This is Part 1 of a 2 part series.
You can view part 2 HERE = Surprising facts about calories that you NEED to know
I talk a lot about creating a Calorie Deficit for weight loss here on my website. After all creating a calorie deficit is how all weight loss works. However to set yourself a calorie deficit, first of all you need to know…
How many calories do I burn each day?
**Please don’t randomly assign yourself a target of 1200 calories per day. Take some time to find out (roughly) how many calories YOU burn each day. You can then set an appropriate calorie deficit in order to achieve long term sustainable weight loss which may mean that you get to eat way more food than a restrictive 1200 cal plan.
First some bad news.
Unless we enter ourselves into a science lab to live, we will never know exactly how many calories we burn each day. We can get a rough estimate at best.
The same applies when aiming to count the amount of calories we consume (via reading food labels or tracking apps such as my fitness pal). We are estimating only. For that reason, please don’t get super strict or obsessive about counting. However a little calorie AWARENESS can go a long way.
To get an estimate of how many calories you burn, click the calculator link below
How many calories someone burns varies greatly depending on their height, weight (a heavier person burns more calories than a lighter person), age, muscle vs fat ratio, activity level.
For that reason I will use just one person as an example. I am pretty sure it will give you a good idea of how to calculate your own daily calorie burn
Let’s look at 8 ways that Sally burns calories each day.
Sally’s daily calorie burn break down might look something like this…
1) Living – BMR
We burn a LOT of calories by simply being alive. Our heart beating, our organs functioning, brain working etc. This is known as our BMR. Basal Metabolic Rate.
A small to medium female burns just under 1 calorie per minute, every minute of the day. The more you weigh, the more calories you burn.
** Worth noting. You can slightly increase your BMR by increasing the amount of lean muscle mass you have on your body
Sally’s BMR = 1000 – 1200 cals per day
Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Moving your body in small, subtle ways. Fidgeting, raising your arm to use the remote control, chewing gum, typing, changing body positions etc
+ 100 cals
General moving about in your daily activity. Shopping, walking, house work. Sally moves for 2.5 hours during an office work day
+ 450 cals
**Worth noting – Sally moves for 6 hours on a Saturday when she spends all day chasing after 2 toddlers. The calories that she burns on Saturday are much higher than on a Monday when she is sitting in the office all day.
Getting out of your comfort zone. Huffing and puffing and / or overloading the muscles of your body. Sally exercises 1 hour, 4 X per week.
+ 400 calories (exercise days only)
** Also see – Everything you need to know about exercising for weight loss
5) After burn from exercise (EPOC)
A hard exercise session that gets us way out of our comfort zone continues to burn extra calories AFTER the session is over.
+ 50 cals (exercise days only)
6) Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)
The process of digesting our food uses up calories. Protein and fibrous vegetable have the highest rate of TEF.
Sally makes sure to include protein and veg in most of her meals. Just like the portion plate guidelines outlined HERE.
+ 120 cals
7) Temperature regulation
We burn extra calories when we need to cool down our body on a hot day, or warm it up on a cold day.
Sally spends most of her day in an air-conditioned environment.
+ 20 cals
8) Spicy foods and stimulants such as caffeine
Consuming some foods such as this can raise our energy levels very slightly
+ 20 cals
Sally’s daily calorie burn = 2360.
If Sally consumes less calories than she burns, we call that a calorie deficit.
Example. Sally burns 2400 calories but she only consumes 1900. That’s a 500 calorie deficit. The calorie deficit causes her to lose weight. 7000 calorie deficit = 1 kg weight loss (rough estimate).
That may seem like a LOT of calories. Please know, it is SO easy to eat more calories than this if you are not careful and calorie aware. Please see a useful visual representation HERE.
Chriss, does this mean that I need to count every single calorie IN and OUT?
Just like managing your money budget, you can achieve most of this with awareness, habits and routines. Just like when you first learnt to manage your own money, it may take some more focus and effort and first, then after a while you will get into an auto-pilot routine.
Does that mean I need to eat 1200 calories in order to lose weight?
No. If you burn 2400 calories per day, eating less than that is a calorie deficit and will result in weight loss.
- Surprising facts about calories that you NEED to know
- 2 steps to weight loss – A case study
- How to lose 1kg per week. A step by step guide
- Carbs, calories and weight loss explained