What You Must Know and Understand For Weight Loss

by Tanner M. on

Tips For Losing Weight

Lifestyle Design and Weight Loss


How to Find Out How Many Calories You Burn In a Day

Like I mentioned in my previous article “Simple Fact on How to Lose Weight,” the most important thing to remember at the end of the day is whether you burned more calories (energy expenditure) than you consumed (energy intake), this is essential for weight loss.  Basically, did you eat more calories than your body was able to burn throughout the day?  In order to get a close estimate to find out how many calories we need to consume, we will learn how to get your basal metabolic rate and apply your lifestyle and physical fitness on top of it.

Understanding Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Basically your basal metabolic rate is related to your resting metabolic rate (RMR).  It is how many calories you would burn if you did nothing throughout the day.  Your body has the capability to burn energy by various body functions such as keeping your heart pumping and digesting your food.  As you age and lose lean body mass (muscle) your BMR tends to slow down, thus weight gain.  That is why as you get older you find it harder to keep off the fat.  Increasing lean body mass leads to a faster metabolic rate.  This is why it is important to exercise and  maintain a healthy diet.  A few other factors affects people’s BMR such as prescription drugs, supplements, caffeine (leads to increase BMR however is countered by increase in the stress hormone called cortisol, which is for a later post), illnesses, and other environmental factors.

There is a formula to calculate your BMR but the simplest way to get a close estimate is to go here:

BMR Calculator

Now that you know your basal metabolic rate, we need to add on how many calories you burn in your lifestyle…

Lifestyle Design and Weight Loss

We all have different lifestyle designs.  Some people are very active, such as construction workers and professional athletes.  These people have huge calorie expenditures.  A lot of people have sedentary lifestyles, which are basically people who have desk jobs behind a computer.  These people have lower calorie expenditures.  Although it is about impossible to determine your exact caloric expenditure based on your lifestyle, we can get a close estimate from the Harris Benedict Equation.  The important thing to remember about the Harris Benedict Equation is that it does not  take into account how much lean body mass you have.  So if you are very muscular with a lot of lean body mass, this equation will underestimate your daily caloric needs.  If you are very overweight it will overestimate how many calories your body needs.  Here is how to get an estimate on your daily caloric needs:

  1. Take your BMR that you got in the previous step and determine:
    1. If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
    2. If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
    3. If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
    4. If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
    5. If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2

So if your BMR is 1700 calories and you have a desk job where you spend a majority of your day sitting, you would most likely be sedentary…Your daily caloric needs would then be 1700 x 1.2 = 2040 calories.

What this means is that your body will need (estimate) around 2,040 calories to MAINTAIN your current weight.

How to determine how many calories you burn with your exercise routine

Determining how many calories you burn while working out can be tough to gauge and results in a number of different factors such as how much lean body mass you currently have and what kind of exercise you are doing.  Just stick to your exercise program and adjust your calories depending on if you are taking steps to your goals.  Many cardio machines provide a reading based on a few input factors you punch in and you can also go here: http://www.caloriecontrol.org/healthy-weight-tool-kit/lighten-up-and-get-moving to get a close estimate to other physical activities.

So let’s say you burn 200 calories from exercise, this would bring your total caloric expenditure for the day to 2,240.

How to determine how many calories you need to lose weight

Now you know what your body needs to MAINTAIN weight, you want to know how much you should eat to lose weight.

Using the above number of 2,240 calories of daily expenditure you would then need to stay under that number to lose weight.  A common and standard number of calories to subtract are around 500 calories.  This is based on 1 pound of fat being 3,500 calories.

So if you subtracted 500 from 2,240 you would need to eat less than 1740 calories to lose 1 pound of fat a week.  You can adjust how many calories you subtract from the 2,240 or whatever the number it is you burn throughout the day based on your goals.  However, if you subtract too many calories you will burn fat along with lean body mass, thus lowering your overall BMR, which in turn will keep driving your daily caloric needs lower and lower. I recommend starting at a 500 calorie deficit and lower only once weight loss has slowed or stopped. At that point you can either increase exercise to increase your energy expenditure and lean body mass (which in turn increases your energy expenditure) or you can drop your calorie deficit.

Final Thoughts and Tips

Many people just starting out an exercise routine will notice rapid fat loss and increase in lead body mass (assuming that they are looking to lose weight and they are not overeating their caloric needs we just calculated).   These are known as “newbie gains.”  This is because your body has a surplus of energy (calories) that it can use to build muscle while burning fat.  Once your body fat percentage (will go into this in detail in a different post) drops along with your weight, you muscle gains will slow and so will fat loss.  Do not give up then you just need to adjust things up.

Also, if what you are currently doing is not working then this tells you 1 thing: Simply you need to change something. You need to change your current approach and find out a new strategy to your weight loss/weight gain goals.  Adjust your calories and see if anything changes.

Soon I will be writing about certain supplements that can help break through plateaus, only after you have exhausted your nutrition and fitness approaches.

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