A calorie is classified as ‘the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius . Your body sees calories as energy, energy that is used to fuel basic bodily functions like breathing, moving and thinking. That is why it is crucial to be eating enough calories. I am a huge advocate for fueling your body with the right foods and with the right amount of calories.
When starting on a weight-loss journey, many people begin on a VLCD (very low calorie diet) at around 1200-1400 calories per day as they believe that this is what will help them lose weight quickly, and everyone wants fast results, right? They eventually end up hungry, their results stall due to their body being in starvation mode, so they give up and go back to how they were eating before starting their ‘diet’ because a VLCD is not sustainable long term.
3 crucial steps to losing weight when it comes to calories
1. Create no more than a 500 calorie deficit per day/3500 calorie deficit per week. This will allow you eat more, preserve more muscle and lose body fat at a healthy rate.
2. Never eat below your BMR (basal metabolic rate). Your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is the amount of calories your body would need if you were to lay in bed all day in a coma. Eating below this number will slow your metabolism preventing fat loss.
3. Be patient! This is the best way to eat if you want to lose the weight and keep it off for good. If you want to create more than a 500 calorie deficit per day then go ahead, but it will not benefit you in the long run.
How to work out the correct amount of calories for YOU
Calorie intake is different for everyone. Here I will help you to calculate the amount of calories you need daily. If you eat too little or too much you will not lose weight. Follow the formula below to find out your BMR and work out the amount of calories you need each day. If you are new to counting calories I recommend Sparkpeople or Myfitnesspal, but DO NOT use the calorie amount that they set for you as it is usually way too low.
To determine your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure), multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:
- If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
- If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
- If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
- If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
- If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
This is your ‘maintenance calories’. This is the amount of calories you need to maintain your weight with the current exercise you are doing. If you wish to lose weight, minus 500 calories from your TDEE and eat that daily, even on rest days. This is known as your ‘cut’ calories.
Lose weight SLOWLY: Slow and steady wins the race! There is no quick fix when it comes to weight-loss.
We all want to see the scale go down quickly, because lets face it, we are all impatient when it comes to weight loss! But losing too much too quickly can mean you are burning muscle, which we want to avoid as this will make weight-loss difficult in the long run. You want to aim to lose 1lb (500g) per week. Some weeks you may lose more than this, but if you are continually burning 2lb (1kg) or more each week, then it is highly likely that you are burning muscle. Even if the scale doesn’t budge for a few weeks you could still be making progress – this is why measurements and photos are a must!
Be consistent, have patience and stick with it and you will see results, I promise!
How many calories do I need if I want to maintain my weight?
To maintain your current weight: Eat at maintenance
To gain muscle: Eat at maintenance or above
To lose fat: Eat at your ‘cut’ calories
To slow down your metabolism, prevent fat loss and lose water weight: Eat below BMR