Most people set out to lose fat but they have no idea how much they should be eating to accomplish their goals. While achieving fat loss is almost never black and white, there are some proven methods that work well for most.
The foundation of fat loss is a calorie deficit. Most trainers and coaches prescribe one of two methods for their clients when it comes to fat loss nutrition:
1) The Calorie Counting Approach
2) The Habit-Based Approach
I will be describing the Calorie Counting Approach in this article. If you are interested in learning about the Habit Based Approach, I will be publishing an article on this approach very soon.
Now, before we dive in, it’s important to note that there are exceptions to everything. Humans are very complex creatures and there are several variables that can inhibit this approach from being successful for any one person. But as I said, this method has been proven to produce results for several years and it a great start to fat loss.
It is also important to note that if you are looking to “change” your physique, you will need to incorporate weight training into your workout regimen so that you can maintain muscle while losing fat and get that “toned” look that most people are after, otherwise you will just become a smaller version of you. You can also do cardio as you’d like, but often less is more.
Setting Your Calorie Intake
Note: All suggestions assume that the individual is healthy and has a healthy metabolism.
To Maintain: It is assumed that to maintain your current body weight, you would set your calories at 15 x bodyweight. So, for a 150 lb. individual looking to remain 150 lbs, they would set out to take in about 2250 calories per day.
To Lose: It is assumed that in-order to lose fat, your calories would need to be set anywhere from 10-12 x bodyweight. This will create a deficit and initiate fat loss.
I usually suggest starting at the higher end of that range so that you have wiggle room to adjust as needed (we will talk about adjusting in just a bit). You may be tempted to start lower so that you can lose weight faster, but you ultimately want to be able to lose while still being able to eat as much food as possible.
So, starting at 12 x bodyweight, a 150 lb individual would set calories at 1800 per day.
If a person is very overweight or obese, calories can be set even lower, at around 8-9 x bodyweight. So, for a 260 lb. individual, calories can be set anywhere between 2080-2340 per day.
Assessing and Adjusting
The calories that you calculated above are simply a starting point. That’s why I suggest starting on the higher end so that you have room to adjust down and locate that sweet spot that works for you.
2 WEEK PLAN: So, once you have calculated and set your calories, you will need to stick to it rigidly for two weeks in-order to get a caloric baseline. In order for you to know if you plan is working, you will need to do an initial weigh in, some measurements and some photos at the start of your two weeks. At the end of your two weeks you will repeat your weigh in, measurements and photos in order to assess your progress.
If you’ve been sticking to your plan and not making progress then you can make some adjustments. I like to advise adjusting/increasing your activity level first, before adjusting your calorie intake. Because remember, the aim is to be able to eat as much as possible while still losing. So, once you make the adjustment, you will then implement the plan for another two weeks and you will continue this cycle if needed and up until you’re able to start making progress.
Now, if your nutrition or your training has not been good over the course of the first two weeks, then you shouldn’t be surprised if you see little to no progress. That’s ok, no guilt. Don’t change anything, just keep going and attempt to stick to your plan a little harder this time. But it’s important that you are not tempted to drop your calories or ramp up your exercises at this point. You need to first stick to your initial plan because it’s not the plan that isn’t working.
Small Progress IS STILL PROGRESS
Slow or small progress is also not a good reason to change your plan. We live in a microwave mentality society. We want and are used to getting things quick and easy. So it’s normal for our expectations to be a little off when it comes to weight loss these days.
The rule is, if you’re moving forward and making progress, no matter how “small”, then you don’t adjust. Keeping doing what you’re doing and allow the process to run it’s course. This will take patience, but it will be worth it in end and will be pivotal in helping to maintain fat loss.
Hopefully this has given you a good guideline to assist in getting you going on your journey to fat loss.
Blessings in Health & Fitness!