If you have taken a look at the previous blogs this week, you should have a good grasp on the basics of calories and macros, and how they can be used to your advantage. If not, stop now, read those, and then come back to this one. Today we will be looking at how to further optimize your calorie and macro numbers.
What is energy balance? Simply put, energy balance is calories in versus calories out. This is important to know so you can optimize the amount of food. You consume on a daily basis. If you eat less than you burn, your body will generally lose weight (though some things need to be taken into account). If you eat more than you burn, you will gain weight.
So how much should you consume? Ideally, you would identify the amount of calories you burn each day, and then eat the equivalent amount, or less or more, depending on goals. However, it is extremely difficult to find the true number you burn. Even those fancy smart watches don’t get it right, as there is far more at play than your heart rate and time of workout.
Start by calculating your Basal Metabolic rate (BMR). This is the base amount of calories your body needs to do basic functions like pumping blood and digesting food. You can calculate that through one of the following equations (males and females use different equations):
For males: BMR = 13.397W + 4.799H – 5.677A +88.362
For females: BMR = 9.247W + 3.098H – 4.330A + 447.593
W is body weight in kg
H is body height in cm
A is age
Once you have calculated BMR, you have found the minimum calories your body needs to sit on the couch and do nothing all day! Next, you need to add 10% to account for the calories needed to digest your BMR amount of food (example, BMR = 2000 calories, you need to eat 2,200 calories to account for digestion).
Third, you need to look at your activity level and see roughly how many calories you burn on average through activity. This is tough to gauge, so using a smart watch will help here, however, it is tough to be spot on. I like to start people with +500 calories to account for daily activity, including any exercise. If you know you burn more, add more, if you know you burn less, add less.
Once you add your activity calories in with your BMR and digestion calories, you have a baseline for how many calories you should consume in order to maintain your current body composition. If you are looking to lose weight, reduce the calories by 200-300 calories. If you are looking to gain, add 200-300 calories. It will take some playing around with numbers to dial this in, so check your progress at least every 2 weeks.
By adjusting your caloric intake to the energy your body uses, you will further accelerate your progress. Now you are consuming only what you need. Nothing less, nothing more. If you feeling like you need someone to check your work, schedule a call with one of our coaches. You can do that here: