Being capable by being healthy – How to count calories

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Everybody is talking about different type of diets as the ultimate weapon for fat loss. To be honest, diet and fat loss are two completely different things. Yes, if you keep a good diet with food that is healthy and contains all the nutrients, you going to feel good and probably lose weight in the process. But, if you eat 2 McDonald’s burgers as your breakfast, and then another 2 burgers for lunch, and another 2 for dinner. You still going to lose some weight, no matter how shit you feel after a few hours.

Why is that?!

Well, it’s not because of the McDonald’s diet, that’s for sure. It’s because of Calories. 1 hamburger in McDonald’s only has 250 calories, if you eat six of them a day, you only ate 1500 calories. That amount of calories for the whole day, could only make children and smaller women fat.

If you are a normal size adult woman you need to take about 1600-2400 calories in daily. If you are an adult man, you need around 2000-3500 calories daily. All depending on your size and muscle mass. For example: Your Resting Metabolic Rate is higher if you are bigger, so if you are big you simply burn more calories than someone who is smaller. The Resting or Base Metabolic Rate is responsible for more than 75% of our daily calorie burning, it controls how much calorie we burn every day without exercising or moving too much.

As you see, that’s a lot. It is not easy to push the amount of calorie burning much higher than what your Resting Metabolic Rate already provides. If you try too hard, you will burnout easily. Yes, treadmills are very useful and look very cool, but even if you sweat like a pig, it won’t make too much of a difference. Sure, cardio keeps your cardiovascular system in check. But, if you think that is the thing that will make you slim, you got scammed, because your ideas are on a completely wrong track. You burn much more calories resting the whole day, than what you are capable of burning with cardio. Of course there are some hard motherfuckers around, but it’s not the smartest idea to be one of them.

If you want to lose weight, the only thing that really matters is how much calorie you take in. Everything else is just a matter of how healthy do you want to do it.

According to a study done by well-respected scientists. Every extra 150 calories per day, diabetes prevalence rose by only 0.1 percent. But if those 150 calories were from added sugar, diabetes prevalence rose 11-fold, by 1.1 percent.

So, yes, it matters what you eat, but Calories are a basic unit of energy that measure, among other things, how much burning power they provide to the body. Fats, proteins, carbohydrates and alcohol provide the body with energy or calories. The traditional estimates are that 1 gram of fat provides 9 calories, each gram of either proteins and carbohydrates provide 4 calories, and a gram of alcohol provides 7 calories. However, this doesn’t account for differences in how well food is digested and the nutrients available to the body. Poorly digested foods may not release as much energy for the body to use. This is particularly important in the case of fibers.

Dietary fibers are complex carbohydrates, so some people estimate that they provide 4 calories per gram just like any other carbohydrate. However, others say that calories from fiber don’t count since your body’s digestive enzymes can’t break down fiber. However, fibers differ in how well they are digested or how much energy is available to the body. Some fibers, called soluble fibers, either absorb water and become gels or dissolve in water and reach the intestine where they are digested by bacteria. As they are digested by bacteria, soluble fibers produce short-chain fatty acids that provide your body energy. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that fibers fermented by bacteria provide about 2 calories per gram of fiber. Insoluble fibers travel to the intestine with very little change. Instead of being digested, insoluble fibers increase bulk, soften stool, and shorten transit time through the gastro-intestinal tract.  Because these fibers are not digested at all, the FDA estimates that insoluble fibers do not contribute any calories.

You need to keep this in mind, when you calculate your calories. But, don’t worry too much, you don’t need to be super precise, as we discussed already, there are many factors that influences how are these calories digested. If you exercise a bit and eat good quality healthy food, your hormones will help with the calorie burning. You don’t need to complicate this too much.

Okay, but how is this work in practice?

Well, you have to calculate your Resting Metabolic Rate first. It won’t be precise, but don’t worry about it. How you do it is this (I will use the metric system as the standard, but I will also include the imperial units on screen):

The RMR formula (practically the BMR formula because most people refer to Basal Metabolic Rate):

  • When using the English units:

Female – RMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years).
Male – RMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years).

  • When using the Metric units:

Female – RMR = 655 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years).
Male- RMR = 66 + (13.7 x weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in years).

  • Maintaining your current weight: then you should take a look at your lifestyle and make a simple multiplication.

– Sedentary lifestyle – RMR*1.2

– Little exercise – RMR*1.37

– Moderate exercise – RMR*1.55

– Very active – RMR*1.72

– Very soliciting – RMR*1.9

That’s how you get, you daily calorie needs. Now, calorie is just a measure of how much burning power does the food provides you. It doesn’t take in account your macro nutrient needs. You need to adjust that.

