Many people try to limit their daily calorie intake to lose weight. I am not an exception to most either, as this thinking makes the best sense of the entire weight loss mechanism.
I consider the whole weight loss mechanism to be simply a calorie intake game, a fair game that revolves around math. And the general rule of the game is,
To lose weight, your calorie intake must be less than the calories you consume (calorie deficit).
To gain weight, your calorie intake must be greater than the calories you consume (excess calories).
So how do you calculate the calorie deficit?
To produce a calorie deficit, you must first calculate your “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE). TDEE basically means the level of calories that a person consumes every day. The TDEE is generally referred to as the “maintenance level,” which indicates the daily calories that you must consume to reach the balance of the calories that you will burn per day.
There are several approaches to measuring your TDEE. The one I follow multiplies the “Basal Metabolic Rate” (BMR) by an “Activity Factor”. Then,
TDEE = BMR x Activity factor
BMR will be the amount of calories your body burns to maintain its biological functions. This includes digestion, respiration, cell growth, etc. Like TDEE, there are some recognized approaches to estimating BMR. I will recommend the one that works best for me.
Katch-McArdle Approach to Calculate BMR Using Lean Body Weight Analysis
The formula is
BMR = 370 + (21.6 x lean mass in kg)
Let’s reflect on this scenario:
His body weight is 176 pounds (80 kilograms).
His body fat percentage is 18%.
At 18% body fat, your lean mass should be 82% (100% — 18%) of your total body weight. In terms of kilograms, your lean weight would likely be 65.6 kilograms (80 kilograms x 82%).
Solving the math here,
TMB = 370 + (21.6 x 65.6)
= 1,786.96 calories
This means that to keep up with your body’s biological functions, you will use up to 1,786.96 calories a day.
You can determine your actual body fat percentage using the skinfold methodology. It’s actually relatively inexpensive, realistic, and provides pretty much the same readings compared to those expensive techniques that give you perfect laser readings. Frankly, you won’t need perfect laser readings to get started. You only need one number to be able to follow your growth!
Elaboration of TDEE by multiplying TMB by the activity factor
All of these factors will help determine your TDEE:
Least active = 1,200
Slightly active = 1,375
Moderately active = 1,550
Very active = 1,725
Extremely active = 1,900
Following the example mentioned above and assuming you are slightly active, your personal TDEE calculation would eventually be
TDEE = BMR x Activity factor
= 1,786.96 x 1.375
= 2,457.07 calories
What this means is that your body, which weighs in at around 176 pounds, has an 18 percent body fat percentage, in addition to being slightly active, it expends 2,457.07 calories per day.
What would be the specific number of caloric intake for weight loss?
The general principle is usually to consume between 500 and 1000 calories below your TDEE if you want to lose a few pounds. You should eat less than what you are expected to use to create a calorie deficit. Although that’s the general rule of thumb, I don’t advocate taking such drastic routes to reduce calorie intake for the purpose of losing weight.
Imagine you are a woman with a TDEE of 1,900 calories. Once you reduce 500 calories from this count, it means that you are now consuming no more than 1,400 calories per day. This is extremely low!
Reducing your calorie intake is not the only thing to consider when trying to lose weight. While it is important to reduce your calorie intake, what is equally important is that you do not compromise the nutritional values of your dietary routines.
Drastically cutting calories generally cuts a large portion of the foods off your daily menu. If this is not planned properly, you may have serious nutritional problems if you stick to this diet long-term.
A much more advisable strategy is to reduce your calorie intake by 10% to 20% of your TDEE. In reference to the scenario mentioned above, eating 10% fewer calories means consuming 190 (1900 x 10 percent) fewer calories than your TDEE. It means eating 1,710 (1,900–190) calories per day, which is still considered “okay.”
If you already have the perfect list of calorie deficit to lose weight and follow it, you will feel a huge change in your body. You will also feel that you are actually losing weight.
However, to make it even more possible, you must at least perform 15 to 20 minutes of workout. If you acquire the perfect combination of diet and workouts, in just a couple of weeks your goal will be achieved.