Without a doubt the most important factor when it comes to losing weight/ body fat is energy balance. What is energy balance you say? Put it simply, to be losing weight you need to be in a calorie deficit, burning more calories than you consume.
It really is that simple, but is so often overlooked. You could be training every day, but have no idea how many calories you’re consuming on a daily basis, so all that training can become ineffective. If you’re in a calorie surplus (eating more calories than you burn) you will not lose weight.
So when people say calories don’t matter, well it really does, because you could be eating a lot of “healthy” foods but still be in a calorie surplus, not what you want if you’re trying to lose weight.
Now we need to find out how many calories you need to be consuming every day in order to be losing weight. There are a lot of calorie calculators out there and fancy equations but we’ll keep it as uncomplicated as possible. Please note that these calories will not be 100% accurate and I’m not saying you need to be hitting these calories to the exact number in order to lose body fat. It’s there as a target, if you go over or under a little it’s not going to ruin all your progress.
- Simply take your bodyweight in pounds and multiply this by 11-14.
- Multiply it by 11 if you’re sedentary most of the day (desk job) and do little to no exercise.
- Multiply it by 12 if you have a relatively active job (postman, retail, labourer etc...) or have sedentary job and train 2-3 times a week.
- Multiply it by 13 if you have an active job and train 2-3 times a week or have a sedentary job and train at an intense level (weight training, playing for a sports team) 4-6 times a week.
- Multiply it by 14 if you have an active job and train intensely 4-6 times a week or you’re a high athlete training every day.
From this simple bit of maths you should have come up with a number. Remember that number because that’s the amount of calories you need to be eating in order to lose weight and body fat. Remember this is a rough target, it’s not 100% accurate and you don’t have to hit it dead on every day.
Let’s use myself as an example. I weigh 167 lbs. I’m pretty active and train 5-6 times a week with the majority of my training coming from weight training, with the odd bit of cardio. So I need to do 167x14. That equals 2338. That’s the amount of calories I would have to consume, roughly, in order to lose weight and cut body fat.
You now may be thinking, “So what happens when progress stalls?” Again, this is nice and simple. Take small percentages off the total calories you got from the above equation. Start small, 5-10% every 2-3 weeks, you don’t want to reduce them drastically too quickly or you’ll have nowhere to go, and have no energy, which will affect your performance in the gym and you’ll fall off the wagon so to speak.
Or if you don’t want to sacrifice food, then just increase activity in the gym, add in an extra cardio session or weights session. Do this until you hit your target weight goal that you set out for yourself.
Now here’s the important part. You need to track your calorie intake. The best way to do this is to use an app called “My Fitness Pal”, it free and pretty easy to use. Or if you want to go old school, simply write down the amount of calories you eat with each meal or snack, but this can be very time consuming, as you’ll have to read the nutritional content on the back.
Focus on calories first and give yourself a week or so to get used to tracking the calories you're consuming, whatever method you may use. Then you’ll know if you were over eating, under eating or maintaining weight. In part 2 we will talk about working out and tracking the amount of macronutrients that make up these calories. So your protein, fat and carbohydrate intake.
Knowing how many calories you’re consuming is key and will make a big impact on your training goals. We’ve personally been working out my calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates intake and tracking this since the start of the year. The difference it’s made in my training and progress has been amazing. So I urge you to do the same!