How Effective is Calorie Counting to Lose Weight?
There are all kinds of trackers to calculate calories for losing weight. You can choose from the traditional formulas that require a bit of mathematical skills, or you can choose an online calculator that will do the math for you. All of them are useful.
Following are some helpful tips to easily calculate your calories and macros to lose weight. I’ve personally used these successfully for years with my clients. They don’t involve any difficult mathematical formulas, though they do require a little bit of math.
How to Calculate Calories Easily to Lose Weight
As mentioned earlier, there are many mathematical formulas you can use to determine your daily calorie needs. My favorite is the Harris-Benedict as it takes several personal factors into consideration which provides a very accurate calorie sum. I've included this formula in this article; however, you may also use my quick and easy method that has afforded me success throughout the years with my clients.
To use my easy formula for calculating calories, you'll just need to know your total body weight. You'll use that number to calculate your daily maintenance calories with a Calorie Multiplier. The multiplier also incorporates your calorie deficit which is why this formula is so easy to use. Whenever you lose 10 or more pounds, you may need to recalculate to determine your new daily calorie intake.
But, please note that this quick and easy formula works best if you are at least 150 pounds and aren’t significantly overweight. If you fall within this category or are more than 350 pounds for women and 400 pounds for men, you may want to use one of the other two methods I've included later.
SIMPLE WEIGHT LOSS FORMULA USING EXAMPLE
If you have very stubborn body fat that won’t budge after using the Calorie Multiplier after four weeks, please see the section below What to do When Calorie Counting Doesn't Work.
How to Use the Harris-Benedict Formula for Determining Your Calories to Lose Weight
If you are significantly overweight or would rather use the most accurate formula for calculating calories, the Harris-Benedict Formula is the model for you. It uses factors such as gender, weight, height, age, and activity level to determine your calorie needs.
First, you will need to determine your resting metabolic rate (RMR) which is the rate at which your body burns energy when it is at complete rest. Then you'll need to determine your activity level to figure your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). This will provide you with your total calories per day for maintaining your current weight. Because you want to lose weight, you'll need to add a calorie deficit by subtracting 20 to 30 percent from your TDEE.
The Harris-Benedict model uses different formulas for men and women. This is because men usually have a higher weight in bones and muscles than women. Following are examples with formulas for both men and women.
HARRIS-BENEDICT EXAMPLE FOR MEN
HARRIS-BENEDICT FORMULA USING MALE EXAMPLE
Activity Level: Depending on how active you are, you'll multiply your weight by a factor between 10 and 13.5.
HARRIS-BENEDICT EXAMPLE FOR WOMEN
HARRIS-BENEDICT FORMULA USING MALE EXAMPLE
How to Calculate Your Macros for Weight Loss
Now that you have calculated your calorie needs per day, it’s time to figure your nutrient ratios, called macronutrients, for protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Some body types seem to be luckier than others, but all people have the tendency to gain fat with the wrong lifestyle habits. And, if you so happen to like the ketogenic diet, your ratios will be much different than any given below. Keep in mind, that these are just baselines to help you get started.
An ectomorph body type normally has the tendency to be lean and long but has difficulty building muscle. Ectomorphs have a fast metabolic rate and a high tolerance for starchy carbs. A good macro baseline is 25% protein, 55% carbs, and 20% fats.
The mesomorph body type is usually well-proportioned with the right amount of muscle and body fat. It is naturally muscular and athletic. Mesomorphs have a moderate metabolic rate with a decent tolerance for starchy carbs. A starting macronutrient baseline would be 30% protein, 40% carbs, and 30% fat.
An endomorph body is naturally broad and thick. Endomorphs are often pear-shaped with a tendency to store body fat. They have a slow metabolic rate and a low tolerance for starchy carbs. A proper macro baseline is 35% protein, 25% carbs, and 40% fat.
Since the endomorph body type is the one that naturally tends to put on body weight, its macro ratio will be used from the previous examples to calculate needs.
MACRO CALCULATION FOR ENDOMORPH MALE EXAMPLE
MACRO CALCULATION FOR ENDOMORPH FEMALE EXAMPLE
What to do When Calorie Counting Doesn't Work
If you find yourself not losing any body fat or weight after four weeks of sticking to your calories and macros, you’ll need to do a bit of investigating to find out why. Take the following litmus tests:
If you’re sticking to your plan perfectly and still not losing weight, then a little tweaking needs to be done to your baseline:
First, tweak your macros before calories. Start by lowering your carbs and increasing your fats by five percent (35% protein, 20% carbs, 45% fats). Reassess in two weeks.
Second, do 15 to 20 minutes of cardio or go for a daily walk, in addition to your current exercises. You may want to add this extra metabolic booster at another time of day from your regular exercise program. Reassess in two weeks.
Third, tweak your total daily calories by 100 points, and check your food intake. What are you eating? Are you taking in mostly nutrient-dense wholefoods, or are you downing processed, refined, packaged foods? Be honest with yourself and make positive changes. Then reassess in two weeks.
Fourth, add a dietary supplement to help speed up your metabolism. Following are some that are very helpful. They only provide nutrients that your body may need with no stimulants that make you feel jittery.
Fifth, contact your health practitioner to possibly have tests run for metabolic problems. Nonetheless, feel free to experiment with your baseline to find better results.
Necessary for Optimal Health...
Let's be honest. The process to losing weight is not fun. However, it is necessary for optimal health and self-confidence. Whether you choose my easy method of calculating calories or another formula, you'll be on the road to success. Just remember that calories and macros aren't the only determinant for weight loss. Sticking to a nutrient-dense diet, incorporating appropriate exercise, getting quality rest and sleep, soaking in Vitamin Sunshine, and eliminating undue and negative stress will help you in achieving your goals.
If you would like to learn other beneficial ways to losing weight, please read Is Calorie Counting the Best Way to Lose Weight?