Updated: Nov 15, 2018
Here we are going to outline common calories found in food, calories burnt through different types of exercise and give an insight into what macros come from (carbs, fats, proteins.) In this section, we hope you get a greater understanding of how to set up your calories to reach your specific goals; provide easy tips on how to track the calories you are consuming.
Like anything, nutrition can seem complex, confusing and intimidating when it’s something you are not familiar with. From hearing incorrect information on the internet, to following the new fad that doesn’t fit around your lifestyle, the main thing to consider when starting your weight loss or muscle building journey is, is it going be consistent? Consistency is one of the most important things to consider. So many people will lose weight one month and put it back on another; going through a vicious cycle which isn’t fun and overall isn’t a successful diet. Even though you lost the weight in the first place, there’s no magic food or formula that’s going to get you to your end result right away. It takes time but hopefully, with this information, you can do it in the most efficient and easy way; without huge restriction, keeping a good quality of life and still being able to go out with friends and family for a social drink or meal. No one wants to eat chicken and rice every day, or be restricted when going out with loved ones.
How many calories do you need?
This is the one people get really confused at, so listen up!!!
Yes, to lose weight you will need to be in a calorie deficit (eating less than your body needs) but everyone’s needs are completely different. So, don’t follow someone else’s plan as it just won’t work. There are different factors that we need to consider when applying this; age, gender, amount of physical activity, job, individual habit, weight, the list goes on.
We use a simple equation to use to find out a rough estimation of your calorie needs. Just remember that it will never be 100% accurate, so you will have to apply trial and error by weighing yourself each day, then getting an average at the end of the week.
Calculating your energy needs
Total daily expenditure consists of:
Resting energy expenditure - the number of calories you burn at rest
Non-resting energy expenditure - the calories used during any exercise, this includes all of your daily activity and energy to digest food.
A nice simple equation we can use to get a rough idea of our starting calories:
Men - (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) - (5 x age) + 5
Women - (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) - (5 x age) - 161
Once this number is obtained you will need multiple this number by how active you think you are:
Sedentary - little or no activity x 1.2
Lightly active - 1-3 days per weeks x 1.375
Moderately active - 6-7 days a week x 1.55
Very active- every day plus active job x 1.725
Elite athlete -training twice a day, always moving x 1.9
Okay, thank goodness that is done!
Now, we should all have a number. This is going to act as your maintenance calories (what you need to stay at the same weight).
But this is just rough estimation. You will have to trial it for a couple weeks and track what your weight is doing and use a food tracking app to track your food. Personally, I use “MyFitnessPal”. It allows you to keep a food database and makes life a whole lot easier. By weighing yourself every morning, before eating or drinking, and logging it down and taking an average at the end of the week to see if your weight is increasing by too much or reducing at too fast rate, you can make the necessary adjustments.
Once you are happy that you a have a good enough ball park number for your maintenance calories, you can start your journey of either fat loss or muscle gain.
A good rate of fat loss is going to be 1-2 pounds of fat a week, depending on your starting point. The bigger you are, the more you can afford to lose at the start.
To start, you must now either add or subtract a percentage of your total number depending on your goals.
For fat loss at a good rate, a 200-400 calorie drop from your maintenance calories or, if your starting number is 2000, a 10-20% reduction, depending how fast you want to lose, is a good range. It’s the same if you are looking to gain but you will just have to add 200 - 400 calories to your maintenance number from the equation you just did.
Now, how do we split our calories into different macro ranges? This is not the most important thing to consider - just remembering total calories at the end of the day is the most important thing. So if you’re happy with just tracking calories, that’s completely fine but for people who want to take it a step further and track each macro range this is for you.
Typically some good ratios for splitting your macro targets into are:
Carbohydrates - 4 calories per gram - 45- 65% depending on the individual
Protein - 4 calories per gram - 10-35%
Fats - 9 calories per gram - 20-30
The great thing about following a flexible approach is that these numbers aren’t set in stone. If you prefer a higher fat diet, that’s completely up to you. If the main goal is just to reach your caloric target at the end of the day, for most people a macro target isn’t the most important thing. Creating something that is going to be a part of your lifestyle and not just a quick fix!
For example, an athlete may want to increase his or her carbohydrates whereas an individual wanting to lose a bit of weight might start with a lower carbohydrate diet. There is no right or wrong answer. Keeping protein fairly consistent throughout, aiming for a figure of 0.6 - 1 gram per body weight, depending on how much fat tissue you have, is a good starting point and carbs and fat can fill in the rest.
Flexibility doesn’t mean you should be eating Dominoes every day. You need to eat like an adult - picking foods that are going to be most beneficial to your goals.
5 helpful tips
1: Don't think of it as a diet
2: Set realistic goals & targets
3: Plan ahead
4: Don't mess up for one bad choice
5: Track your progress