Counting Calories for Weight Loss

Calories, many people are confused by them. They think they are bad, and the more you have, the fatter you get.

Well, it’s true that the more you have the fatter you COULD get, but its not quite as simple as that because you’re body requires so many calories to function!

Let’s dig into the science behind it.

What is a Calorie?

A kilocalorie is a measurement of energy, often written as kcal, cals or calories.

There are roughly 3,500 calories in 1lb of fat. So to lose 2lbs of fat per week (NHS recommended guidelines) you would have to reduce your calorie intake by 7,000 calories.

So, now we know what a calorie is, we need to know what we use this energy for and how we use it.

We are always burning calories

We are always using energy in our bodies to repair damaged cells, keep our vital organs up and running and to function on a daily basis. We call this the RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate). When we calculate the amount of calories a person needs, this is an important factor because we are always going to burn the RMR value, even if we lie in bed doing nothing for a week.

You can calculate your RMR here.

It is important whilst dieting to try and stay above your RMR because it keeps your body functioning properly without harming your health.

Calories burned in a typical day

Further to our RMR, we burn additional calories when we move and perform our daily task’s. We call this the TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). This depends on how active we are through the day and is usually averaged as we will burn different amounts of energy doing different tasks on different days. For example, one day you might do the shopping, and the next you might not leave your house.

You can calculate your TDEE here.

When you are trying to lose weight, you want to create a daily calorie goal below your TDEE to ensure weight loss.

How to lose weight with counting calories

All diets are built on the same foundations. Restrict certain foods and drinks in an attempt to reduce the amount of calories you consume. There is no magic food that is going to make you lose weight, just like there are no magic pills which can make you lose weight – they can only help by removing certain macro’s (fats, carbs or proteins) from your diet which inherently reduce the amount of calories your body consumes.

Mark Haub helped prove that weight loss comes from the reduction of calories over time, not the ‘quality’ of the food. Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University consumed a diet consisting of dorito’s, twinkie’s and oreo’s and by restricting his caloric intake to 1,800kcal per day, he managed to shed 27lbs in 2 months. You can read more about it here.

However, it is important to note that it is important to eat a healthy diet at all times to nourish our bodies sufficiently, so I’m afraid i’m going to have to ask you to keep a well-balanced diet while you try to lose weight.

How to count calories

First thing’s first, we need a plan of action. Download the MyFitnessPal app on your phone. This app is going to allow you to scan the barcodes of your food for easier use. I would recommend getting to grips with how to use MyFitnessPal as it’s one of the most powerful tools in your hands for your weight loss goals.

Daily Calorie Goal

Depending on how quickly you want to lose weight, you want to calculate your TDEE and reduce it by 10-20% – just make sure, it doesn’t drop below your RMR!

I do not recommend letting MyFitnessPal determine your calorie goal, because quite often it will go below your RMR and make your calorie goal difficult to adhere to.

Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats

It’s important to try and keep a good mix of your proteins, carbs (carbohydrates) and fats to keep your body running smoothly. Here’s why: proteins repair muscle tissue, carbs are your primary energy source, fats are needed to transport certain vitamins and minerals your body needs.

The most important if you are strength training is to have at least 1gram of protein per kg of body weight.
If you perform a lot of cardio then it’s also important to eat plenty of carbs to keep your energy up.
Fat is the least important macro, but it is important to consume some but no more than 20g of fat for women and 30g of fat for men per day.

You can track the stats on all of your macros within the MyFitnessPal app.

Hopefully you found this blog useful and you can start losing weight and moving towards your dream body!

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