The following article is a quick step-by-step guide to estimate how many calories you should eat to lose weight, which is a question I’m asked all the time. When someone says lose weight, I take it to mean “lose fat without losing muscle”, so the following takes that into account.
In my article How To Break A Weight Loss Plateau, I describe the #1 reason why people do not lose weight is because they are eating too many calories. In order to lose weight, you must eat fewer calories than you burn. This is a scientific fact!
Eating fewer calories than you burn is easier said than done, which is why we’ve written so many articles on BuiltLean.com to make this process easier for you.
Here’s the basic equation to calculate how many calories you should eat to lose weight:
Calorie Burn – Calorie Deficit = Target Calorie Intake To Lose Weight
Seems simple enough, right? In order to solve this equation, we need to estimate your calorie burn and calorie deficit, which is Step 1 and Step 2.
Step 1: Calculate How Many Calories You Burn Per Day
While calculating your calorie burn can be tricky as I describe in detail in How to Calculate Your Calorie Burn, here’s a quick way to estimate your calorie burn:
Body Weight (pounds) x 14 = Total Daily Calorie Burn
Or in kilos:
Body Weight (kilos) x 31 = Total Daily Calorie Burn
The equations above assumes (1) you have a sedentary job, (2) you exercise moderately 3-5x per week and (3) your body fat is around 20%-25%. Don’t worry too much if you are not perfect with your estimate, just move to the next step.
Step 2: Determine Your Calorie Deficit Per Day
Many people will choose a random daily calorie deficit say 500, or 1000 calories, but I strongly recommend NOT doing this, because you can easily put yourself in starvation mode. Instead, choose a calorie deficit percentage range of 20%-35% fewer calories than your total calorie burn.
For example, take a guy who is 190 pounds and wants an aggressive calorie deficit to lose weight. He would take his total daily burn of 2,660 (190 pounds x 14) and apply a 30% calorie deficit, which would be 800 calories (30% x 2,660). His target calorie intake to lose weight is 1,860 calories per day (2,660 daily calorie burn – 800 calorie deficit).
Now if you multiply your daily calorie deficit by 7, you get your total weekly calorie deficit. Since 1 pound of fat has 3500 calories, you can estimate how many pounds of fat you can lose each week (usually 1-2 pounds) based on your weekly calorie deficit.
If these equations are starting to seem too complicated, a shorthand method to arrive at your target calorie intake to lose weight is multiply your bodyweight x 10 in pounds, or bodyweight x 22 in kilograms. You will arrive at a very similar number as going through these 3 steps. I think going through these steps, however, helps you understand the process of losing fat better.
Most health organizations recommend men don’t eat below 1,600 calories and women don’t eat below 1,200 calories, but keep in mind this is a law of averages approach. It really depends on how many calories you burn (see: How to Calculate Calorie Burn to estimate your BMR).
So how large of a deficit should you create? The leaner you are the lower your calorie deficit percentage should be (15-20%) whereas for people who have a lot of weight to lose, a 35% deficit could work well.
Step 3: Track Your Progress
In order to validate that you have estimated your calorie burn properly and are eating the right calorie level, we need a way to track your progress. I’m a big fan of tracking body weight with Monday Morning Weigh Ins for all guys and some women (depends on if you are comfortable). If you have any issues with weighing yourself, then monitor how your clothes are fitting, or use a body fat caliper to measure body fat changes over time.
Weighing yourself is a proxy for body fat loss. If you are eating ample protein, moderate carbs, and strength training, it is highly likely if the number on the scale creeps downward that you are losing only fat while keeping your valuable muscle. Measuring your body fat percentage too frequently, such as once per week makes it difficult to discern changes.
So have we found the holy grail of losing fat? Simply choose a target calorie intake and voila, you get a lean body?
Losing fat is more complex than simply “calories in and calories out” and establishing a target calorie intake. For optimal fat loss, you should also consider the quality of calories, timing of calories, and breakdown of calories (protein, carbs, and fat). Finally, positive hormonal and metabolic changes from exercise can accelerate losing fat and have a HUGE impact.
In my experience, understanding how many calories you should eat by establishing a target intake, even just as a rough guide is crucial to successfully losing fat and maintaining body composition, and is actually more important than quality, timing, and breakdown of calories (research confirms this as well).
Nice to know how many calories is ok for maintaining weight and how much to reduce to lose fat. Does working out three times a week that much more effective than twice considering the work-outs to be more or less equal?
My year started off great with 17 Day Diet and lots of exercise. Sadly, after 5 days on the diet, I sprained my left anke badly and the doctor indicated no exercise that requires walking for TWO WEEKS. Any suggestions on exercise so I do not go into starvation mode? I am currently wearing a walking shoe which straps in the ankle and top of foot. Desparate.
