Introduction: Calories in Vs. Calories Out:
There are a lot of trendy diets on the market. All of them claim to offer a neat little trick that will make weight loss easier. In other words, they offer a shortcut. As the old saying goes; “Shortcuts make for long delays.” In the end, your daily caloric intake is always going to be the most important factor. There are certain little tricks that can make the process easier, but without control of your calorie intake, it will all be in vain. Your daily caloric output consists of the number of calories you burn in a single day, and it is also very important.
Scenario 1: Caloric Surplus
A calorie surplus occurs when your caloric intake is greater than your caloric usage. With nowhere to go, the extra calories are stored. The body can store them as either fat or muscle. Most of the time, the body tends to store this extra energy as fat. Only under certain circumstances will it be converted into muscle.
Scenario 2: Caloric Deficit
A caloric deficit occurs when you are using up more calories than you are eating. The obvious consequence is weight loss, but muscle loss can also occur. Most of the time, the body tends to burn fat before muscle.
Scenario 3: Maintenance:
Maintenance occurs when a person is eating just enough calories to maintain their body weight. No more, no less. Obviously, this is kind of rare. However, you still need to figure out your maintenance level because this will serve as a baseline reading. This baseline will indicate if you are eating too many calories, or too few.
Calculating Your Maintenance Level:
To calculate the amount of energy that your body burns in a day is very difficult, because of all the variations between people, their bodies, and their daily routines. To try and get an exact number, you would need to account for:
- Your metabolic rate
- How much exercise you do on a daily basis
- How many calories your body burns during digestion
- Energy used by the body for unconscious processes
Instead, you can just use this simple formula to get an approximate number:
Your body weight in pounds X 12-18
This means that you multiply your weight in pounds by 12 and also by 18. Your maintenance range falls between those two numbers. As long as you are in there somewhere, you should be neither gaining nor losing weight.
How many Calories A Day To Lose Weight?
You already know that the only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you eat. You’re probably wondering how much of a deficit you actually need. For the average person, it is best to shoot for a 10-25% caloric deficit. This will generally cause you to lose 0.5-2 pounds per week. This is a good range because if you go much higher, you will compromise your health.
What Range Should I Stick To?
So, you know that a 10-25% deficit is ideal. But where in that range should you try to be? This is a simple question, though it may seem difficult. You just have to determine how quickly you want or need to lose the weight. If you are happy with a gradual weight loss, shoot for a 10% deficit. Slow weight loss is easier on the body anyway. If you really need to lose it quickly, jack it down to a 25% deficit. Don’t go any lower than 25%.
How Does Exercise Come Into Play?
Well, exercise is one of two things that create a caloric deficit. When you want to lose weight, eating less and exercising more is the ticket. If you exercise more, you can get away with eating a little bit more. A person could actually lose weight through only eating fewer calories, or through exercise alone, but combining the two is like a leverage move, which will bring results much more quickly. This helpful chart will give you a good idea about how many calories you can expect to burn in a half-hour of physical activity.
How Many Calories A Day To Gain Muscle?
Many people do not understand that the body stores energy in the muscles just as it stores energy in fat. As such, a caloric surplus is required for muscle gain. You certainly cannot gain muscle if you aren’t eating enough to maintain your weight and then some. For muscle gain, a man should eat about 200 calories a day above maintenance level, while a woman should eat 100 calories above maintenance level. Of course, these are approximate numbers. They may have to be adjusted for your habits and body type.
The Most Important Step:
Now that you have figured out all these numbers, it should be noted that these are average numbers. In order to adjust them so that they will be exact, you will need to weigh yourself every day and average the numbers at the end of the week. Your estimates are best judged by their results, and without careful monitoring of your weight, this is not possible.
The entire process of developing a weight-loss plan can be separated into four steps:
- Figure out your approximate maintenance level.
- Decide if you want to create a deficit or a surplus.
- Decide how much of a deficit or surplus you wish to create.
- Check your weight every day and analyze the results. Modify as needed.
Next, you should probably figure out your ideal levels of protein, fat, and carbs. Don’t worry, though, because technology has made it easy for you. Download MyFitnessPal. There is a free and a premium version. I find this to be one of the best nutrition apps available on the market. Be sure to stay tuned and follow us on Facebook, as we will be giving an in-depth review on the app along with suggestions on how best to configure it for your fitness goals.