I know my Maintenance Calories…now what?
Well, this is the final step in your calculations.
You now know how many calories you need to eat in order to maintain the same weight.
I calculated that number to be 1942.
If I eat 1,942 calories, my body will use all those calories to fuel all of its bodily functions and all of the activities I perform. It won’t need to use any of my fat stores or muscle stores because I gave it all the food fuel it needs. That is great if you are at a healthy goal weight…but if I want to lose weight, I need to eat below my maintenance level. I need to give myself a deficit every day.
If, for instance, I eat only 1500 calories a day, my body will use that 1500 to fuel itself, but because it burns 1942, it needs more than that. So it will then begin to use our fat (and muscle) stores to make up for the missing calories.
This is how we lose weight.
Just remember that it is important to choose a healthy, safe and steady deficit that will promote weight loss without harming our body.
How did I decide on my weekly weight loss goal/my deficit?
The general rule of thumb is to shoot for either 20% below your maintenance number or to try to lose only 1% of your body weight per week. Both of these options seem to provide a person with a safe and steady weight loss.
I chose the latter option because it gave me a larger deficit, while still keeping me above my BMR (which I think is really important. The body should at least get enough fuel for its basic bodily functions!)
So, one percent (1%) of my body weight is 1.3. I rounded that number down to 1 and made that my goal. I want to lose 1 pound a week.
I won’t go into to much detail here about choosing a goal that brings about too rapid a weight loss. I’ll just say that I personally think it is usually unnecessary, unhealthy, and counterproductive in the end. Always discuss with your doctor if you are planning a diet that severely restricts your calories.
Again, I think never going below my BMR is the rule of thumb I use.
How do I lose 1 pound of fat a week? What is my exact deficit?
To lose 1 pound of fat a week I need to consume 500 calories fewer than my maintenance calories per day.
One pound of fat = 3500 calories.
3500 divided by 7 days (in a week) = 500 calories a day.
This means that I have to have a 500 calorie deficit every day and by the end of the week…voila!..I have lost a pound. (In a perfect world, of course!)
The next step is to then take my Maintenance Calories and subtract the 500 deficit from it in order to get my Calorie Goal for weight loss. This will give me how many calories I can consume every day in order to lose 1 pound a week.
So what is my calorie goal?
My Maintenance Calories were 1942.
My deficit is 500.
That makes my Daily Calorie Goal: 1442.
This is the number of calories I can eat each and every day to lose 1 pound a week. We already know that my body needs 1942.
Well, I am only going to give it 1442.
The rest is up to my body…it must fend for itself.
It must start converting my fat stores into energy to make up for the missing calories.
And, so begins the road to my slow and steady, healthy and happy, weight loss!
Is there an easier way to do this? Without calculations on paper?
Here are some links to some online Calorie Goal calculators. Unlike the calculators in my previous post, these do more than just calculate your BMR/RMR. They do the whole thing! Just put in your stats and you are given a calorie goal to lose weight!
FreeDieting.com – This one is my favorite. You can use the advanced options to switch between a calorie goal based on the Mifflin-St.Jeor or Harris Benedict or lean body mass.
You can also test out their zig-zag calorie tool for those who like to “calorie shift” or “calorie cycle” or “zig-zag diet!”
Diet-Blog.com – this site gives you a nice calorie range. Based on the Mifflin-St.Jeor equation.