The 70/30 approach to weight loss |

The 70/30 approach to weight loss

“Most of what you need to know about nutrition you already know.

“Take out a sheet of paper and make a list of all the junky things that you’re eating now. I’ll bet your list is 85 percent right without reading another sentence of this article. Simply stop eating most of the things that you know are bad for you.”

I wrote that a couple weeks ago in this column when referring to the book, “Younger Next Year.” Stop eating junk and exercise, and your weight will drift downward over time.

It is a great long-term approach to health and weight loss. But what if you want quicker weight loss? Is there a faster, yet still-practical strategy?

I prefer a long-term approach to weight loss. It is practical, healthy and usually leads to permanent lifestyle change. However, if you are committed to more rapid weight loss, you might consider trying the 70/30 approach. It has worked well for many of my clients and members at our clubs.

The 70/30 approach is a rule of thumb that says about 70 percent of initial weight loss comes from changes in diet and 30 percent from exercise. This is because it is difficult to get people to exercise hard enough or long enough to see significant weight loss fast enough to meet their expectations.

However, diet alone will not lead to success, and every legitimate study on weight loss shows that there is no long-term weight management without exercise or some kind of physical activity.

If you are trying to lose weight primarily through diet, then it all comes down to one strategy: Managing calories.

First, you must figure out how many calories you should eat to achieve your weight loss goal, and then you need to automate your eating.

How many calories per day should you eat to reach your goal weight?

While there are no exact formulas, a good place to start is to multiply your goal weight by 11 calories per pound for a woman or 12 calories per pound for a man. So, if you’re a woman and want to weigh 135 pounds, multiply 135 x 11 which equals 1,485 calories per day.

By using this approach, you are making two big assumptions: First that you have selected a realistic goal weight and are not trying to cut calories too low. Second, that you are using the calorie formula as a starting point and that you will safely adjust daily calories according to your results.

To determine how many calories you need for each meal, divide your daily caloric goal by the number of meals you eat in a day. You can shift calories from your snacks to your main meals to balance out your daily goal.

Since most people tend to eat the same five to eight meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is better to stick with your favorite meals as opposed to adopting some crazy new diet with recipes that you’ve never eaten before.

To automate your eating, simply select three to five healthy versions of your favorite breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners. Write down the ingredients, and then get a calorie book or use one of the free, on-line sites to figure out portion sizes that meet your caloric requirement for each meal.

Once you have your plan in writing, just eat those meals for six to eight weeks, and you’ll find that you no longer need to count calories.

Make sure to track your weight loss weekly and adjust your calories to maintain safe weight loss.

Bon appetite!

Mike Carville is a NASM/RKC-certified personal trainer and co-owner of South Yuba Club in Nevada City ( and Monster Gym in Grass Valley ( Contact him at

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