Calories in, calories out, is an outdated way of looking at weight loss. Although it is generally true that you need to burn more calories than you consume, there are more factors involved in losing weight and successfully keeping it off.

Calculate Your BMR

Knowing your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is one of the most effective tools for successfully losing weight. For an estimate of your BMR, you can use online calculators that base your BMR on your current weight, height, age, and sex. These few factors are bound to be inaccurate, but it is a starting point for determining your daily caloric intake. If possible, try to have a DEXA scan or other comprehensive testing to determine your BMR. These tests will also give you a measurement of your body fat percentage and amount of lean body mass. It is best to eat in a caloric deficit between 250 and 500 calories lower than your BMR. If you include exercise, you can eat more calories each day and maintain your deficit.

Do Less Cardio

It sounds silly to do less cardio when you are trying to lose weight, but there are many reasons why cardio is not as effective for fat loss as you think. When you consider the amount of calories you burn each day, the majority of the calories come from our BMR, not exercise. This means your diet is the single most important tool for long-term weight loss. Additionally, when you consider the amount of calories burned through exercise, you will be unpleasantly surprised.

Depending on the exercise you do, the intensity, length of time performing the exercise, and your current weight, you might realize an exercise session only burns a few hundred calories, not even enough to burn off a decent cheeseburger. This does not mean that cardio is unnecessary or unimportant, it simply means the mindset of spending hours running on the treadmill to lose weight is not in your best interest. Find a type of cardio you enjoy, especially activities that involve high intensity or intervals, and engage in the activity three to five times per week. Cardio remains an important tool for cardiovascular health and increasing endurance.

Focus More On Strength Training

Strength training can offer more weight loss benefits because the more lean mass you add, the more your BMR will increase. This means you burn more calories each day while at rest and are less reliant on the calories you burn during a cardio workout. Start by consulting a personal trainer to help you formulate a full-body strength and fitness program you can do three times per week, with at least one or two rest days between each workout. If you are a person who has frequently lost and regained weight, you will find building lean body mass will make it easier to maintain your weight loss. Generally, once you gain muscle, it takes less work to maintain the same muscle mass.

Unfortunately, weight loss is more complicated than counting calories. Long-term weight loss requires a combination of proper diet and the right types of exercise that are unique to your individual needs.