Why calories matter in your daily food intake, and how calorie counting helps to lose weight?
I don’t want to bore you rigid but I’ve mentioned several times on this site how I lost 30 pounds (just under 14kg) by counting calories and exercise. As far as I’m concerned this is easiest and the right way to lose weight. I’m not an advocate of fad diets, in fact I don’t even like the word diet. Bein
g aware of calories and calorie counting helps to have a clear understanding of how many calories you are consuming and how many you are burning.
Let’s have a look at what calories are.
A calorie is a unit of energy, the amount of energy in an item of food or drink is measured in calories. So when we eat and drink more calories than our bodies use, we store the excess as body fat. If this continues, obviously we’ll put on weight – pretty simple so far! Eat more than we use and our bodies will store the rest, as middle aged men it’s usually stored around our waist. I don’t want this post to be too technical but there are two important figures you need to know when using the counting calories method.
Basal metabolic rate
You need to know how many calories your body needs to maintain its basal metabolic rate (BMR) this is what your body burns if you sat on your backside on the sofa all day. It’s essentially the amount of energy your body uses to perform it’s basic functions, Here’s a handy BMR calculator.
Total daily energy expenditure
The next thing you need to know is what is your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) this is the amount of energy your body uses in a day. It is affected by your activity levels, your gender and your age. This calculation isn’t 100% accurate but it gives a good indication. It also varies with your activity levels and weight changes. Remembering that more muscle burns more energy this will affect TDEE as well. TDEE calculator here.
One thing to keep in mind is that these figures change as you lose weight so regular checking is advised. Work out what your BMR, in my case 58 years old, 103kg and 1.81 meter tall with moderate activity = 1997. My TDEE calculation is between 2439 and 2814 and depends on activity levels. I like to err on the side of caution so gu
esstimate it at 2500. When I started my weightless journey my TDEE was 3600. Once you know your BMR and your TDEE you can use them to calculate how many calories you need to keep your weight steady as it is, lose weight or put on muscle mass.
In practical terms
In my case; if I aim to lose one pound (0.5kg) of fat a week I need to have a calorie deficit of 500 per day. If I keep that up 7 days a week I will have a defat of 3500 calories which equals one pound (0.5kg) of fat. If I want to maintain my weight then I should consume around 2500 calories per day. Conversely if I want to gain weight in muscle mass I would consume more calories. Pretty simple so far, this stuff isn’t rocket science! One point to consider is the type of calories you are consuming, good quality proteins from meat, fish, chicken and veggie sources such as chickpeas, quinoa and lentils will help build muscle and fuel the body best. There are many good calories and many more bad calories, choosing what you eat is crucial to building a healthy body. Check out this book for more info Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes.
The Bottom Line
Monitoring the type of calories you consume is important for a healthy body and the term clean eating describes it well. Calorie counting is essential for losing weight. When you make the shift to being consciously aware of what and the amount you eat and how and why you eat what you do, you suddenly realise how much crap (empty calories) you cab chug down in a day without even realising it! Check out this article on stress eating and see if you can improve your eating habits.
More info on calories here at the NHS
Please leave any questions, comments or thoughts below.