When it comes to caloric needs, there is no magic number
What is a calorie?
A “calorie” is the word we use to describe the units of energy our body needs. Specifically, a calorie is the amount of energy or heat, it takes to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit). One calorie is equal to 4.184 joules, a common unit of energy used in the physical sciences.
For our bodies to move, breathe, pump blood, or basically survive we need energy commonly from food. Each food possesses a different amount of energy but size doesn’t always equate to more energy for example, a 2.5kg watermelon has roughly 1,300kcals and a 375g jar of Bega smooth peanut butter has over 2,300kcals. This is because not all calories are measured the same, they are divided into individual macronutrients and given a different caloric amount per gram of which each takes a different journey within the body once metabolized. Let me explain each macronutrient and their caloric value: a gram of carbohydrates has 4 calories, a gram of protein has 4 calories and a gram of fat has 9 calories, can you see now how the peanut butter, although small in size actually contains more calories due to the fat content compared to the watermelon which is mostly made from carbohydrates.
How Do Calories Make You Fat?
There is no magic number when it comes to someone’s caloric intake.
there are a few factors that separate you from everybody else and why most copy cat diets will never work and why eating like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson won’t make you look like him. Trust me I have tried! But your height, weight, gender, allergies, metabolism, activity level, and your job will all matter when it comes to you and your caloric need.
Most people who start a diet, start from the wrong place. They have suddenly noticed a drop in their performance and don’t quite fit into there pants anymore, but what they don’t notice about the added weight is that it did not just pile on overnight, it was caused by months or even years of bad eating habits. This could all have started from that extra donut or few to many beers followed by a work or sporting injury that put a halt to your normal activity levels. These two combined throw your perfect calorie score down the drain and you might not see what’s happening on the inside of your body as its storing and creating fat cells from excess food, stress and being less active until its too late and all of a sudden you notice who you are physically is not the same anymore and all the damage you turned a blind eye too has left your metabolism broken. Starting your LOW-calorie diet from this point will only add to the wound and end up worse than just fat but also hormonally damaged.
Finding Your Calories
After taking the above into context you are probably wondering how to find the best place or calorie number to start with. There are many equations that you can use to find your calorie intake, from a quick and rough calculation to a very specific equation they will most likely be within a couple of hundred calories. I personally have seen the quickest way give me the best place to start without overwhelming myself with too many figures.
This simple equation is done by multiplying your current weight in pounds (2.2lbs = 1kg) by 10 which will give you your resting metabolic rate, which is the number of calories your body needs while at rest. now by multiplying this by your average activity level, you will get a pretty close figure on the amount of calories needed to maintain or bring back to balance your current physique. 1 – 5 is the level you will need to decide on that best fits your activity level, 1 is the lowest level and would be the type of person who doesn’t exercise and has a stationary job and 5 would be a person with a very active job just like a construction worker who is always moving and being active but also trains twice a day. these are the two extremities of activity levels and you will need to be completely honest with yourself about where you are, if you put yourself too high in hope of becoming a person who trains twice a day but is currently training maybe only 4 times per week, you will be overeating and find that you will most likely feel or see no change. Most people are already under-eating so to choose a smaller number will still be more food than your use to but put you on a better path in becoming healthier and stronger.
Another time saving calculator is to just use one that has been pre made like this one HERE.
The Timeframe For Change
In this day and age, everyone wants things to happen instantly, which makes sense with a push of a button we can have anything right at our door but that’s only because technology evolved to give us these resources. Our bodies, on the other hand, have almost stopped evolving physically, and even then, to compare our metabolism to that of our ancestors, the processes haven’t really changed. Just like the sneaky storing of fat and damage, you can’t see until its too late, the burning of fat and repair won’t be seen any faster. This could take months of consistency and reprogramming better habits to even notice a change, this takes longer because you will most likely be looking at yourself every moment hoping to see a difference, but losing weight at a steady pace of roughly 1 pound per week is going to be very hard to see in the mirror. I recommend taking before photos to give you the clearest comparisons or even asking people who don’t see you as often. The time it’s going to take you to start seeing results is dependant on the damage you have caused, remember “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and neither is everything going on inside your body.
A great way to find out how long it might take you is to find exactly how much body fat you have then multiply that by your current weight (in pounds for a closer figure) and this will give you the weight of fat you currently have on your body. Fat takes up more volume than muscle.
Now subtract the fat weight from your current weight to give you your lean mass and the number you will now divide by the percentage of fat you want to be removed (healthy body fat levels for men is between 10-15% and for women its 20-25%). For example: if I want to be 10% I would need to divide 90% from my lean mass to get the retaining weight I need to be at. Next with this number you want to subtract it from your current weight to get the difference you need to lose to reach your goal weight and body composition. A very healthy fat loss amount is to aim for one pound per week, so the total number in pounds you have just calculated will be the amount of weeks it will take to reach your goal body.