Think you are getting enough calories everyday?
How many think of you might be taking in too many or too little?
Consider Your Goals
Depending on your goals, you need to make sure that you are taking in the proper amount to keep your body moving in the direction you desire. If that means losing weight, you need to be at a calorie deficit, if it means gaining weight, then at a calorie surplus.
Several people have a hard time coming to the conclusion that if you aren’t burning more calories than you take in, you will GAIN weight. And depending on the type of calories will determine how that weight is gained; muscle or fat!
Calculate Your BMR
Before you can determine what you need to consume and then burn, you first need to determine your BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate. There are many places on the web that you can find you BMR, but this is the one that I typically refer people to:
Once you have your BMR then you need to get your calorie burn if you were to do nothing more than lie in bed or on the couch all day, basically just breathing, pumping blood and digesting food. Again, there are a number of formulas that you can use, but I use the Harris Benedict Equation, which can be found here:
Calorie Deficit Explained
The calories you need ( for a male in his mid-30s standing 5’9″ and at a weight of 160 lbs ) just to keep your body going if you were just laying in bed doing absolutely nothing would be approximately 1714 calories +/-. These would be the calories to that your body would use to keep your vital organ running ie: heart, lungs, digestive system etc. etc. As you lose weight that number will change and you will have to tweak your calories to take it consideration future weight loss.
Here is the breakdown of calories.
- Sedentary (BMR * 1.2) – 2057 calories
- Lightly Active (BMR * 1.375) – 2357 calories
- Moderately Active (BMR * 1.55) – 2656 calories
- Very Active (BMR * 1.725) – 2957 calories
- Extra or Extremely Active (BMR * 1.9) – 3257 calories
Let me explain what each of the categories are.
1. If you are sedentary – little or no exercise
2. If you are lightly active – light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week
3. If you are moderately active – moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week
4. If you are very active – hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week
5. If you are extremely active – very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training
Beachbody estimates that you will burn about 600 calories per workout using P90X or slightly less with P90X3. Everyone is different so someone people burn more, some people burn less. I happen to burn less than 600 calories when I was doing certain exercises in P90X, so I used the numbers contained in the lightly active category and the moderately active category and used the average of those. On the days that I burned more than 600 calories, I considered that a bonus, on the days that I burned less than 600 calories, by taking the average of the two I still maintained a calorie deficit that was consistent with my activity.
So you would have to take a calorie deficit to lose weight. How much of a deficit would you take? 1 lb is equal to 3500 calories. Therefore if you take a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day you will lose 1 lb a week. There is the mathematical equation for that. (500 calories X 7 days = 3500 calories ) ie: 1 lb per week. Taking a calorie deficit of 1000 calories per day will give you cause your body to lose approximately 2 lbs per week.
Calorie Deficit Example
With a calorie deficit of 1000 calories per day that would give you the following:
- Sedentary – 1057 calories ( Now this would be too low since the minimum you need to keep your body functioning is 1714)
- Lightly Active – 1357 calories ( Again this is bad because this would also drop you below the 1714 minimum you need to keep your body functioning, so instead you might want to take a calorie deficit of 500 or 750 in this range )
- Moderately Active – 1657 calories
- Very Active – 1957 calories
- Extremely Active – 2257 calories
Now as I said, everyone is different so if you go extreme and want to take a 1000 calorie deficit and you find you are not losing weight you will need to up those calories. Furthermore if you find yourself feeling sluggish or can’t get through a workout you need to up those calories. Be mindful that you SHOULD NOT drop below your BMR ( Basel Metabolic Rate ) of 1714. If you go to low and your body will start storing fat. Go to high and the excess calories you take in that are not used will also be stored as far.
Think of this process as floors of a 3 floor building. The bottom floor ( the lowest ) is where your body is going to start storing calories for fuel. This will happen when you drop below your BMR. This is why you hear about the people who go on these extreme low calorie diets, lose weight ( initially because the body eats its own fat for fuel ) but then can’t sustain that weight loss ( body starts storing extra calories as fat) because their body is adapting to the low calorie intake. When this happens your body lowers its metabolism and stores fat. In essence they are hanging out on the bottom floor…
The second floor is the “fat burning” floor where you want to hang out in. The top floor is where your body is taking in too many calories ( taking in more calories than it can burn) the excess is going to be stored as fat. So you are going to gain weight.
It will take some tweaking but once you get your calories adjusted, you should be able to maintain yourself in the “fat burning” mode.
I hope that this has explained to you in more general terms the effect of your calorie intake can either help or hurt you in achieving your goals. Obviously, a few extra or less calories per day will not drastically change the outcome of your results, but with this information in hand, you should be able to better dial in your nutrition numbers and feel better about how or why you are doing with either losing or gaining weight.
I’d love some feedback on this, submit your comments below!
Need a Coach?
If you need to find someone that will hold you accountable, answer your questions, help you, and PUSH YOU for the entire duration of your workout! Luckily for you, that’s what me and my team are here for. If you don’t have a coach yet and want one, I’d love to be your coach and help you through a fitness program. I am available to help you reach your goals!