Compute for your ideal body weight
There is an ideal body weight (IBW) for every person, and it is computed in the following manner:
Height in centimeters – 100 = Ideal weight in kilograms (kg)
Thus, if your height is 5 feet and 4 inches, its equivalence in centimeters is 64 inches x 2.54 = 162.56 centimeters. Ideal body weight will be: 162.56 centimeters – 100 = 62.56 kg. If you are an Asian or a woman, you can afford to deduct 5-10 percent from 62.56 kilograms, and your IBW will be: 62.56 – 6.25 = 56.31 kg or 124 lbs. Your IBW is the most appropriate weight for your sex, age and degree of activity.
Compute for your total daily caloric need
Your total daily caloric requirement (TDCR) is the number of calories that you need to take daily to maintain your IBW. If you take more than your TDCR, you will gain weight; if less, you will lose weight. If you will use your IBW in pounds, you need to multiply 15 if you are moderately active and multiply 20 if you are very active to compute for your TDCR (Roth, 2007). This does not discriminate whether you are a male or a female; hence, ball park figures are used here.
Thus, if your IBW is 124 lbs, and you are moderately active, your TDCR will be 124 x 15 = 1,860 calories. If you are very active, your TDCR will be 124 x 20 = 2,480 calories. Initially, if it is too hard for you to use the lower value, you can take the average of 1,860 and 2,480, which is 2,170, as your starting TDCR. At the very start of your weight reduction program, you can afford to exercise some degree of flexibility because then you are still adjusting.
Compute for the total daily calories that you have been taking
Before the start of your weight reduction program, you have been taking a certain number of calories per day which is called your total daily caloric intake (TDCI). Surely, if you are overweight now, your TDCI has been more than your TDCR! TDCI can be roughly computed by adding the number of calories derived from a certain size of food. In the food exchange lists, you will see, for instance, that one slice of bread provides the body with certain number of calories; a cup of rice weighing 150 grams, for another example, could provide certain number of calories. Adding all the number of calories coming from the different foods that you take each day will give you the TDCI.
If you have a friend who is a nutritionist–dietitian, s/he could provide you with the food exchange lists that would help and guide you add up the total calories that you derived from the foods that you take each day. Searching the internet could be another option of consulting different food exchange lists. Of course, this process does not require very exacting computation! All you have to do is to approximate the TDCI.
Compute for the discrepancy between the TDCN and TDCI
If you are overweight now, your TDCI has been more than your TDCR! The difference between your TDCI and your TDCR is the excess energy that you have been taking and has been causing your being overweight! To normalize your body weight, and for you to achieve your IBW, you need to stop taking the excess energy.
Reduce the number of calories that you take each day
The physiological rate of reducing weight is to lose 1-2 pounds per week. To achieve this, you need to reduce your total caloric intake by 3,500 -7,000 calories per week, or by 500 – 1,000 calories per day (Roth, 2007). One way of facilitating your weight reduction is to examine closely your intake of fats. Remember that for every gram of fats that you take in, you consume 9 calories! The caloric content of a gram of fats is the highest among the three food groups! Thus, it would be logical—and of prime importance—to target its reduction because then it could significantly facilitate your weight reduction.
Further discussion of this topic, particularly the method of reducing fat intake, will be continued in the second part.
Roth, Ruth A. Nutrition and Diet Therapy. Singapore: Delmar Learning, 2007.