During your body transformation, the number of calories you eat is the key to your success.
To lose fat, you must create a calorie deficit – the number of calories you eat has to be less than the number your body burns during the day. By doing so you are force your body to find that extra energy from somewhere else – your fat stores.
But how many fewer calories should you eat?
The Magic Number For Fat Loss
Create a daily deficit of 500 calories.
This is the perfect starting point to lose fat at a good pace – around 1-2 pounds of fat per week, more if you are starting with over 25% body fat.
The reason is that your body can break down one gram of fat and use it to generate 9 calories worth of energy. Put another way, 1 pound of fat can provide your body with 3,500 calories. And because a 500 calorie deficit equals a 3,500 weekly deficit, you will lose 1 pound per week.
Why Not Create a Bigger Calorie Deficit?
That would help me lose fat faster, right?
Well, not exactly.
Yes you would drop body weight faster, but that’s not what you’re after. You want to lose fat but maintain your lean mass. If you create a deficit of more than 500 calories, chances are your body will start using up your hard earned muscle in order to plug the energy gap.
This is a bad thing.
At a 500 calorie deficit, most people will be able to see rapid fat loss and keep muscle loss to a minimum (of course everyone is different, which it is crucial that you constantly asses your progress every two weeks and make adjustments as necessary).
How To Work Out How Many Calories You Burn Daily
In order to create a deficit, you need to know how many calories you use per day.
Start by estimating the number of calories your body burns at rest – known as your basal metabolic rate (or BMR for short). Then add extra calories for the amount of activity you do.
There are several ways to determine your BMR, but I recommend one of the following:
- Guesstimate – Using a figure of 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men is a good starting point.
- Use a BMR calculator – There are several online BMR calculators that will give you an estimate based on your height, weight and age.
For example, a 25 year old, 6ft tall, 200 pound man has a BMR or 2,056 calories according to an online BMR calculator. To transform his body, he should therefore eat around 1,556 calories per day (2,056 – 500).
On days when he does exercise, he will have to eat additional calories. For example, if he used up 200 calories running on a treadmill, then he should eat 1,756 calories that day.
Use the following guide to estimate the number of calories burned during different exercises:
- About 4 calories burned per minute – aquarobics, callisthenics, cycling (slow), gardening (light), golf (social), general housework, line dancing, ping pong, tennis (doubles) and walking (slow).
- About 7 calories burned per minute – aerobics, basketball, baseball, cycling (moderate), dancing (active), football, raquetball, skiing, swimming, tennis (singles) and walking (brisk).
- About 10 calories burned per minute – basketball (competitive), cycling (fast), dancing (strenuous), football (competitive), jogging, kick-boxing, running, skiing (cross country), skipping (with rope), spinning, swimming (vigorous), walking (power), weight training (heavy).
The Best Way To Create A Calorie Deficit
So you know roughly how many calories your body uses per day, and that you need to create a calorie deficit of about 500 calories to lose fat.
There are two ways to create a calorie deficit; by eating less and by moving more.
But here’s the thing – if you try to lose fat by only eating less and not moving more you will fail. In an ideal world you would continue eating the same number of calories but increase your activity level to create the deficit.
Why? Because that way your metabolism stays high and will probably increase. Even better, if you happened to stop training, you could still eat the same amount of food you were used to and not gain weight. The energy balance would be back to being stable. Calories in = calories out.
Most dieters try and just drop their calories without upping their exercise – BIG mistake. Over time their muscle mass breaks down (as well as a bit of fat) and their metabolism slows. They lose weight, sure, but their body remains the same shape.
When they eventually give up on the diet because they are no longer getting results, they go back to eating the same number of calories they did before they were dieting. That means they are eating 500 more calories than their body needs everyday.
Guess what – they gain weight at an alarming rate!
This is the cycle of yo-yo dieting that you MUST break by creating a calorie deficit primarily by INCREASING your exercise and then eating slightly less.
Make these small corrections in your life today and expect amazing results and a body transformation that will leave others speechless.