It’s very easy. Doesn’t matter what type of diet you are on, the most important nutrient you need to take care of is: Protein. You now, that’s the only essential macro nutrient, everything else can be created inside us if really needed. Once you take care of Protein. You can just calculate your fat and carbohydrate needs based on the ratio of your diet and your daily calorie needs.

So, just to have an idea how this works. According to the World Health Organization and the National Academy of Sciences the daily protein needs of an average person who just wants to keep his health is 0.8-1g of protein per kg of body weight, that’s about 0.4-0.6g per pound in imperial units. Sure, if you are obese, counting for body weight, might not be the best strategy, so you are much better off if you use your lean body mass instead.

If you want to lose body weight by exercising and you don’t want to lose your muscles, than you need about 1.6g-2.3g of protein per kg of lean body mass. If you just want to bulk up, and grow some muscles, this number slightly goes down to 1.2-2.2g, but if you do heavy weight training this can go up to 3grams of protein per kg of lean body mass. I know, 3g sounds a lot, but there are studies that show that a normal healthy person can go up to 4.5g of protein per kg of body weight without causing too much problems to the kidneys. Sure, if you have adrenal issues, you better off with less, but don’t be afraid of protein if your kidneys are healthy.

Remember, Protein is an essential Macro Nutrient, our body can’t produce it by itself, it needs to be kept relatively high if we want to keep our muscle mass. But, even if you don’t care about being muscular, muscle mass is needed for a long life, and the more muscle you have the more calories you burn. Don’t be afraid of building big muscles, even if you try your best, you will never look like a professional body builder, you need Olympian genetics, a lots of steroids, a crazy amounts of food, and you have to sacrifice your life to the gym to look like that. So don’t think you can build muscles like that on a healthy lifestyle, you are probably not a genetically altered superhuman.

Now, let’s see some examples.

An average 35 year old man has about 175 cm height and about 80kg of weight, an average 35 year old woman is around 165 cm tall and about 60kg.

According to the Jackson-Pollock Body Fat Chart. An average 35 year old man has about 22 percent of body fat, and an average woman in the same age group has around 29 percent. If you want to know your own body fat percentage, there are several ways to figure out, but the easiest is to just find a clinically validated body composition monitor and use that.

We can easily calculate the lean body mass, by calculating the weight of the fat first, and then deducting that number from the full body weight.

So, our man is 80 kg with a 22 percent of body fat, if we want to deduct the body fat, we have to convert the 22 percent to 0.22, you know 1 is a 100% if we multiply something with 1, we get the full thing back again, just like 100 percent, so in this case we have to multiply the full 80kg of body weight with only 0.22 to get the weight of that 22 percent of fat. And if we do the calculation we get a 17.6kg of fat. So, to get the lean body mass, we just deduct this 17.6kg from the 80kg of full body mass, and we get a 62.4 kg of lean body mass.

Okay, let’s quickly do this with our average woman as well, just to have an idea. Our woman is 60 kg with a 29 percent of body fat. If calculate the fat first, we get a 17.5kg of total fat, if we use this number in our formula, we get a 42.6kg of fat free lean body mass.

Now, to calculate the needed daily protein needs for both, we simply chose what we want to do, if we don’t want to exercise and don’t care about our muscle mass we use the what the WHO advise, if we think we need to cut our fat a bit and keep the muscles on we use our second option, and if we want to bulk up or we use heavy weights we adjust it based on those criteria.

Let’s select the second option as our example, as most people would like to know how to cut some fat. What we need to do for this is to take the advised protein requirements from the lower side for starters, and multiply that with the fat free lean body mass.

It looks like this: Lean body mass (that’s 62.4 for the man and 42.6 for the woman) X Protein Requirements (that’s 1.6 both for starters) and we get the Daily Protein needs. That is 99.84 g about a 100 grams of protein daily for our man, and 68.16 about 70grams for our woman.

1 gram of Protein has 4 calories, that means we just need to multiply the daily protein needs with 4 and we got how much calorie is the daily base of the diet.

We got a 100grams of protein for the man, a hundred times 4 is 400. And we got about 70 grams for the woman, that’s a 70 times 4, what is 280 calories. That means, in our example.

The daily protein needs of our man is a 100grams, what has 400 calories, and the daily protein needs of our woman is 70 grams, what has 280 calories.

