Are you trying to lose weight? Then, you might also be trying to count your calories while you’re dieting! Isn’t it? Well, based on the comments we’re getting on our blog, it is pretty clear that most of you are counting the calories wrong. So, I’ve decided to write a detailed article describing the proper way to count calories for efficient weight loss results or even for maintaining your weight.
For that, we should start from the basics to understand the concept clearly. As you know, one should burn more calories than the amount of calories consumed in order to lose weight. This becomes vice-versa if you’re looking to gain weight. And if you wanted to maintain your current body weight, then the calorie consumption and calorie intake should be equal. So, it is evident that no matter what you wanted to achieve w.r.t your body weight, you should definitely count the calories wisely.
How to Count Calories for Weight Loss?
To explain this, let us do some mathematical calculations. For easy understanding, I’ve divided this into 4 categories.
1. Decide your Goal
First of all, decide your goal. For that to achieve, you should ask yourself these questions.
- How much weight you wanted to lose?
- By when should you want to lose?
That being said, you should always decide attainable or realistic goals. For example, if you wanted to lose 20 pounds in 30 days, then it is not achievable and unrealistic. Please know that to lose 1 single pound, you’ll need to burn 3500 calories. So, if you wanted to lose 20 pounds, then you should lose around 70,000 calories, which is not at all possible without spoiling your health.
The recommended and safest way to lose weight is to shed 2 to 3 pounds a week. If you try to lose weight faster, then there are chances that you put the lost weight quickly too.
2. Know your BMR
BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate helps you know how many calories your body requires per day in order to survive (or maintain) without you doing anything. So, take out your calculator and do this math. Please note that the BMR calculation is different for Men and Women.
English BMR Formula
- BMR for Men: 66 + (6.23 x your weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
- BMR for Women: 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
Metric BMR Formula
- BMR for Men: 66 + (13.7 x weight in kgs) + (5 x height in cms) – (6.8 x age in yrs)
- BMR for Women: 655 + (9.6 x weight in kgs) + (1.8 x height in cms) – (4.7 x age in yrs)
Based on the above formula, let us calculate my BMR through metric BMR formula.
- Weight: 72 kgs or 159 lbs
- Height: 68.4 inches or 174 cms
- Age: 27
- Gender: Female
BMR = 655 + (9.6 x 72) + (1.8 x 174) – (4.7 x 27) = 655 + 691.2 + 313.2 – 126.9 = 1532.5
That means, my estimated BMR is 1532.5 calories. This tells me that my body burns around 1532 calories with me sitting idle. Even if I stay still, the whole day, I shall burn those 1532 calories easily. So, if I stick to this quantity, I won’t put on any weight. To lose weight, I can reduce some calories and vice-versa to gain some.
3. What is your Activity Level?
However, this won’t be our lifestyle as no one would just sit or sleep the whole day long. We’ll definitely perform some activities in our daily life. So, it would give us a correct idea on the number of calories we needed per day, if we include our activity levels in the formula. To find it out, you should calculate your BMR with your activity level (from the below scenario).
A. I do very little or no exercise at all: 1.2
B. I’m lightly active and perform workouts 1 to 3 times per week: 1.375
C. I’m moderately active and do exercise 3 to 5 times per week: 1.55
D. I’m very active and workout 6 to 7 times per week: 1.725
E. I’m a pro-athlete: 1.9
F. I live and sleep in the GYM: Don’t worry! You won’t put on any weight.
I fall into the third category ‘C’ and to calculate my total calorie requirement; I just need to multiply my BMR x 1.55, which is 1532.5 x 1.55 = 2375 calories.
That said, if I wanted to lose weight, then I can decrease the calorie consumption to 1800 calories from diet and burn 300 to 500 calories through the workout. Doing so, I’m creating a calorie deficit of around 800 to 1000 calories per day. That means, on average, I lose 1000 x 7= 7000 calories or 2 pounds per week, which is considered as a healthy weight loss.
4. Design Your Weight Loss Plan
Now that you’ve found all the formulas, it is time for you to design your exact weight loss plan for success. Let us take a simple example of mine for better understanding.
I’m a 27 year old female who is moderately active, weighs 72 kilos and my height is 174 centimeters. Based on my height, my ideal weight is around 65 kilos. That means, I should lose around 7 kilos to be termed as fit and healthy. So, based on our formula, let us find out how many days will it take for me to lose those 7 kgs without affecting my health.
BMR = 1532.5 calories; Since, I’m moderately active, my BMR = 1532.5 x 1.55 = 2375 calories. As I am trying to lose at least 7 kgs or 15 pounds, let me do the math and see.
1 KG = 2.2 lbs and 7 kgs = ~15 lbs;
1 lb = 3,500 calories; 15 lbs = 15 x 3,500 = 52,500 calories.
Since, cutting down 52,500 calories in a day or week is not possible, let us find the realistic date to achieve our goal. As per my activity level, if I burn around 1000 calories day (600 from diet & 400 through exercise), then I burn about 7000 calories per week or 2 pounds per week.
So, to lose 15 pounds, it takes me about 15/2 = 7.5 weeks or ~ 50 days to reach my ideal weight, that too without my health being affected.
Now, it is time for you to calculate your calorie needs and set up a realistic goal.
For a healthy weight loss, it is always recommended to follow a healthy lifestyle along with regular workouts. Diet or exercise alone can’t bring effective results. Always remember that the more muscle you build up, the higher your metabolism would be and the better the metabolic rate, the quicker you lose weight.
In case if you find it difficult to calculate your BMR, please leave your details in the comment section using the below format and we’ll do the math for you.
Format: Age, gender, weight, height and activity level.