemicals when buying organic.

If the produce you are seeking is out of season or not from local growers, buy frozen. Many stores now identify produce that is from local farms. Frozen veggies and fruits are cleaned, prepared and quickly frozen after harvest locking in the nutritional values that nature provided. However avoid those in a sauce or syrup. Read the ingredient label and make sure it contains just the vegetables or fruit and maybe a little salt.

Both are great choices! Choose fresh if it’s locally grown and frozen if local is not available.

Wally’s Daily Dose