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How Many Calories Should I Eat to Lose Weight?

weight, body fat, fitness, personal training

Are you having a tough time losing weight and/or body fat?  Are you trying to get ready for the summer? Do you know how many calories to have each day? Losing weight and/or body fat can be simple, all it takes is developing, monitoring and executing a plan.  A simple tip to learn how to lose weight is to burn more calories than you put in your body.  The problem that holds people back is being active and eating the right amount calories along with the proper percentages of calories that come from protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

How many calories should I have a day in order to lose weight?

This is a very popular question that I get asked almost every day. There is a process to determine how many calories a person needs in order to lose weight and/or body fat:

1. How active are you?

Being active does not just mean working out.  There could be many ways to be active.  Do you have a job where you are moving around a lot?  Do you play with your kids, work in the yard, walk the dog, etc?  These are going to be factored in when figuring out how many calories per day you should eat.  To make it easier for you, we will just base our calories on how often you exercise:

Sedentary (minimal exercise 1-2 times a week):

Weight loss: Body weight x 10-12

Moderately Active (3-4 times a week):

Weight loss: Body weight x 12-14

Very Active (5-7 times a week)

Weight Loss: Body weight x 14-16

The 2 numbers are your range of calories you should have every day.  Anywhere in this range will be a great start to your weight loss goals.

2. What body type are you?

There are 3 types of body types:

Ectomorph: is someone who has long and thin muscles and limbs with low body fat and is considered skinny.

Mesomorph: is someone who has larger bones, naturally muscular frame (can put on muscle easily), wide frame and low to moderate amount of body fat.

Endomorph: is someone who has a larger bone structure, gain weight easily and have to work harder to lose weight.

There is a possibility to be a combination of 2 of these body types.  An ecto-mesomorph is someone who is athletic looking, but still is on the skinny side and an endo-mesomorph is someone who has a lot of muscle but carries extra body fat around the midsection.

3. Macronutrient percentages for each body type

This is the part of weight loss where it is going to take a couple minutes to do some math, weigh your food and journal.  How many of you out there just look at the calories on the nutritional facts?  We do not want to look at the total amount of calories, we want to look at the calories that come from protein, carbs and fat.  How we do this we need to understand how many calories are in one gram of protein, carbs and fat.

1 gram of Protein=4 calories

1 gram of Carbohydrates=4 calories

1 gram of Fat =9 calories

nutrition, weight loss, calories

For example,  if we break down the calories of lentils:

Protein: 8 x 4=32 calories

Carbohydrates: 27 x 4=108 calories

Fat: 0.5 x 9=4.5 calories

Now that we have an understanding how to figure out calories, now we need to figure out macronutrient percentages for each body type.

According to the ISSA Body Types and Macronutrient Needs:

Ectomorphs: The goal is gain muscle and size. 25% Protein, 55% Carbs, 20% Fats

Mesomorphs: Building muscle and maintain body fat percentage. 30% Protein, 40% Carbs, 30% Fats

Endomorphs: lose weight and body fat. 35% Protein, 25% Carbs, 40% Fats

If you are trying to lose weight, choosing the endomorph macronutrient needs puts you in the best situation for weight and body fat loss while building lean muscle. Here is an example of how you would calculate the percentages:

125 lbs ectomorph and she has a very active lifestyle, she is trying to lose weight and body fat. Her target calorie intake is 1850 calories per day. Using a 1850 calorie diet 647.5 calories (1850 X .35) from protein, 462.5 calories (1850 X .25) from carbohydrates, 740 calories (1850 X .40) from fats.

Losing body fat and/or can be very hard for some to accomplish, but is it really? If you are really committed to reaching your goal, all it can take is some simple planning and executing that plan to the best of your abilities.  All you need is healthy food, scale and a journal and commitment and the sky is the limit.

Written by Chris Barber, CPT, ISSA Fitness Nutrition Specialist