Mar 012013
 

Part 1 – Calculating Your Caloric Needs

Overview

Many women who first venture onto a bodybuilding site do so in search of a magic formula that will help them to lose weight and “tone” up.

Although I’ll state right off the bat that there is no such thing as “tone” – you either have muscle and low enough bodyfat for it to be apparent or you don’t – parts 1 and 2 of this article will deal with the weight loss side of things. Part 3 will discuss weight training and aerobic exercise (cardio). You can think of these as three legs of a stool: each is needed in order for the stool not to topple.

Losing Weight
The bad news: If you’re looking for a way to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks or if you want to know what supplements you can take so that you’ll lose weight without significantly modifying your eating habits, stop reading now. There are no magic pills or formulas and I won’t insult your intelligence by pretending that there are. Losing weight is all about establishing a healthy relationship with food, one in which your food choices are fueled by knowledge, not the latest fad or gimmick.

And, speaking of fads and gimmicks, any diet that suggests that you eliminate an entire food group or that you subsist on starvation levels of calories is one you should run from as fast as you can. While you might lose weight in the short term, you’re practically guaranteed to gain it all back. Worse yet, taking it off the next time will be that much more difficult. So let’s get started doing it right the first time.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

The first thing you need to do is to calculate your maintenance calories, that is, the number of calories you need to eat to stay exactly as you are. I understand that you don’t want to stay exactly as you are, but this is where you need to start. To calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR – the number of calories you would need if you were lying in bed all day.) visit this site. Complete the form, then write down the number you get. This is your BMR. Remeber, your BMR is the number of calories you need if you were to do absolutely nothing all day. It is not healthy to eat at your BMR level!

Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)

Next, you need to apply an activity factor to the number you got above (your BMR). An activity factor is a way of estimating the calories you burn doing whatever it is you do during the day – driving your car, making meals, sitting at a desk, etc. The activity factors established by Harris Benedict look like this:

If you are sedentary (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2
If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375
If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): BMR x 1.725
If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training): BMR x 1.9

Let’s say your BMR was 1350 and your activity factor is 1.55 because you weight train 3 days a week and you do HIIT cardio 2 days a week and steady state cardio once a week. You’d multiply 1350 by 1.55 for a total of 2092. This is the number of calories you’d need to stay at the weight you are, called your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)

Calories For Weight Loss

You want to lose weight, though, so you need to do one more calculation. You will often hear the suggestion to eliminate 500 calories per day as this results in a weight loss of one pound per week. In some cases, this might be appropriate, but in others it could be too much and in rare cases of extreme obesity, it could be too little. Better is to find a number that is 15%-20% less than your TDEE. Using the 2092 example, this comes to 1674-1778 calories. Eating inthis range will help to ensure that you lose fat, not muscle and that the weight you take off will stay off.

Summing Up
To determine the number of calories you should be eating you will
1. Establish your BMR
2. Estimate your TDEE
3. Establish a target calorie range that is 15%-20% less than your TDEE

Read on! Click for part 2 of So You Want to Lose Weight and Shape Up.