Calories for your Fitness Goals

The spring breeze is on its way and with it comments like “I want to lose weight so I stopped eating” or “No more food for me”, these are some of the things I hear several times and I am sure that many have heard it as well. Do you think this is correct or completely insane? The answer is that it depends, but for the most part it would not be a good approach. I say it depends because there are people who know how to lose weight with techniques like intermittent fasting, which is that you have around an 8 hr window to eat and after that you are done for the day. But, this is something that needs to be well planned out and not something you can just jump into. So, what I have used for the past couple of years and have learned is effective is to fit your macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbohydrates) and daily calories. Best part is that you do not have to starve yourself to lose weight. How does it work? Allow me to explain.

Your body is a perfectly working machine, but like every machine it needs fuel to work. We gain our fuel from the food that we consume every day. Did you know that we have a minimum of calories we need to consume daily? Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR, which is the amount of energy expended while at rest in a neutral temperate environment. Let’s say that you are bedridden and cannot do anything else, your BMR is the number of calories you need to stay alive. There are many factors that affect BMR like age, genetics, weight, gender and a few others but thankfully there are calculators and apps that can give us quite an accurate number to begin. Here is an example of a moderately active 30 year old female with a height of 5 feet 6 inches who weighs 150 lbs. According to the BMR calculator her BMR is 1476 calories but now we have to input her activity level (moderate exercise 3-5 days/week) which gives us a daily maintenance calorie need of 2288 kcal. That would be the amount of calories she would need in order to maintain her weight and not lose or gain any pounds.

You want to lose weight, so what do you do? There has to be a calorie deficit in your daily diet, which means you consume fewer calories than needed for maintenance. You will subtract 500 calories from your maintenance and start to tract your weight weekly to see how it is working for you. Some people lose 1 lb per week while others lose more or less but the idea is to lose weight gradually without too much effort. Opposite occurs if you wish to gain weight, especially for those who want some extra lean muscle mass. You add around 200-500 more calories per week and begin to track your progress and how your body interacts with the change.

Let us focus now on macronutrients, which tie in directly with calories. I will try my best to explain this as easy as possible. 1 gram of protein equals 4 calories, 1 gram of fat equal 9 calories, and 1 gram of carbohydrates equals 4 calories. According to most scientific studies we should consume between 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. We will us 1 gram per pound of bodyweight because we are active and do strength training 3-5 times a week. Fat intake is 0.4 grams per pound of bodyweight and carbohydrates will consist of the remaining calories. Here is an example using the same female from the BMR example. She weighs 150 lbs, so her protein intake will be (1×150) 150 grams per day. Her fat intake will be (0.4 x 150) 60 grams per day. Now we only need carbohydrates, which like mentioned will be the remaining calories. Since 1 gram of protein is 4 calories we will multiply 4 by 150 giving us 600 calories, fat 9 calories by 60 is 540 calories. Her maintenance daily calories were 2288 kcal so we subtract the sum of protein and fat calories (600 kcal + 540 kcal = 1140 kcal) with 2288 which will give us 1148 kcal. The 1148 we divide by 4 giving us 287 grams of carbohydrates. Her daily maintenance macronutrients will be 150 grams of protein, 60 grams of fat, and 287 grams of carbohydrates.

Not too bad right? Well, it could be a bit much to understand it all but that is the foundation of finding out your calories for maintenance, weight loss, or weight gain. Like I always mention please talk with your doctor or dietitian before making any fitness or lifestyle chances. You can also follow me on my social media if you have any questions or would like to have more details on the topic. Many blessing to all and keep on inspiring others. Stay Hefty my friends.

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