How Many Calories Should I Eat to Lose Weight FAST? The question on every dieters lips…
“Calories” are getting a bad rep and faddy dieters are partly to be blamed for this.
Most of us these days casually throw the word around without actually getting the whole picture.
Why are we counting calories?
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Or better yet, why are we even avoiding them at all costs?
We keep seeing calories in a bad light because not everyone knows the deal.
All we know is that calories make us fat and too much of them will hinder our fitness efforts.
People who are new to dieting and healthy lifestyle are often heard asking, “How many calories should I eat to lose weight?” believing that the term is referring to food.
I used to be like this, especially since I knew I should be concerned over anything that has to do with gaining and losing weight.
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But today, I’ve decided to set things clear so I can really help you get the results you deserve.
What Are Calories?
Thermodynamics saw the first coining of the term “calorie” to refer to the unit of energy used to measure the heat required to raise a gram of water by 1°C.
But because of its involvement in the bodily processes and in particular, food and diet, it eventually became a household name.
When someone says “calories” within the context of food intake, it almost always means that he’s referring to kilocalories or the “large calorie”.
Kilocalories are used to measure the amount of energy that one can get out of eating a particular food or drinking a particular beverage.
To avoid confusion, dieticians and fitness coaches simply refer to these as “food calories”.
In terms of dieting, people normally talk about calories in terms of food quantity and it is a triggering factor among obsessive-compulsive dieters who prefer to count their way towards a leaner figure.
Hence, when somebody asks, “How many calories should I eat to lose weight quick?” what he actually means is how much food he is allowed to eat, relative to the amount of calories that the body needs to burn.
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By “burning” these calories, the body gets its fuel for functioning.
The slimming down and weight loss only happen when these calories, after being stored as fats for a certain time, are burned through engaging in a calorie deficit diet and/or intense physical activity such as exercise.
So you see, calories aren’t really bad, but we’ll discuss more about it in the next sections.
How Many Calories Do You Need Each Day?
Counting calories matters in weight management, whether you need to lose or gain pounds.
As for weight loss, you need to consume less calories than your body burns for its vital functions.
On average, the recommended calorie intake for women is 1500 while men need to consume 2000 calories a day—both for losing approximately 1 pound a week.
However, these figures aren’t conclusive.
Determining factors typically include current weight, height, activity levels and metabolic rate, among a few others.
This means you have to manually calculate your calorie requirement.
How to Calculate My TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure)
To know your TDEE, you need to establish your basal metabolic rate (BMR) which determines your metabolic rate at rest based on your age, sex and built.
In other words, your BMR represents the amount of calories you burn just being alive.
Here is the equation for determining your BMR:
Women = 655 + (4.5 multiplied by your weight in lbs) + (4.7 multiplied by your height in inches) – (4.7 multiplied by your age in years)
Men = 66 + (6.23 multiplied by weight in lbs) + (12.7 multiplied by height in inches) – (6.8 multiplied by your age in years)
By the way, if you’re wondering why there’s a slight difference in the figures for men and women, it is because men burn more calories due to their build and amount of muscle in their bodies as compared to women who have lesser need for body fuel.
Now, that’s just a part of the whole TDEE equation.
The other part involves determining your AMR or the active metabolic rate.
As the term implies, this value represents your metabolic rate when you’re on the move or engaged in a physical activity.
It can be derived by multiplying your BMR by a specific amount that corresponds to a level of activity.
Refer to the list below for specific activity levels that you can use to determine your AMR.
Little to no exercise: Your BMR x 1.2
Light Active (engaged in exercise at least 1-3 days per week): Your BMR x 1.375
Moderately Active (engaged in exercise 3-5 days per week): Your BMR x 1.55
Active (engaged in exercise daily): Your BMR x 1.725
Very Active (engaged in hardcore daily exercise): Your BMR x 1.9
Now once you derived your AMR, it should give you an idea of how many calories you need to consume per day to maintain your current weight.
If you’re planning to lose pounds, you must increase your activity level or alternately, decrease your calorie intake.
How to Use a Calorie Counter
I know you probably feel a bit overwhelmed with the aforementioned figures that you need to manually derive.
I mean who wants to do complicated maths when you can use a calculator? (Despite what our school teachers used to tell us!)
So that’s why I created a Weight Loss Calculator to save you time and headache.
This Daily Calorie Calculator takes the hassle out of counting your calorie intake by simply allowing you to input details such as your age, gender, height, current weight and activity level.
Your energy expenditure will be computed automatically for you once you selected the kind of activity which you are likely to engage in on a daily basis.
If you are not sure how much physical activity you exert on a regular, you can simply choose a conservative estimate so you can get better results.
How Many Calories Do I Need to Eat to Lose Weight FAST?
Dieticians recommend that you limit your daily calorie intake to 1500 if your aim is to lose 1 pound of weight in a week.
That’s a healthy estimate and is proven safe.
Although there are instances where individuals can actually lose more than 1 pound in a week, that doesn’t mean you should consume calories way below the prescribed limit.
Anything less than 1200 calories is considered risky by nutritionists and fitness coaches as these may pose health issues such as gallstones and fatigue.
Remember that your aim is to lose weight, not to feel weak.
If you ask, “How many calories should I eat to lose weight fast?” you are more or less expecting a definite answer.
But the truth is, you should also ask how safe the calorie intake can be for your health.
Why the Quality of the Calories Matters Just As Much As Quantity
You probably learned in school about the three macronutrients namely protein, carbohydrate and fat.
All three food groups have their respective amounts of calories which make them different from one another.
But the problem lies in not knowing what particular food items from these three groups are worth consuming calories from.
Protein and carbohydrate each contain 4 calories per gram.
But that doesn’t necessarily make them healthier than fat, which has 9 calories per gram.
Thus, the key to effective weight loss is not just counting the calories, but also scrutinizing the quality of calories you are getting.
Dieticians have referred to foods as “empty calories” when they do contain calories but having no other nutritional value to gain from.
These include refined carbohydrates in form of white bread, pasta, cookies and white rice, among many others.
This is why most dieters try to avoid too many refined carbs.
On the other hand, fats, which are often believed to ruin a diet, are actually beneficial depending on the amount and source.
For example, the polyunsaturated fats from flax seeds and vegetable oils actually help you maintain a healthy heart.
Women, especially need to get at least 15-20% of fat in their diet to maintain healthy hormone balance in the body.
Same as with proteins; they also help you gain muscle that are necessary for burning stored fats.
So you see, it all boils down to careful choices.
Calories can be good or bad, depending on their nutritional value aside from providing your body with energy reserves.
Calories play a vital role in our bodily functions.
But not because weight loss entails limited calorie intake does it automatically means you should avoid them altogether.
Instead, you should focus not only on counting your calories, but also on the quality of calories which you are planning to consume.
Food varies by nutritional value so as much as possible you should aim to consume the ones with manageable amounts of calories yet helping you improve your overall health.
In my weight loss meal planning system, The Leaf System, the meal plans are specifically developed to be low enough in calories to help you consistently lose weight, but not too low that it would cause a drop in energy.
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