By now you’ve probably worked your way through reading the encyclopaedic volume of knowledge known as the “Lose Weight, No Bullshit” program here on this little site I’ve put together for you. Or if you haven’t, you’re had better be about to!
As a little recap, you already know that this program is based on science and arithmetic, rather than “bro-science”, fads or gimmicks. Or scams, for that matter.
Specifically, I rely heavily upon the following mathematical formulas;
- Body Mass Index: To determine our goal weight.
- Mifflin – St Joer Equation: To estimate appropriate calorie levels.
as well as
- IIFYM: which isn’t mathematics but the same point (I will get to one eventually, I promise) does apply.
First, let’s look at Body Mass Index.
You’ve already read my epic lectures on Applying Logic When Interpreting BMI Scores and hopefully you’re all on board by now and I don’t have to be redundant and repeat myself any further on that matter. But just in case this entry is your first stop on your first visit to the website; suffice to say that you can’t just rely on the maths alone. For example a Body Mass Index of 30 means “obesity”, but it takes human intelligence and reasoning to be able to interpret this score appropriately.
A human being can reason; “well, I am a body builder after all, I’m quite lean and obviously I’ve been trying very hard to build as much extra muscle as I can… So a BMI of 30 means I am doing an excellent job!” Or, on the other hand; “I knew I was getting a bit out of shape through bad food choices and no exercise, but wow, BMI 30 is a wake up call. I’ll have to do something about this, for my health”.
Next, Mifflin – St Joer Equation
There are a few different equations used to estimate calorie requirements, but in my practise I have found that Mifflin – St Joer tends to be very accurate. To recap on this, we use the formula first to determine our Basal Metabolic Rate, and then to estimate calories required to maintain weight while accounting for our level of activity including training.
Again, the maths is accurate but we need to apply human intelligence to make it useful. I have a nice little spreadsheet calculator that I use to estimate requirements for myself and my Personal Training / Online Personal Training clients. If I was a bit better at web development I would find a way to incorporate the calculator into this website, but again, without some intelligent human interpretation based on logic and experience (that’s the big one!), the data might not be terribly useful.
Remember, (ex-mainframe computer guy here) the definition of data is “information organised for analysis or used to reason or make decisions”. The results of this formula are no exception.
As an example let’s go back to the idea of online calorie requirement calculators. There are lots of them out there you might like to have a look at, including as part of the calorie counting / meal tracking websites. These are incredibly useful tools and I do recommend that you utilise them, but one shortcoming is that a machine can only do maths, and so far cannot interpret the results in the same way as your mighty human brain can.
So general practice when dialling in a weight loss plan is “determine maintenance calories, then subtract 500”, and this seems to be the maths on which most of the online calculators runs on. Now 9 times out of 10 this is probably fine, but I’ve had a couple of instances where someone has asked me “does this seem right?” because the target calories they’ve been given is just so ridiculously low. We’ve covered what happens when you cut too low on calories, right? In my professional opinion, you just cannot cut below BMR, ever.
So instead of this, what you’ve already seen me recommend in this program is “determine the amount of calories to support your goal weight (usually BMI 23 / 25), ensure it is not below your current BMR, and eat this amount”. With my paying clients (including Online Personal Training clients, subtle hint) I have the luxury of being able to consider personal circumstances as well as the raw data, and then come up with a recommendation that I can confidently stake my reputation on. Maybe one day they’ll be able to program a computer well enough to do the same, but I am thinking that day is still a long way off.
Oh, and IIFYM.
Same deal really.
We all know the theory is “at the end of the day, you either ate the right amount or you did not eat the right amount”. I stand by this theory, but again, with some basic human intelligence (let’s not call it common sense any more, we all know it is not terribly common!) applied.
For example, are you allergic or intolerant to anything? Are you making choices that will make you more likely to over eat and blow your targets? Have you actually chosen appropriate macronutrient ratios suited to your training and goals?
The theories and formulas are sound, but it is up to you and I to make them actually work.