WTF is up with calories?
Weight loss is simple. Kind of. Sometimes. But not really. There is a lot of conflicting misinformation out there so we are going to give you the skinny, so to speak with a little FAQ and some helpful numbers and figures
Q: How do I lose weight?
A: By taking in LESS calories (but not too much less) than you burn per day consistently. You can do this by increasing activity, but BY FAR the easiest way is to control your intake.
Q: How do I know how many calories *I* need every day?
A: At the bottom of this post, you can find some helpful calculations to figure that out! It varies from person to person depending on gender, size and activity levels!
Q: How do I know how many calories I have ingested though?
A: There is no 100% accurate method that is practical so we are always "ball park" figuring it out and thats okay! Try buying a set of measuring cups, using them for a while so you can roughly estimate portion sizes and then use an app such as MyFitnessPal (free) to do the numbers!
Q: Is food quality important or just macros?
A: You can absolutely lose weight by using the "macros" approach, but food quality is arguably the 2nd most important thing to consider when revising your nutrition after quantity. By ingesting plenty of vegetables and moderate amounts of fruit we are supplying the body with digestive enzymes, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants and all that other good shizz! You might get lean eating crap food, but you will not be healthy.
Q: I don't like to eat vegetables.
A: Tough. Start. You can start small though. Also - that's not a question silly! To quote Dr Ben House - "Eat like an adult". That means eat primarily whole, minimally processed foods. That doesn't mean you can't have junk food - it just should be a tiny part of your overall calorie intake.
Q: I eat really well right now though. Why am I not losing weight?
A: Many people that tell us this have one of four issues.
1) They eat very well Mon - Fri, but their weekends are a disaster
2) They eat "high quality" food, but they eat too much of that
3) They are eating too little (yes this is a problem)
4) They are expecting immediate results - progress takes time!
Hopefully the above answers some of your questions. Now, onto the important part of this post - the mathematics!
So, if you are a guy start off with 11,
if you are a girl, start off with 10 (sorry girls)
11 x your Lean Body Mass* in lbs (if you are in NYC, we can measure this for you with our InBody equipment, in our facility)
if you do not know your body fat %, you can estimate from the below pics, then take subtract your body fat % from 100 and multiply your weight by that.
Eg Tom is 200lbs. Tom thinks he is around 20% body fat.
Tom starts with 11 (Tom is, unsurprisingly, a man). 11 x (200lbs x 0.80) = 1760 kcals
(The 0.80 came from 100 - Toms 20% body fat = 80% of his weigh is Lean Mass. This is expressed as a decimal, 0.80)
So, if Tom is in a coma he burns ~1760 kcals. Tom is not in a coma though, so we need to account for his activity levels.
Lets use the following multipliers:
1.2 - Tom doesn't have a physical job, Tom doesn't work out
1.3 - Tom either works on his feet in a physical job (construction, serving in a busy restaurant) OR Tom goes to the gym 3x/ week
1.5 - Tom goes to the gym 4-5x/week OR goes 3x/week AND has a physical job
1.7 - Tom is an exercise fiend. He goes to the gym 5+/week OR 4-5/week AND has a physical job
2.0 - Tom is probably a professional athlete
So, in our scenario, Tom goes to the gym 3x/week. We already established that his Base Metabolic Rate (Tom's coma calories) are ~1760.
So 1760 x 1.3 = 2288kcals. This is Tom's Lean Mass maintenance. He should lose weight at this level of caloric intake (we have already created a deficit by ONLY using lean mass). This is a good jumping off point for calories. If there is no weight change/body fat change after two weeks, then consider dropping slightly lower.
These calculations give you a good ball park figure to start your weight loss with. If you want to take the guesswork out, sign up to our Online Coaching Program - The War On Fat. Click the button below to learn more.