A few days ago on my way into work I was reading Tim Ferriss’s The The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman. Fantastic book, love Tim Ferris I have met the guy, he’s great. A few chapters in he starts to outline some guidelines to getting healthy and goes on to say you need to keep it simple. I totally agree! However the very next paragraph he goes onto detail about eating this and not that, and do this and not that. My eyes glazed over and I lost interest. Why? Because it got too complicated.

Tim had it absolutely right when he said keep it simple.

That is the most important tip I can give when it comes to weight loss. Folks that are new or just starting out can’t absorb that much information. Just like starting a new job you are overwhelmed with information. Adding all sorts of complexity right out of the gate is setting yourself up to fail. I love to quote Scott Smith, a mentor and fitness expert I have followed for a lot of years. ”Complexity creates paralysis and paralysis is not moving”.

Start, and keep it simple.

Find what works best for you, and then add complexity as you start feeling more comfortable in your new routine and feel that you can take on and learn more. Let’s assume that you’re new to the game, and start with the 3 most basic pieces I can give you.

Know your basal metabolic rate (BMR).

If you are not familiar with your basal metabolic rate, this is probably the single most important number you should know aside from your weight. This is the amount of energy or calories that your body is burning everyday just to run itself. Circulating blood, blinking and digestion all take energy. You’re not actively making it happen, but you are burning calories all the time. Your

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” ~Confucius

BMR gives you an idea of just how much your body burns to keeps its vital functions running. You need to strive to eat this number of calories every day give or take 100.

You’re going to burn this many calories daily regardless of how active or inactive you are, and keep in mind this doesn’t take into account any sort of activity. If you were to sit on the couch all day and not move an inch, you would still burn this number of calories.

So you need to find out your BMR and it’s a simple calculation based on your age, height, weight, and gender. There are lots of calculators to find out your BMR, and generally I have always used this one.

Calories in vs. calories out.

Let’s face it, it’s a scientific fact. You have to eat less calories than you burn. But now you have a secret weapon. You know your BMR and roughly how many calories your body needs. So now you do a workout, and you have burned calories on top of the energy your body has consumed to continue running and as a result of this you are at a net negative in terms of caloric intake. Net negatives equals losing weight.

Let’s look at a quick example. My BMR for instance is about 1,800. So let’s say that I have a workout and burn an additional 550 calories. Over the course of the day I ate about 1,850 calories, a little over my BMR. So my caloric intake and output for the day would look something like this:

1,850 (Calories Eaten) – 1,800 (BMR) – 550 (Workout) = -500 Net Calories

So I am burning more calories than I am consuming as shown by the -500 net calories. This means I am losing weight, it’s that simple. Taking this a step further, generally speaking a pound of fat is about 3,500 calories. So if you were do this for 7 consecutive days you should have shed at least 1 pound.

If you’re like most people you’re probably thinking that’s a lot of work and a lot of time for 1 pound, and it is. But lets look at this in another way. If you were to stick with this for a year wouldn’t it be great to be 52 pounds lighter a year from now?

Don’t eat things out of a package.

The last thing I really recommend is learning to cook with whole and raw foods. There are so many reasons to do this, but for me there are two that to a beginner stand above them all.

Pre-packaged food is extraordinarily high in sodium (aka salt). Salt is one of your worst enemies when you are trying to lose weight. A sodium rich meal can make you gain 3-5 pounds overnight. No joke! Now, this added weight will go away within a couple of days but the reason I think it’s extremely important as it could be really discouraging to someone who wasn’t expecting it. So keep an eye on your sodium.

Raw whole foods are going to keep you fuller longer, not to mention you can usually eat a lot of them compared to their packaged counter parts. Learn good recipes with fruits and veggies. Believe me, I was that person that hated fruits and veggies. Take some time and effort to try different varieties and different recipes. There are so many good ones out there! A great example, my parents always seemed to buy red delicious apples. That’s really all I knew and I hated them. I still do, but then I tried braeburn apples and I loved them. Then my wife found Fuji apples, and I love those even more! The point here is to try out some new things, it’s going to be a little uncomfortable for a while, but you’ll get there.

Keep it simple. Take time to understand your body.

Understand how your workouts affect your body and how they make you feel. Experiment and discover the reactions to the food you fuel yourself with. Learn to control these aspects and then add complexity.