Getting your daily calories right is crucial in both losing fat and especially in getting lean. The process of losing weight really does come down to “calories in vs calories out” which means your body must be expending more daily calories (burning more energy) that it’s getting.
The problem with the rule is that your body uses calories (heat energy) differently as you become leaner. Understanding how your body processes and releases energy is key to getting results and the only way to know that is through a lot of hard work and experimentation.
There’s simply no one equation that works for all people. You are unique and though your goals may be the same as another, your body is different.
Let’s look at some general guidelines for establishing how many calories you need to lose fat.
If your body fat is well above 15%, you will likely not have nearly as many problems losing fat as someone who is around 10% and trying to drop more fat.
This is great news for those that are carrying a bit more extra weight. A strong commitment to healthy eating principles can get you significant results.
If you’re struggling with how many calories you should eat daily (and you are in this 15% or high range), a good rule of thumb is to start by multiplying your weight by 15 and that’s your daily calorie limit.
If you weigh 280, eat 4200 calories a day. This is a starting point only and as you lose weight, you’ll hit plateaus like everyone who is on the road to lose more.
I even advise to not engage in cardio at first. It’s best to see if you are gaining/losing or maintaining weight at this calorie ratio. After a couple weeks, make adjustments. Drop calories slightly and continue getting results.
After a month or so (depending on your goals), add some cardio in as an option and add weight-lifting in as a requirement. Shoot for 3 days a week and watch the fat fall off.
If you’re body fat is around 12% or lower, compute your daily caloric intake at around 11-13 times your weight. If you weigh 200 lbs at 12% body fat, a great starting point is 2400 calories a day.
Ready to get really lean? Getting under 10% body fat is where extreme discipline comes in. For some, the occasional cheat meal is fine but for many people (especially those who have fought with body fat for years), only a strict “no-cheating” diet will yield results.
And it gets tougher..
Macro-nutrients have to be just right. How many of your daily calories are coming from fat, protein and carbs? Playing with the percentages is crucial to results.
As you lean out more and more, the calories need to keep dropping as well. Going as low as 8 to 10X your body weight is the realistic daily calorie intake you’re looking at. At 160 lbs and 9% body fat, that’s as low as 1300 calories a day for results!
That’s tough but hey.. How bad do you want it?
It’s also at this point that carb cycling and the occasional re-feed day might need to be integrated.
If you have a lot of body fat, simply changing your diet up is going to give some quick, noticeable results. If you’re already lean, and trying to burn that last little bit of fat, you’re going to have to work even harder.
Both roads have their share of challenges as heavier people usually have an addiction to insulin they must first overcome. Anyone who has ever been addicted to sugar knows how tough this addiction can be. Still.. it must be overcome and it can be.
The rewards are great and the psychological benefits are rewarding like few other goals you will ever accomplish.
Discipline and commitment. See you on the lean side…