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Tips on Calories and Training for Weight Loss

Top Speed Eaters Compete In Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest

In today’s society, there are a ton of advertisements on weight loss  Over the years of training people, I have been asked about what pills they should take to reach their body image goals.  What I tell them is to not waste their money on pills that may or may not work and substitute them with a solid weight and cardio training program.  One time I was talking to this guy at the gym and I asked him what he was taking and told me he was taking 4 different kinds of fat burners.  He told me he had been taking these for 6 months and saw little improvement.  After asking a few more questions, I found out that his diet is subpar and his workout is mediocre.  Trust me, I know how frustrating it is to kick butt in your training and not see the results that you want.  If you challenge yourself into the weight room and your nutrition is spot on, there is no reason why you would need pills. Unfortunately, some people can achieve these goals without putting the hard work in.  For most of us we need to be spot on with our nutrition, resistance training, cardio and sleep.

One of the quotes that I have heard most of my weight lifting life is “abs are carved in the kitchen”. If this is the first time you have heard this, what do you think it means?  What this quote means is that to have those six pack abs, you need to be perfect with your diet.  You can do a million sit ups but if you don’t have your diet in check then your not going to see the results that you want

A.   Diet

There are so many crazy diets out there.  Some can be effective and most are plain ridiculous.  Last year, I tried cutting out carbohydrates for 2 months and just focusing on high protein and fat.  By doing this I lost 30 lbs, but the only problem is that I was losing muscle from not feeding my body.  Even elite athletes try these diets, as Lebron James had no problem not eating any carbohydrates for 2 months.  He was ripped and had muscle.

The American College of Sports Medicine suggests cutting 500 calories per day and this has been shown to help reduce weight and fat. If you did not know there are 3,500 calories in a pound.  Our goal when losing weight is to lose 1-2lbs per week. If we are losing a lot more than that we can increase the risk of losing muscle.

Have you ever tried a very-low calorie diet?  I have tried this and have been made fun of for eating like a princess.  The purpose of very low calorie diets is to be done in a very short period of time.

Wadden (1994) compared weight loss using a VLCD (420 cal with a 1200 cal balanced deficit diet). Weight loss after 26 wk of treatment was 47.3 lbs in the VLCD group compared with 11.9 kg in the balanced deficit diet group. However, after 52 wk of treatment, total weight loss was comparable in both groups, with the VLCD group maintaining a 10.9-kg weight loss and the balanced deficit diet group maintaining a 12.2-kg weight loss. These results suggest that excessively low levels of energy intake to produce a greater magnitude of initial weight loss do not necessarily translate into better maintenance of weight loss long-term.

If you compare other fad style nutrition plans, the mediterranean diet involves eating a diet rich in olive oil, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, along with red wine.  This improved people with a high risk for cardiovascular problems to avoid heart trouble better than those eating a low-fat diet.

In my opinion, in order to lose weight and body fat is to be on your feet and moving around.  Sticking to a nutrition plan and limiting the setbacks can make losing weight and feeling great that much easier.

B.   Training

I find it funny when you talk to people and they say all personal trainers do is get paid to count reps.  There is a ton of science that goes into preparing people for their goals.

How to design a program

The first thing you think of before you pick exercises to do is: reps, sets and rest.  It is so important to mix up these 3 components along with the exercises.  I’m sure you have seen people at the gym doing the same workout for years.  Have you noticed they look the same?  You need to mix up your workouts.  For myself, I change up my workout every month. There are exercises that we do that just targets one muscle group.  It is ok to have an isolating exercise, but if you don’t have a lot of time to lift it can be beneficial to incorporate more muscles to each exercise.  Remember we want to make our heart beat go up and down.  Some people will even change every week.  For example, one week you are doing 3 sets of 10 reps for every exercise and the next week perform 3 sets of a minute.  Keep your bodies guessing, it will help in the long run.

Recent research has suggested that people should exercise for 30 minutes every day. A recent study showed that 280 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise with a proper diet plan resulted in a 13 kg or more weight loss over an 18 month period.  If you do the math, this adds up to a 1.5 lb loss per week.  In that same study, that same group for the next 18 month worked out for 200 minutes or less per week.  When examining the results of the both groups, the 200 minutes or less program showed weight gain.  If we look at someone who is doing high intensity workouts 200 minutes or less could be more effective for weight loss.  When we are not training, adding everyday activities can be beneficial. Walking to the store, washing your car and doing yard work can be beneficial for your progress.

Resistance training has been shown to be very effective for weight and fat loss.  Resistance training when done effectively can increase fat-free mass, strength and power.  Your diet needs to be spot on for resistance training to be fully effective.  Studies have shown that a low calorie diet along with resistance training has little to no benefit.

Kraemer (1997) combined a periodized resistance-training program with an endurance exercise component and dietary modification. The periodized resistance exercise program consisted of 3 days a week that alternated heavy and moderate training days. Approximately 11 different exercises were performed, and subjects progressed to three sets of each exercise throughout the duration of the 12-wk study. On heavy days, 5–7 repetitions per set were performed to fatigue, with moderate days including 8–10 repetitions per set to fatigue. Endurance exercise consisted of 3 days a week with duration progressing from 30–50 min/d at a high intensity. Calorie intake was approximately 1500 kcal/d. This showed that there was a significant decrease in fat and weight and an increase in fat free mass.

Losing weight and fat can be very difficult, trust me I have my struggles with it also.  The problems I see with people are they want fast results.  If you are planning on looking great for the summer, you better get started now.


  1. Kraemer WJ, Volek JS, Clark KL, Gordon SE, Incledon T, Puhl SM, Triplett-McBride NT, McBride JM, Putukian M, Sebastianelli WJ. Physiological adaptations to a weight-loss dietary regimen and exercise programs in women. J Appl Physiol (1985). 1997 Jul;83(1):270-9.
  2. Wadden TA, Foster GD, Letizia KA.One-year behavioral treatment of obesity: comparison of moderate and severe caloric restriction and the effects of weight maintenance therapy. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1994 Feb;62(1):165-71.

Written by Chris Barber.