The Math of Losing Weight

This is a very important post, guys.

When I was finishing up my degree in mechanical engineering at Texas A&M (Whoop!), one of my favorite classes was Thermodynamics. I remember on the first day, my professor gave his introduction slideshow, and one of his bullet points said something along the lines of:

  • Thermodynamics will change the way you look at life.

As a know-it-all 20 year old student, I laughed a little. That was a DRAMATIC bullet point. Wow, this class is gonna CHANGE MY LIFE! Hah, yeah, right.

But, it kind of did – because believe it or not, dieting and losing weight follow the laws of thermodynamics; namely, the energy balance concept.

Basically, our bodies run on energy. That part is obvious, right? We get energy from consuming food and drink. And our fat stores are just our body’s way of keeping extra energy.

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Our bodies literally run on energy.

Therefore, when we burn more energy than we consume, our body has no choice but to take some energy from our fat stores. On the other hand, if we consume more energy than we burn, our body is going to keep that extra energy (usually converting it to fat).

That energy is usually measured in calories. You know, those numbers you see on the back of your Pop Tarts.

grapepoptart-02
Check it before you wreck that Pop Tart.

 

Let’s say, for example, that your body burns about 2000 calories a day. That means three things. We’ll call them the 3 Laws of Pop Tarts:

  1. When you eat 10 Pop Tarts (2000 calories), you will stay approximately the same weight.
  2. When you eat 11 or more Pop Tarts (2200+ calories), you will gain weight.
  3. When you eat 9 or less Pop Tarts (1800- calories), you will lose weight.

Obviously, nobody eats 10 Pop Tarts a day and this is an oversimplification. Maybe you’re a super jacked Marine whose body burns 4000 calories a day. Maybe you live in Houston and it floods one day, motivating you to swim laps around the Bayou and burn 500 calories. But the principle is the same:

You will lose weight if you consume less calories than you burn.

This is the principle that helped me lose 50 pounds in the past few years, and it’s the principle I still follow today. It really is that simple.

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