@Joanna – Sorry to hear about your ankle. I still think you can eat well and focus on upper body strength training at a fast pace, which will help you continue to improve your body. For example, you can alternate between a pushing movement like pushup, and a pulling movement like a lat pulldown, or dumbbell row. If you have access to a swimming pool and you think your ankle could handle it (may choose to wear a wrap on your ankle), swimming is an amazing low impact aerobic exercise that also engages your muscles as well. My point is that simply with eating better, lifting weights with your upper body, you can continue to make nice improvements. I hope you get healed soon.
@Hank – As you allude to, I think it depends on the type, length, and the intensity of the workout. I love 3x per week, but I’ve seen 2 work very well. What I think matters most is what’s sustainable for you and feels best for your body. 2 Strength training workouts a week can work very well, whereas 3 is personally how many times I workout a week.
Thanks so much for your prompt reply. Happy to report I am in the office now and can use our gym later today. The push ups and lat pull downs are a great suggestion. Do not want to go into starvation mode and your suggested workout should help. So far I have lost 7 lbs this week but have missed the workouts.
A very unbias article you wrote there mate. Understanding Calories concept is very important when you are focusing on a diet that involves lowering your caloric intake. It is not safe to drastically reduce your daily caloric needs, especially if you are considering exercising while dieting. What do you think about Understanding Calories concept?
@Rosiebrag – I think the point about good calories versus bad calories is important, and I plan on adding a few articles/videos about “clean” eating and how it makes calorie control much easier. Clean eating and calorie control go hand in hand. Thanks for the comment!
My calorie burn rate for a day averages 3000 a day. I am eating on average 1800 a day. I am not losing weight but I certainly am shaping up nicely but the scale hasn’t moved an inch over 45 days. I do half an hour of cardio and 20 – 25 minutes of full body weights 5 to 6 days a week. I try and stay clean on the food – veggies, fruits, lots of water and protein. Marco-nutrient ratio changes up daily. I am nervous about eating more. 55 years old, 5’7″, 198. Would like to get down to 180.
@John – Congrats on eating well and working out consistently. That’s fantastic.
There are a few things to mention:
1) It’s important to track your body fat levels somehow. I recommend the $10 accumeasure body fat calipers. It you really think you have already reshape your body, it’s possible you have gained some muscle and lose some fat. It happens less often, but it’s possible.
2) You can try increasing your calorie intake to 2000, or 2200 if you still are not losing fat. See what happens after a couple weeks.
3) You can cycle high calorie days a couple times per week like Monday/Thursday. This way, you will snap back your metabolism if it drops from consistently low calorie intake. So on high days you can have 2500, or higher. If you really are burning 3000 calories per day (it’s tough to pinpoint), then don’t worry about eating more calories.
Hope this is helpful and best of luck!
1)if you wanted to lose 5 lbs of pure fat and replace it with lean muscle, would you do the 40-30-30 rule of carbs, protein and fats for each meal? Can you use 1200-1500 calories/ day as an example.
2)a)Would you still lose pure fat if you did cardio and not as much strength training ?
b)If strength training is a must, how many times a week and is it better to you hit the weights prior to cardio?
c)How long should you aim for each of strength training and cardio each day for the best results?
Sorry for all the questions, I really need a professionals advice!
@Jessica – Here’s what I would do if I were you. Of course for a more in depth discussion, happy to set up a coaching call:
1) I wouldn’t try to lose 5 pounds of fat and replace it with muscle at the same time. I would focus only on losing fat by eating less calories than you burn. You can play with nutrient timing a little bit by eating a solid meal after your workouts, which can make you go anabolic and possibly gain some muscle, but I would strongly recommend focusing on losing fat, because otherwise you will spin your wheels, which I did for literally 5 years. It’s possible that after you lose the fat, you will be pleasantly surprised with how you look and you may not even want to put on more muscle. I think 40-30-30 is fine, but relatively higher in protein than most diets. Considering 1 gram of protein and carbs has 4 calories and 1 gram of fat has 9, you can extrapolate out the number of grams for a certain calorie level. I’m putting up a HUGE how to get ripped article tomorrow that will give you more detail.
2) Strength training is superior to cardio for fat loss, even though it’s counter intuitive. I would highly recommend lifting weights 2x per week, with 2 full body workouts, or one upper body, and one lower body. Then do cardio whenever you want, preferably after the strength training. You can still lose fat with cardio and no weights, but it’s highly likely you will lose muscle if you don’t lift weights. 1lb of muscle has 600 calories and 1lb of fat has 3500 calories, which is one reason why it’s so easy to lose muscle.
3) I like to keep strength training workouts around 30 minutes assuming you are strength training intensely, and cardio around 20-30 minutes. My 8-Week BuiltLean Program uses this type of strategy. I wouldn’t worry too much about being perfect with the exercise. As long as you are sufficiently strength training, you’ll be ok. What I would worry about is you are eating the right number of calories and macronutrient breakdown will help.
if i eat 1200 calories a day will my body get used to it?
i used to eat about 2,080 calories+ a day and now i just started eating 1200 a day.over time will my body get used to only eating 1200 calories a day without feeling like im starving myself?
