Sustainable Weight Control
I'm not a big fan of promoting specific weight loss programmes or diets, I believe a lot of them aren't sustainable over time. I prefer instead to provide exercise advice and nutrition tips to educate people so they can make healthy choices themselves depending on what their particular goals and circumstances are. As part of my Sports Nutrition course however, I was tasked with creating a tailored weight control plan for an imaginary client. The objective was to support my client in achieving his personal weight loss goals taking into account the multi factorial concepts of energy balance, nutrition and weight loss.
In my opinion, sustainable weight loss requires a gradual approach. Making healthy nutrition choices, eating reasonable portion sizes and pursuing an active lifestyle will lead to a healthy weight over time. In this blog I want to share the thinking behind a quality weight control plan (this could be used for weight loss, maintenance or gain) so you can apply this to your own specific circumstance. There was quite a bit of detail to my project so for this blog I will introduce my client, highlight the metrics I used to reach daily nutritional/calorie requirements and show the exercise plan I designed for this individual. In a follow on article I will document the nutrition plan and discuss continued observation of the overall plan.
As you will see my client is a sedentary office worker so I hope this is a case study that many of you can relate to!
My client is John Doe, a 34 year old office worker in reasonable health. John is 178 cm (5 foot 10 inches) tall and weighs 79.5 kilograms (175 lbs). John’s somatotype can be described as mesomorph. John wishes to lose 8 to 10 lbs over an 8 week period (that’s roughly 3.5 to 4.5 kilograms).
It is my intention to provide John with a 7 day repeatable diet and exercise plan in order for him to achieve his weight loss goal.
John has kept reasonably healthy throughout his life, playing football, running and going to the gym on a fairly regular basis throughout his 20’s. In the last number of years John has struggled to find time to exercise regularly due to work and family commitments. He currently feels slightly over-weight and wishes to undertake an 8 week programme to get him back to what he feels is his optimum weight.
Using Body Mass Index (BMI) to analyse John’s current body composition we get the following result:
Weight in kg / height2 in metres = BMI
79.5 / (1.78m) 2 = 25
A normal BMI measurement is considered to be between 18.5 and 24.9. John’s higher reading of 25 indicates he is slightly overweight according to BMI measurement.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
The BMR is a measure of how much energy is used by a person while awake but lying down at rest to maintain proper function and weight. The Harris-Benedict equation is a formula that allows us to work out an individual’s BMR and thus their calorie requirement. We can work out John’s BMR as follows:
88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years) = BMR
88.362 + (13.397 x 79.5) + (4.799 x 178) – (5.677 x 34) = BMR
88.362 + 1065 + 854.22 – 193 = 1814.5 (John’s BMR)
Energy Intake and Expenditure Analysis
In addition to the BMR calculation, an extra proportion of kilocalories are required to process the food we eat (Thermic Effect of Food; TEF) and to perform daily activities and exercise (Thermic Effect of Exercise; TEE) depending on type, intensity and duration.
Using the result of the Harris-Benedict equation plus the level of activity of an individual we can determine their total daily energy expenditure requirement (kilocalories). For the last number of months John has been leading a sedentary lifestyle with little or no exercise. The formula (Physical Activity Metabolic Rate Multiplier) for a sedentary individual is:
BMR x 1.2 = Calorie Requirement
For John, we can work out his calorie requirement as follows:
1814.5 x 1.2 = 2177
This figure of 2177 is the number of calories John requires on a daily basis to maintain his weight given his current sedentary lifestyle. John has confirmed that his weight has remained stable at ~79.5 kilograms in recent months so this indicates his energy input on a daily basis has been roughly 2177 calories.
In order for John to realise his weight loss goal, I am proposing a healthy and sustainable 8 week programme to achieve it. The programme consists of two parts:
1) Exercise plan
2) 7 day repeatable diet plan (I will provide this in a separate article)
The success of this programme is dependent on John implementing both of these in parallel.
The exercise plan for John consists of a mixture of resistance and cardiovascular training. I have created resistance training routines for John for Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week for the 8 weeks. The exercises are all compound exercises meaning more than one muscle is trained with each exercise. John should complete this routine with a medium to high intensity.
Wide Arm Pull ups (4 x 10), Flat Bench Press (4 x 12), Squats (4 x 12), Military press (4 x 10)
Bent over row (4 x 12), Dips (4 x 12), Clean & Press (4 x 10), Pullover (4 x 12)
Under Arm Chin ups (4 x 10), Incline Bench Press (4 x 12), Deadlift (4 x 12), Upright row (4 x 12)
Tuesday and Thursday is cardiovascular exercise. On the Tuesday of week 1 I have asked John to complete a 5 kilometre run with an additional 500 metres added to this each week (i.e. in week 8 John should be running 8.5 kilometres). He will also record the time for each run in his diary. On Thursday’s John will return to playing 1 hour of 5 a side football.
The weekends are essentially rest periods for John however I have requested that he still get some form of moderate exercise. He is planning on taking his daughter for a minimum 60 minute walk on both Saturday and Sunday of each week.
Under normal circumstances I would not recommend a client go from zero to a programme such as the above immediately however given John’s familiarity with the gym and his history of cardiovascular activity I am satisfied that he can start this programme from week 1 albeit at a slow pace and gradually build himself into the plan.
Updated Calorie Requirement
Given that John is making a change to his lifestyle, i.e. we can now say he is moderately active as opposed to sedentary, we need to update his calorie requirements. Using the BMR from above and the same formula (this time increased to moderately active):
BMR x 1.55 (moderately active) = Calorie Requirement
1814.5 x 1.55 = 2812
John’s calorie requirement to maintain his weight while completing the new exercise plan is 2812. Now that we have this figure the next step is to workout John’s daily calorie requirement to help him lose 1-2 lbs per week. To be continued in a separate blog….
In this article I've introduced the client profile and exercise plan, used proven metrics to understand his daily calorie requirements and shown how to update these to accommodate a lifestyle change. In my next blog we will look at John’s calorie target in order to lose weight, I’ll detail the specific nutrition plan and discuss continued observation and how to track against the overall plan.
It's understandable for anyone trying to lose or gain weight to want to do it very quickly but my studies have shown me that people who lose weight gradually (around 1 to 2 pounds per week) are more successful at keeping the weight off. Healthy weight loss isn't just about fad diets. It's about an ongoing lifestyle that includes long term changes in daily eating and exercise habits.
My project does highlight many considerations for a quality weight control plan and if you really want to go into detail on your plan then I hope this content helps. On the flip side though, don’t let the level of detail I’ve provided put you off. The fundamental basics of a weight control plan are regular exercise and healthy eating so use these as your starting point and build on them as you improve your knowledge and awareness of physical activity and nutrition while working towards your target weight.
Until the next time on Office Worker Health….