The fact that you clicked into this video tells me that you know the importance of calories for fat loss, regardless of how “clean” your diet may be. And you likely also understand that in order for fat loss to occur, you need to be eating in a caloric deficit to force your body to start burning its stored fat. Now, a fat loss diet sounds simple in theory, but in practice people often screw up their calorie intake for weight loss. In today’s video, I’ll clear up the confusion for you. I’ll show you how to pinpoint exactly how many calories your specific body needs a day to lose weight–while maximizing your fat loss and minimizing negative side effects (e.g. muscle loss).
The first step is to get a general estimate of your calorie intake for weight loss. Now, even the most “accurate” of calorie intake equations out there are all estimates. They all require some fine tuning based on how you progress, which is what we’ll do in step 2. To avoid overcomplicating things, what I’d recommend is take your bodyweight in lbs, and multiply that by anywhere from 10-13. If you’re a younger, leaner, and/or more active individual then go with the higher end of this range. If you’re an older, less lean, and/or less active individual then go with the lower end of this range.
The next step is to determine what an appropriate rate of weight loss would be based on your specific body. This is important for us to get right because if we eat in an overly aggressive caloric deficit and lose weight too quickly, not only is this unsustainable for most of us in the long run, but it also puts us at a greater risk for muscle loss. Maintaining your muscle mass as you diet needs to be your priority. We can do this by sticking to a weight loss of no more than 0.5-1% of bodyweight loss per week. That said, the more body fat you have to lose, the faster you can lose fat without risking muscle loss. So what you can do is to take your current estimated body fat percentage, and divide that by 20. The number you get will be a more accurate % rate of weight loss that you’ll want to aim for per week.
Once you have the number of calories for fat loss down, it’s time to implement and fine tune it with step 3. Start adhering to and monitoring your daily calorie intake as well as tracking your morning bodyweight. After about 4 weeks of tracking, analyze the data. We can often dismiss Week 1 since most people will lose quite a bit of water weight during this initial period of dieting. But in the following weeks, we’ll want to look more closely at the numbers. Look at how your weight has changed relative to your calorie intake. Science aside, if your recommended rate of weight loss is 2lbs per week, yet you just personally find this too aggressive, then slow it down. Stick with a rate of weight loss that’s sustainable. That’s ultimately what’s most important for long term success.
There’s one all too common mistake that people make with their fat loss diet you’ll want to avoid, which is attempting to eat back the calories you burn from exercise in general. Fitness trackers, cardio machines, and even us as humans are terrible at estimating the calories we burn through exercise and almost always overestimate it by at least 20%. And secondly, the 3 step method mentioned above already accounts for the calories you burn from physical activity and throughout the day. If you do end up losing weight too quickly because of your additional exercise, then you would just adjust this by eating more as we discussed earlier.
So, to wrap everything up, here’s a step by step example of how you could start calculating – and implementing – how many calories you need to lose weight:
1. Determine what your estimated calorie intake should be to lose fat based on the simple equation outlined in step 1.
2. Then, determine what your optimal rate of weight loss should be based on the simple equation outlined in step 2.
3. Finally, implement this while monitoring how your weight progresses throughout the weeks and if needed, adjust your calorie intake so that your actual rate of weight loss is closer to your target.
And that’s pretty much all there is to it! This does however assume that you’re tracking accurately in the first place and being consistent with your activity levels, so don’t overlook these other variables as well. And for a step-by-step program that shows you how to easily set up, track, and monitor each of these important variables while equipping you with a science-based nutrition and training program designed to transform your body as efficiently as possible, then simply take the analysis quiz to discover which science-based program would be best for you and where your body is currently at below:
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