The Science of Weight Loss

The Science of Weight Loss

We are living an era of ease, where everything is available on doorstep and one hardly has to make an effort to get a task done. With such a sedentary lifestyle, obesity comes as a byproduct. Weight gain is one of the major concerns of people of this age whose lives are entirely digital with little to no physical activity. But the question is how to define obesity or weight gain? According to World Health Organization (WHO) a person’s weight can lie in any of the five categories based on his BMI (body mass index). A BMI below 18.5 is underweight range, BMI between 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy weight range, BMI between 25 and 29.9 is overweight range and BMI above 30 is considered as obese range.

Obesity can lead to multiple diseases, including heart diseases, diabetes, hypertension and Arthritis. In order to keep one’s self from falling a prey to life threatening conditions, it is important to maintain weight within a healthy range. Losing weight has proven to be one of the most difficult journeys for many people. It is a bumpy road with lots of hurdles and it requires a person to stay dedicated and consistent. Before starting weight loss, it is important to know the right way to lose weight and for this a person should know the reason behind the weight gain.

There are numerous factors that cause weight gain such as genetics, overeating, lack of physical activity, insulin resistance, leptin resistance, certain medications and hormonal imbalance. Depending upon the cause, adopting the right technique to lose weight can help you get the results efficiently with minimum effort.

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How does weight loss occur?

The fundamental concept of weight loss is based on caloric management or creating a balance between energy intake and energy expenditure. An ideal daily intake of calories varies depending on age, metabolism and physical activity. On average, recommended daily caloric intake for men is 2500 kcal and 2000 kcal for women. Losing weight is a process of creating a caloric deficit by either taking lesser calories than recommended or by burning greater calories than the calories consumed through food. Number of calories required by a person is determined on the basis of basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the number of calories your body needs to accomplish its most basic life sustaining functions.

How to create a calorie deficit?

In order to create calorie deficit, one should determine the daily calorie need by calculating the BMR using following formula:

Adult male: 66+(6.3×body weight in lb) +(12.9×height in inches) -(6.8×age in years) = BMR

Adult female: 655+(4.3×weight in lb) +(4.7×height in inches) -(4.7×age in years) =BMR

Once the BMR is calculated a person can calculate his BMR using one of the following formulas based on his activity level:

Sedentary: little or no exercise = BMR × 1.2

Minimally active: 1 to 3 days of exercise or physical activity per week = BMR×1.375

Moderately active: 3-5 days of moderate activity or exercise = BMR×1.55

Very active: 6-7 days of hard activity = BMR×1.725

Extra active: for example, athletes who train twice a day= BMR×1.9

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Once a person knows how many calories he needs to consume daily or on weekly basis, calorie deficit can be created effectively. One pound of body fat contains 3500 kcal, so if a person intends to lose one lb of fat in a week he needs to cut down 500 calories per day from his daily caloric intake similarly if a person wants to lose two lb of body fat which is 7000 kcal, he should create a difference of 1000 calories per day between the caloric intake and calories burnt. This calorie deficit can be achieved by either eating fewer calories or by burning extra calories through exercise or even limiting the caloric intake and working out simultaneously can serve the purpose.

Steps to lose weight:

Understanding the science behind weight loss is always the first step towards successfully achieving the target. Once the person becomes familiar with the basic phenomena of losing weight, he no longer has to look for fancy diets to reach his desired weight loss goal. Some essential lifestyle modifications along with wise dietary choices can be of major help in a weight loss process. Here are a few steps to follow prior to getting on this journey.

1- Identify the root cause:

The first step to weight loss is to identify the reason behind obesity. A consultation with a dietitian will help you rule out the serious health conditions causing you to gain excessive weight. If some metabolic cause or underlying pathology is present a doctor should be taken on board immediately eradicate the cause through proper treatment.

2- Make a mindset:

If you are thinking to lose all that extra weight overnight, it would be practically impossible because reminding one’s self to stay patient and consistent is the key to progress in this steep hike. Be very cognizant of the fact that it requires hard work and determination to get the desired results.

3- Set SMART goals:

Goals should be SMART enough to be achieved.  Goals that you set should be short term that means see your progress every week, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. Set a time limit initially and try harder to achieve your set goal within that time, even if you don’t exactly reach the target, you will definitely land somewhere nearby which will eventually determine your progress.

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4- Do not eat less, eat right:

Based on your defined calorie window, eat foods that are nutritious, but lower in calories. Taking from all basic food groups will keep you from developing any kind of nutritional deficiencies that mostly happens when fad diets are followed. Eat food that are rich in fibers such as fruits, vegetables oats and brown rice to keep you fuller for longer periods of time and avoid taking empty calories such as foods rich in sugars and refined carbs.

5- Stay physically active:

Exercise accelerates the process of weight loss by burning more calories. Working out for at least 30 minutes every day for 3-5 days per week is recommended by WHO to stay fit. Exercise helps in building muscles replacing fat tissues which ultimately causes the weight loss, but gain in terms of muscle mass.

6- Have a long-term goal:

Once you start achieving your short-term goals aim to achieve your goals in a longer run. Based on your weekly or monthly progress set your long-term goals. Do not follow a plan that is extremely restrictive and not sustainable instead adopt healthy habits as your lifestyle. Do mindful eating and keep a track of your progress. Never forget to treat yourself occasionally with your favorite cheat meals but always make healthier choices.


In a nutshell, weight loss is not just a temporary approach it is in fact a lifelong process of living a disease-free life. Knowing the right technique of weight loss plays the integral role in determining one’s success in achieving his target. The goal shouldn’t be just the weight loss instead health should be a priority and keeping off the extra pounds should be the actual concern. Only those who stand by the slogan “health is wealth” have the potential to stay focused and disciplined and ultimately bear the fruit of their efforts.

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