Counting Calories To Lose Weight

3 methods to calculate the amount of calories needed to lose weight

There are many ways to determine your daily calories needed to lose weight, but I'm going to show you the three most popular methods.

For men and women, the average intake of calories to lose weight is--

Men: 2200-2700 calories
Women: 1400-1800 calories

If you want to take the real easy route you can simply choose a number that fits within those averages, but stay with me...

I'm going to give you more accurate ways to determine how many calories you should eat.

The number of calories required for weight loss is an individual thing. The formulas that I'm going to show you will take the following factors into account…

Six Factors That Influence Your Calorie Requirements

1. Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) - BMR is the total number of calories your body uses up for all of its normal functions. Later I’ll show you how to determine your BMR.

2. Activity Level

3. Weight

4. Lean Body Mass (LBM) – Your lean body mass is your weight minus the fat. I’m going to show you how to figure this out as well.

5. Age

6. Gender

How To Calculate Your Calorie Intake To Lose Weight

The first step to figure your calories per day is to calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE for short).

You're going to choose one of these three popular formulas to figure this out:

1. The Quick and Easy Formula (least accurate)
2. The Harris-Benedict Formula (more accurate)
3. The Katch-McArdle Formula (most accurate)

Formulas 2 and 3 will appear to be difficult at first glance. Trust me, you'll have enough info to make the calculations easy.

You probably want to skim through each formula before you choose the one you're going to use.

Method #1 The Quick Formula

The formula is 12 - 13 calories per pound of body weight. Here's how it looks:

12 or 13 x your body weight

Very simple right? BUT, it is less accurate than the other two formulas I will cover.

Here’s why its flawed…

Let’s say you’re a not-so-active 40 year old woman and you weigh 250 pounds.

You would multiply 250 x 13 which would make your TDEE 3250.

Umm, if you eat that many calories per day without getting lots of activity chances are you'll gain weight at a rapid pace.

Basically, using this quick formula will overestimate your calorie needs if your weight is way higher than average.

If your weight is closer to average, you can use this formula for a decent estimate of the calories needed to lose weight.

Method #2 The Harris-Benedict Formula

The Harris Benedict equation uses your height, weight, age, and sex to determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR).

This equation is more accurate than the quick formula above – unless you’re extremely overweight (will overestimate your needs) or extremely muscular (will underestimate your needs).

You will need to calculate your weight in kilograms and your height in centimeters to complete the formula below.

Men: BMR = 66 + (13.7 X weight in kg) + (5 X height in cm) - (6.8 X age)

Women: BMR = 655 + (9.6 X weight in kg) + (1.8 X height in cm) - (4.7 X age)

Now that you have your BMR, use the activity multipler that best describes your life:

Activity Multipliers

Sedentary = BMR X 1.2 (little to no exercise; desk job)

A little active = BMR X 1.375 (light exercise and/or sports 1-3 days/wk)

Moderately active = BMR X 1.55 (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/wk)

Very active = BMR X 1.725 (hard exercise or sports 6-7 days/wk)

Extremely active = BMR X 1.9 (daily intense exercise/sports + a physical job)

For example, if your BMR is 1900 calories and you're a very active person, your math would be: 1900 x 1.725

After you’ve done the math you’ll have your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). Shortly I’ll tell you what to do with this number.

First, let’s look at our third method of figuring out your TDEE…

Method #3 The Katch-McArdle Formula:

The most accurate equation is the Katch-McArdle Formula. It requires you to measure your body composition/body fat percentage first.

The steps are the same whether you're a man or woman.

This will seem long, but believe me it's really not complicated...

To measure your body fat, you can

1) Go to a local gym or ymca and try to get the assistance of a Trainer, or
2) Do it yourself at home

To do it yourself, you'll need a device which you can order online or pick up at your local sports equipment store. See this article for more info.

After you find out your body fat percentage, the calculations look like this:

weight x body fat percentage (in decimal form) = body fat in pounds
(if your body fat is 15.5, it would be weight x .155)

weight - body fat in pounds = lean body mass (LBM)

Convert your lean body mass into kg:

LBM ÷ 2.2 = LBM in kg

Figure out your BMR (basal metabolic rate):

370 + (21.6 x lean mass in kg) = BMR

Determine your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure):

BMR x your activity factor (see above) = TDEE

So if you weigh 180 pounds with 15.5% body fat and you're moderately active, your calculations would look like this:

180 x .155 = 27.9 (pounds of body fat)
180 - 27.9 = 152.1 (lean body mass)
152.1 / 2.2 = 69 (kg)
370 + (21.6 x 69) = 1860.4 (BMR)
1860.4 x 1.55 (activity factor) = 2884 calories (TDEE)

Finding Your Calories Needed to Lose Weight

To lose weight and burn fat, either

• subtract around 500 calories from your TDEE or
• reduce your calories by 15-20% below TDEE as a start.

A bigger drop might be necessary for some. You determine this by paying attention to your results.

Alternatively, you can increase your activity instead of reducing your calories.

As a woman, calorie intake shouldn’t go below around 1200 calories. Men should ideally not go below around 1800 calories per day.

Monitor Your Results!

The numbers you come up with here are merely estimates to give you a starting point.

That means your work is never really done. Monitor your results on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Keep track of your

    • calorie intake,
    • body weight, and
    • your body fat percentage.
If you’re not getting the results you want you’ll need to adjust your caloric intake and or your exercise program.

Counting calories to lose weight isn't a mandatory thing, but you'll likely get much better results if you do.

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