I have come across this article by John Timmerman. Joe is a sport specific performance and fitness coach. He is also the Founder and President of The New Fit.
Calorie requirements vary from person to person. No two people have the same requirements. This is because we all have different body types and activity levels. So how can you find out what you need to do to fix your diet for fat loss?
Calories needed for maintenance
Well first we need to calculate out your body’s calorie requirements for maintenance. This is the amount of calories that you body needs to support your current activity levels and body .
Now I know what you thinking, calculations give you a headache. Me too, so I will only throw the necessary ones at you. Below you will find the basic equations you need to figure out your body’s caloric requirements are to function properly. After that we will look at how to optimize these calories for fat loss.
First step – Calculate your lean mass
Lean Body Mass = [(100 – % body fat) / 100] x body (lbs)
Example: [(100 – 10) / 100)] x 170 = 153
Second step – Calculate your BMR
Katch-McArdle Formula for BMR = 370 + (9.82 X lean mass in lbs)
Example: 370 + (9.82 X 153) = 1872
Third Step – Calculate in your activity level
1. Sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
2. Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
3. Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
4. Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
5. Extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
Example: 1872 X 1.55 = 2902 (this is my daily calorie requirement)
Now I do not expect you to use this information as a bible and count calories on everything that you eat (especially if you are extremely over , diabetic or have any other condition…I’m no doctor), but it can serve as a guideline for your meal choices.
Now you have a maintenance calorie amount
So now that you know your calorie requirement, how should you alter this to lose fat? Well this is highly individual and depends on many factors like you activity levels and the types of nutrients that you are eating. I would not drop you calories too far from your daily calorie requirements in order to keep your body operating at optimal performance.
You must however, drop them a bit in order to maximize fat loss. A good guideline is to know that a pound of fat equals 3500 calories. So if you want to lose 1 pound of fat per week you would reduce your daily calorie intake by 500 a day. (Note: I would not recommend reducing daily calorie intake by more than 500 a day, instead increase activity levels and experiment with this first).
Get enough nutrients
Lastly, but most important is to have the right amounts of nutrients in your diet. This is also highly individual because of genetic reasons. YOU MUST EXPERIMENT WITH THIS ON YOUR OWN. There are several ways that you can optimize your nutrient intake.
1. High carb, low fat, moderate protein – (generally works for people with higher metabolisms)
2. Low carb, moderate fat, high protein – (generally works for people with moderate to low metabolisms)
Again this is dependent on your body type and genetic background so experiment with both.
I tried to keep this article as simple as possible, but equations get tricky. Moral of the story is calculate your calorie requirements, reduce your intake by small amounts at a time and experiment with your nutrient levels to find the best option for you.
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