These are the minimum what is needed to be consumed daily, if not a fasting. So, according to the diet we want our characters to be on, I don’t know low fat with high carbs or high fat with low carbs doesn’t really matter, we just adjust the other calories as the macronutrient ratio of our chosen diet dictates.

But, how to do we calculate the other calories? You might ask.

Well, we first need to calculate the Resting Metabolic Rate. Once we done that, we just need to figure out the lifestyle our characters will follow, if it’s sedentary we multiply the Resting Metabolic Rate with 1.2 to get the absolute daily calorie needs, if it’s a low exercise we multiply the RMR with 1.37, etc. there are several choices we just have to use the right one.

Let’s choose a moderate exercise here as our example. That means we need to multiply the Resting Metabolic Rate with 1.55 to get the full daily calorie needs.

If we use our Resting Metabolic Rate formula on both of them, we can easily calculate how much calorie they are burning without doing any movement.

Male: 66 + (13.7 x 80) + (5 x 175) – (6.8 x 35) = 66 + 1096 + 875 – 238 = 1799
Female: 655 + (9.6 x 60) + (1.8 x 165) – (4.7 x 35) = 655 + 576 + 297 – 164.5 = 1363.6

Now, let’s use the already calculated Resting Metabolic Rate for both, we just multiply them with the Moderate Exercise lifestyle’s 1.55 and we get the total daily calorie needs for both.

1799 x 1.55 = 2788.45 for man

1363.6 x 1.55 = 2113.58 for woman

The last thing we need to do here is to detract the protein calories from the sum, to get the other calories that we need to consume from other macro nutrients.

That’s a minus 400 calories for woman and a minus 2800 for man. That means our example man needs to consume 100 grams of protein as the base of his diet, that’s the 400 calories, and she also needs to consume the remaining 2788.45 – 400 = 2388.45 calories from fats and carbohydrates.

Our example woman needs to consume 70 grams of protein as the base of her diet, what counts for 280 calories, and she needs to eat 2113.58 – 280 = 1833.58 calories from other macro nutrients.

Okay, so these are the calorie amounts that our characters needs to consume if they want keep their weight. But, what happens when they want to lose some weight?!

Very easy, as we already adjusted for weight loss when calculating the daily protein needs. We don’t have to touch the protein proportions, we just need to cut the calories from the other nutrients just enough to be under what is needed for maintaining the weight.

Okay, but how do we do that? We calculated the daily calorie needs, that would mean we have to adjust everything on a daily basis. Is that right?!

Well, the standard literature emphasises daily calorie restriction for weight loss. But, you know how it goes. You mess up one day, and your whole week is messed up, and if your whole week is messed up, the whole month is in the trash. The daily calories restriction just doesn’t work for normal people. Sure, if you hardcore motherfucker like David Goggins, there are no limits for you, but if you are just a normal human there are some limits to what is possible without cheating.

If you decided to count calories, you have to be smarter than your body. You have to know that there will be unpredictable times and emotions what will push you out of your daily balance. So, you need to see the bigger picture if you want to succeed. You have to adjust to your weekly calories needs. If you adjust your diet to your weekly calorie needs instead of the daily calorie needs. You will have a buffer for error, if you eat too much a day, just eat that much less another, everybody can have a heightened self-control for day, but very few can maintain it much longer than that.

What you need to do is to get your daily calorie needs multiply it with 7 to get your weekly calorie needs, and just go under by 10-20% if you want to lose weight, or go over 10-20% if you want to gain weight. Doesn’t matter how much you consume on each day, what matters is to adjust your calories to your weekly sum.

So, if we apply this to our examples. Their diet would look like this: Our man needs to consume 2788.45 calories daily to maintain his weight, he needs 400 calories from protein and 2388.45 from other macro nutrients. His weekly calorie needs would be 7 times that, that’s 19519.15 calories if he wants to maintain his weight. If he wants to lose some weight, he needs to lower his weekly calories by at least 10%. The 10% of 19519.15 is 1951.915, that is what he needs to detract to get the weekly sum of 17567.235 calories. What is the ideal target for his weight loss. This same thing applies for Our women as well, she needs 2113.58 calories daily to maintain her weight, the 7 times of that is 14 795.06. If we detract 10% from that we get that our woman needs to consume 13315.554 calories weekly to lose some weight.

The great thing about counting the weekly calories instead of daily calories is flexibility. Because, you can have an accidental cheat day on any day of the week, you just need to adjust and keep the weekly calories intact.

To be continued…

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