An unfortunate pattern

Among those who are unsuccessfully trying to lose weight, one common denominator becomes apparent - no consequence. In the most popular scheme, these people, from Monday to Friday, strictly follow the rules of their chosen nutritional plan, while at the weekend the plans go away. Misconception holds that if I ate healthy all week, counted calories, then if I give up a bit on the weekend, nothing big will happen. And yet…. As in January there was no physical fitness, so in July it is also in vain to seek it.

Where is the problem?

The problem lies in the lack of understanding of the basic principles that determine the processes of synthesis and breakdown of adipose tissue.

A short lecture entitled "Understanding calories"

Wanting to understand the essence of the issue well, I will briefly describe the basics on which the whole dietitian and all principles of rational nutrition are based.

We all know that food is energy. Energy, thanks to which our body is able to build cells, hormones, send nerve impulses, set muscles in motion, in short - to function. Unlike plants, we cannot generate energy from the sun, which is why we must constantly eat food, which is the source of electricity for the body.

Total metabolism

Each of us has slightly different energy needs, which are mainly determined by body weight (in particular lean mass), height and physical activity. To put it simply: the larger and more active a person is, the higher the energy expenditure will be. For example, total metabolism (CPM), for a man weighing 90kg, training 5 days a week can be 5000 kilocalories, while in the case of a 60-kilo woman running recreationally twice a week, only 2400 kcal.

The energy balance principle
The key to overall health is maintaining a balance between the amount of energy consumed with food and the energy expended by the system. In the case of adults, long-term deviations from this balance can lead to overweight and obesity - in the case of positive energy balance, or to emaciation and exhaustion of the body - in the case of negative energy balance.

Energy from food = Energy expended by the body

Energy from food > Energy expended by the body

Energy from food < Energy expended by the body

Unfortunately, today many people have serious problems controlling the amount of energy they consume. In the popular scenario, for many years people consume far too much energy, the consequence of which is an excessive increase in body fat. After some time, such a person realizes that something should be done about it. Quite drastically reduces the amount of calories consumed, jumps into a large, negative energy balance in order to get rid of stored energy reserves. As we can see, most often we are dealing with two extreme states (overeating and malnutrition), while the one that is most desirable (equilibrium) is a period almost unprecedented nowadays.

Diet energy value in a wider aspect

Many people mistakenly think that the amount of calories consumed should be considered only for one day. Nothing could be more further from the truth. Our body does not know that midnight has passed and we have another day and that the counter with calories consumed is resetting. First of all, even during sleep, our body constantly works and undergoes many biochemical processes that require energy. Secondly, it rarely happens that every day we perform exactly the same activities that could translate into identical energy expenditure. In fact, depending on the duties and schedule of a given day, the amount of motion can vary significantly compared to the previous day, which translates into a slightly different amount of all-day energy expenditure of the body. A more reliable indicator is the consideration of the unit's energy expenditure in a much broader spectrum. Personally, I recommend arranging a calorie diet plan for the whole week. Despite the fact that there may always be unexpectedly very active days or days with little physical activity, over 7 or 10 days, we can quite accurately estimate the average energy expenditure that is specific to a given unit.

Enough of this theory ... time for practical application of acquired knowledge

Suppose we are dealing with a young athletic guy named Marek. Our hero got bored of living in the wild; he found the chosen one of his heart, which he decided to marry. Wanting to fit in his favorite suit is forced to lose a few kilos. Wedding in a few months, action "reduction" – ready, steady, go!

Marek calculated his caloric demand, which is 3500 kcal - with this amount of calories consumed body weight remains stable (zero energy balance). On a weekly basis, this gives us an energy expenditure of 24,500 kcal.

As we know from the previous part, wanting to get rid of unwanted energy stores, stored in the form of adipose tissue, Marek must reduce the caloric content of his diet, so that the energy expenditure of the body exceeds the amount of energy supplied with food (negative caloric balance).

The goal is a reduction of about 0.5% of body weight per week. At 100kg, this gives us about 0.5kg.

From the literature we know that to reach such a level you need to create a caloric deficit of about 500 kcal per day. This translates into a reduction of calorie diet by 3500 kcal per week.

Mark's total metabolism is: 3500 kcal / day, 24.500 kcal / week
Goal: loss of 0.5 kg / week
Caloric deficit: 500 kcal / day, 3500 kcal / week
Menu calorific value: 3500 kcal - 500 kcal = 3000 kcal / day, 21,000 kcal / week

During the first weeks everything went according to plan, Marek lost the first kilos. The problem arose when he realized that these were his last moments of freedom, so he decided to make the most of them. Of course, he was still bearing in mind that for the wedding must lose weight. Every next weekend, our hero would arrange with his friends for a small stroll through the city, during which he remembered his extraordinary bachelor life. During these alcoholic expeditions, a large number of extra calories fell in. Although Marek still honestly adhered to the rules of the nutrition and training plan from Sunday to Friday evening only, body weight stopped falling down. The reduction has stopped. Why?

Let's assume that on Friday and Saturday Marek consumed 5000 kcal respectively. This is not a big deal considering that an average pizza is around 1200 kcal and a pint of beer approximately 250 kcal.

We have previously calculated that the weekly calorie intake that guaranteed a weight loss of 0.5kg was 21,000 kcal.

We will see how weekend excursions affected the weekly caloric balance:
Calories to maintain body weight: 24,500 kcal / week, 3500 kcal / day
Scenario with weekend trips: 25,000 kcal / week, 3570 kcal / day = 3000 kcal x 5 days + 5000 kcal x 2 days
Calories for weight reduction: 21,000 kcal / week, 3000 kcal / day

Summing up the amount of calories consumed in the whole week, we see that this amount was far too high to achieve the set goal of losing 0.5 kg of body weight. As a result, despite the fact that Marek honestly implemented the nutrition and training plan for most of the week, the reduction came to a standstill because what he earned during the week, he lost at the weekend.


As we can see, consistency is the key to success. If our hero reliably adhered to the set plan in its entirety, and not only on selected days of the week, achieving the chosen goal would be much more efficient.

I will only add that you can achieve the set goals without losing the joy of life. A noteworthy strategy is to plan out socializing in advance. The day before or on the day of the meeting, it is worth subtracting a certain amount of calories from the menu for calories that we plan to consume when going out.

For example, we agreed with friends from work in the evening for small gossip, which without two glasses of good wine do not have a problem. In such a situation, we subtract the amount of calories that is in those glasses of wine from the calorie pool on that day (or the day before). In the Internet age it is not a big problem to search for such information.

Let's assume that we consume 2500 kcal every day. Two glasses of wine is about 500 kcal. Simple math and we know that until we go out we consume only 2000 kcal, and keep the remaining 500 kcal for the evening and we hope that we have the strong will to be able to resist a friend who will gladly offer us another glasses of red drink.

Such a system will guarantee us the implementation of body / diet / training assumptions, while not crossing out enjoying our everyday life.