You’ve entered a gym, you are training hard, maybe harder than you’ve ever trained before, hitting that gym session, smashing that class, spending hours on the Spin bike and… and… and… you feel like you’ve had no change to your body.
That stubborn area of fat, the struggle to put on or lose size, the lack of muscle definition, those Glutes not growing or your shoulders not getting rounder. After the initial impact of joining the gym and going consistently has started to wain. What can you do?
Okay, you could mix up your work out plan, it may be that you have to change those exercises, increase your cardio or increase those weight sessions, decrease this, decrease that. They are the easy things to do (I say that with a pinch of salt), it’s normally where knowing a Personal Trainer comes in useful. Other than that, what else could you do?
So normally the question I’ll get asked here is, how many calories should I be eating for my goal? Well this depends on you and your individual requirements, how active you are, your age and even your weight.
Nearly all guidelines will say that in a healthy, balanced diet, a man needs around 2,500 calories a day to maintain his weight. For a woman, that figure is around 2,000 calories a day but these values can vary depending on age, metabolism and levels of physical activity, among other things.
To maintain a healthy weight, you need to balance the amount of calories you consume through food and drink with the amount of calories you burn each day.
To lose weight in a healthy way, you need to use more energy than you consume by eating a healthy, balanced diet with fewer calories while increasing your physical activity.
To gain weight, you need to eat more calories than your body uses each day.
Sounds simple right?
But do you know how may calories you need to consume each day? 2,500 for a man and 2,000 for a women, correct?… Well no, not quite. It’s all down to the individual; so how many calories do YOU need to consume each day?
This is where your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) comes into play. BMR is the measurement of an organism’s energy expenditure when at rest. In other words, when you’re at rest, not digesting any food and at a comfortable temperature, BMR is the amount of energy it takes for your body to maintain life.
While you can’t magically change your BMR right away, knowing your personal number, how it’s calculated, and which factors most influence your metabolism, can help you use this data point to create a smarter strategy for weight loss (or maintenance).
To most accurately calculate BMR, an expert takes measurements of carbon dioxide and oxygen analysis after a subject has fasted for 12 hours and has had eight hours of sleep.
You don’t have access to these tests, however, a rough estimation of this data is possible using the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation, a formula introduced in 1990. Since it’s proven to be more accurate than previous BMR formulas, the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation is now considered the standard when it comes to calculating BMR. Below I have included these equations and how to calculate your BMR.
For men: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5
For women: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161
For example; for myself it would be 700 + 1,050 – 180 + 5 = 1,575 calories per day at rest.
But then we need to add in how much activity we do each week;
Sedentary = BMR x 1.2 (little or no exercise, desk job)
Lightly active = BMR x 1.375 (light exercise/ sports 1-3 days/week)
Moderately active = BMR x 1.55 (moderate exercise/ sports 6-7 days/week)
Very active = BMR x 1.725 (hard exercise every day, or exercising 2 xs/day)
Extra active = BMR x 1.9 (hard exercise 2 or more times per day, or training for marathon, or triathlon, etc.
So now take your resting calories per day and times it by the activity multiplier that mostly matches your week.
Again, lets use me as an example; 1,575 x 1.55 = 2,441.25 Calories per day.
That means that I need to consume roughly 2,441.25 calories per day to maintain my currently weight. size and to make sure my body operates and functions correctly.
To lose weight I would create a calorie deficit by reducing my calories by around 500 per day and maintain my training to current levels.
If I want to gain size (lean muscle) then I would increase my intake by around 200 to 500 calories per day.
I work out my BMR per week based on what I am doing for that week. I’m constantly assessing. This allows me to keep an eye on what is going in and going out. If go on holiday and I know that I am going to be sitting on a beach all day and being very sedentary then I would need to reduce my daily intake down to 1,890 calories per day (that’s a massive reduction of 551.25 calories per day) and we wonder why we put on weight while on holiday.
Knowing your BMR is important no matter if your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle, run harder or even taper from a training plan. It’s the first step to getting an idea of how much fuel you need to keep your engine roaring all day long. The next step is determining which healthy meals match up. Just make sure you are consuming the correct foods, avoiding products full of sugar (low fat/no fat options are not healthier, as they will most likely contain a large amount of added sugars or sweeteners but that’s for another post), processed foods and man manufactured foods. Stick with a balanced diet of proteins, carbs, fats and lots of veggies for every meal and drink plenty of water.
To help keep track of your calories, you can download apps, like my fitness pal and these are really useful tools, but I would still workout my BMR myself so that I was aware of how many calories I am having per day.
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