The basic principle of weight loss is simple; calories consumed must be less than the calories burned. In order to create this imbalance there are two main approaches, either limit daily caloric intake, exercise to use more calories in the day, or use a combination of both. The purpose of this article is to give a brief overview of how to apply the ACSM and ADA guidelines for weight loss and management to your own training.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) released its revised position on the use of physical activity for weight loss in its official journal, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (MSSE). The American Dietetic Association (ADA) also released its position on weight management in 2009, covering many of the same ideas and principles outline by the ACSM. The focus of these articles is on weight loss and management, however, they do outline many important benefits of obtaining and maintaining appropriate weight levels, including improvements in cardiovascular disease (CVD) and chronic disease risk factors. Both these articles, while lengthy, are a great source of information and well worth the time for those who wish to learn more
Limiting Caloric Intake for Weight Loss:
One pound of fat consists of approximately 3,500 calories (kcal), by creating a 500-1000 kcal deficit in your day you can theoretically lose 1-2 pounds a week. Burning this many calories a day through exercise alone is extremely difficult as it requires a huge dedication of time and effort. However, by combining energy expenditure from exercise with a caloric deficit in daily diet these goals are reachable.
When doing this it is important to remember that, while decreasing caloric intake has been shown to aid in weight loss, the body still needs energy and nutrients to function optimally. Taking too much away from your diet and exercising more will decrease your energy, performance, and results. If your goal is greater than a 500 kcal deficit, then adding exercise to your exercise to your weight loss plan may be necessary in order to help you burn the extra calories that are not being taken out of your diet.
Exercise for Weight Loss:
At the very least it is suggested, by many professional health organizations including the ACSM and ADA, that adults participate in 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week. Even this minimal weekly exercise has been shown to help increase heart health, but with an increase in physical activity you will start to see even more benefits, including weight loss. The ACSM suggests between 150 and 250 minutes a week to prevent weight gain, and greater than 250 minutes to encourage more weight loss. They show that this is especially true if it is combined with moderate caloric restriction in the diet, however trying to restrict dietary intake too much showed no further increase in weight loss.