How can I lose weight? How much should I eat?
Here is a good approach for someone starting from scratch... First off you will need to calculate your BMR (basal metabolic rate). This is the amount of calories (energy) your body requires for daily function. This calculation will also factor in your current activity levels.
Here is a link to calculate your BMR: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/
Now that you know your energy requirements (BMR) we want to create a conservative deficit in our daily calories intake. This means you will now be just below your daily maintenance calories (Let's say a 20% deficit). Creating this 20% deficit in your energy intake through your diet will make your body pull the remaining energy from your stored energy (fat) to make up the difference. Although you are in a caloric deficit, your calories will still remain relatively high, leaving you plenty of energy to feel great and complete your workouts.
Let's assume you are trying to shift unwanted body fat and maintain your muscle tissue and your BMR is 2000 per day. A 20% deficit would be 1,600.
This can be calculated by simply multiplying your BMR by 0.8 i.e. 2000 x 0.8 = 400. So 400 is your deficit, now subtract that from you BMR and your new weight loss set point is 1,600. This would be your new daily calorie total. Over a 7-day period this would amount to 11,200 calories. If this is maintained, a safe and realistic amount of weight to lose is 0.5 - 2.0lbs per week.
I suggest monitoring your daily intake with a tracking tool like MyFitnessPal, as it is very easy to underestimate the actual calorie content of the foods you are consuming. Aim to be within 100 calories above or below your mew maintenance level each day.
My progress picture after a 13 week diet and training protocol.
Now that you have established your calorie set point, let's look at your macronutrients (proteins carbs and fats). First you should understand the calorie values for each macronutrient.
Each gram of protein contains 4 calories, each gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories and each gram of fat contains 9 calories. So for example, 20g of protein will contain 20 x 4 = 80 calories.
Your MyFitnessPal will do all of these calculations, so you won't have to concern yourself too much with these values but it is important to understand them.
Setting your macros for fat loss.
I have set the macronutrient values at optimum health levels.
Protein (g) = multiply your bodyweight in kilograms by 2. Fat (g) = multiply your bodyweight in kilograms by 1. Carbs (g) = now that you have set your protein and fat requirements, you can use your remaining calories for carbohydrates. To calculate this, multiply your protein target by 4 and your fat target by 9. Add these two numbers together and then subtract the sum from your calorie target. Divide the number you get by 4. This final number is your carbohydrate target in grams. So for example, let's assume you are 90kg/200lb male individual consuming 2,250 calories looking to lose fat. Based on the above calculations your macros would be as follows. Protein: 180 g Fat: 90 g Carbs: see the math below (180 x 4) + (90 x 9) = 1,530 2250 – 1530 = 720 1140 / 4 = 180 So the carb target is 180g
Below is a picture of Micheal 8 weeks into his fat loss diet
Tony's 12 week progress pictures below.
It is important to try stick within 100 calories above or below your daily amount. If you have a bad day, just track it and try to make up some ground during the coming days. It is more important what is consumed over the 7-day period.
Try to get within 10g to 20g of your protein requirements per day. Your protein should be constant. If you feel you function better on a higher carbohydrate intake, you can increase your carbohydrate consumption and decrease your fat intake. Try to be within 10g to 15g of your fat intake each day.
Once you are consuming good quality food, i.e. lean meats, poultry, dairy and fruits, vegetables or vegan or vegetarian options, you should be getting a good micronutrient profile in your diet. Hydration is also vitally important. For an exact calculation of how much water you should be consuming, see my previous post on “how much water should I drink”. Try to make good food choices and plan ahead. Providing you are hitting your macros and calorie numbers each day, 200 to 300 calories of your daily calorie intake can be spent on a food you might consider a treat, like chocolate or ice cream. Of course I am not saying you should eat these foods all the time, but it's important to remember that if you do have these foods they are not going to destroy your diet and prevent you losing body fat, provided that in the grand scheme of things you are staying within your calories and meeting your macro requirements (protein, carbs, fats) and preferably training regularly.
Keep in mind the number you are looking to hit each day. Keep logging with your MyFitnessPal and check back in on your weight every 6/7 days and have faith in what you are doing. Don't rush the process.
Remember eating less and working out more is not the answer. I am sure this is a scenario that many of you have encountered. Essentially what you are doing is creating a dramatic caloric deficit and then expecting to nail it in the gym. Initially that might even work and you may see some weight loss, but what is really happening is you are decreasing your input “food” and increasing your “output” and something will have to give. Eventually you will start to feel like crap and possibly mess up your hormonal activity. The only option will be to start eating more and inevitably you gain back the weight, in some cases you end up heavier than when you started. This can be compounded by the grim reality that as you gain the weight back you can actually encounter something called “fat cell hyperplasia”, where your fat cells essentially get bigger. This is why a slow, steady, controlled approach to weight loss is the healthier and more sustainable option.
A quick note on alcohol. If you must, just remember that much like carbs and fats, alcohol has a caloric value. Each gram of alcohol contains 7 calories, sugar has 4. A glass of wine can have anywhere from 150 to 300 calories. It is so easy to nail your nutrition Monday to Friday and then destroy it with a bottle or two of wine at the weekend. So please don't think: “I worked hard all week, I can afford to drink this.” Sure, you may have worked your ass off all week, but don't blow your fat loss endeavors now. Continue to track your calories and ask yourself can I afford to drink a glass of wine. If you crunch the number and you have room in your diet then by all means enjoy that glass.
As your weight drops, you will need to recalculate to establish your new energy requirements based of you new lower weight/energy demands. As I mentioned earlier controlled sustainable weight loss should will be 0.5 - 2.0 per week so you probably won't be reporting 9 and 10 pounds of weight loss per week but as time passes all these 1lb and 0.5lb per week losses will add up, so keep the faith and allow you body up to two weeks to adapt to your new calorie set point.
If you are applying all this information and you don't see any change in weight then something is off. Try decreasing your calories 100 to 200 or 10% and make sure you are accurately tracking EVERYTHING.
That it guys, good luck and please email me any question or feedback you may have.