@Elizabeth porr – That’s a great question. It is possible that your metabolism may decrease a bit as you eat less calories for a long period of time, but it’s likely you can continue burning more calories then you intake at that level. One strategy some dieters use once per week is having a cheat meal, or cheat day to temporarily increase their calorie intake and provide a metabolism a boost if it starts to sputter. I personally wouldn’t do this strategy unless you notice fat loss is slowing down.
In terms of feeling of satiety from eating less calories, hunger is a very complex and individualized topic. From my experience, it is possible to get used to a lower number of calories. When I was an athlete, I used to eat 4-5,000 calories per day. Then I tailed it down to 3,000, now I’m probably around 2,300 for maintenance. It might sounds crazy, but I like eating less calories. I never feel bloated because I never eat too much at one sitting and my energy levels are higher. If I try to eat as much as I used to, I feel like my stomach is going to explode. From what I’ve read, your stomach cannot shrink (even though it certainly feels like it), but there are hormones like leptin that regulate hunger that can change over time.
Another quick thing to mention is that I also tend to drink a little more water as I eat less calories. I can’t tell you how many times I get a “craving” to eat something right after a meal, but it’s really my body telling me I need to drink more water. The hunger pain passes after I drink a glass of water. Hope this is helpful!
@Elisabeth porr – And one more thing to mention is that certain foods can help you feel full more than other foods. For example, it’s easy to eat 500 calories worth of a small brownie that doesn’t fill you up, or you can have a salad with 8 ounces of chicken that will fill you up for several hours. In general, meats and protein in general can help fill you up for several hours.
I’m confused about how many calories I need to maintain my weight at 119 lbs. Lately, I’m more of the mindset that your body fat percentage is more of an accurate indicator of where you are health-wise. I usually eat about 1900 calories on any given day. I’m skeptical when I read about some of these celebrities who say they are on a 1100 calorie-a-day diet because I believe your energy would be extremely low; almost making you sluggish. And portion control is key too. What good is it to eat a bowl of oatmeal if it’s enough for four people? Too much of a good thing can also be bad. People need to also monitor their alcohol consumption because it’s just empty calories going right to your midsection, most likely. Thankfully, I’m not much of a drinker so that part doesn’t pose a problem for me. How many calories are enough for a person?
I am confused about how much food I need. My doctor wanted to make sure I was eating enough for my exercise levels. I am 145- 150 pounds, 24 year old male, and 5 foot 9 inches. I usually do 75-90 minutes on a Schwinn Airdyne at a vigorous level, (spread throughout the day, like 45-60; and then another bout of 20-30 later in the day). I also walk 4-5 miles briskly daily. Throughout the day, I do household chores or am seated. My doctor told me to eat 3500-4000 calories, which seems ridiculous to me. I just don’t like to sit much, other than after a workout when I need to catch a breath :P.
@John – Using the Harris Benedict Method, your BMR is roughly 1662 calories. Assuming heavy exercise 6-7x per week, that brings you to a total of around a 2800-3000 calories per day. I think that’s a decent estimate, but it’s hard to estimate how rigorous you are working out. Tracking your weight is a good way to figure it out. If you are concerned you are eating too little, or too much, you may consider getting a BMR test using a metabolic analyzer. For more info on calorie burn, check out this article: https://www.builtlean.com/2010/03/14/how-to-calculate-your-calorie-burn/. Hope this is helpful.
Thanks- every site was giving me a different number and it was starting to annoy me!
I just wanted to let you know that the calculation thingy you gave was about 700 or so off. I was actually losing a pound or more a week on the 2800 calories a day. I need about 3500-4000 to maintain; however, I eat all healthy foods like veggies, chicken, and fruits. This thing seemed more accurate: fitnessfrog.com/calculators/calorie-calculator.html
@John – It’s actually impossible to know exactly what your calorie burn is and I certainly wouldn’t rely on an online calculator. Ideally, I would use the Katch & McCardle method to arrive at your BMR, then add on the extra calories for your workouts. My suspicion is you are burning a ton of calories with such intense working out, more than what I would have thought. I still think a 3000 calorie estimate is reasonable, but if you are actually losing 1lb of fat per week (which I didn’t know, never got that info) and let’s say you are in-taking 3000 calories per day, then your calorie burn is likely around 3500.
I weigh 10 stone 7 lbs, i have put on approx a stone & a half in 12 months, i am in my 3rd week at the gym now, i have reduced my calorie intake but my weight is the same, i am desperate to loose a stone & then maintain that weight. i visit the gym 3 times per week, one hr per session split between cardio & weights. please can you advise me if i am doing this right or not
@Diane – Congrats on taking your health seriously and continuing to improve your body. I know that not losing fat can be frustrating, but do appreciate all the other benefits exercise is giving you. Here are 31 reasons to exercise: https://www.builtlean.com/2010/10/19/31-reasons-get-in-shape-and-exercise/ .
In my experience, lack of fat loss is usually tied to the nutrition. I strongly recommend reading over the following articles carefully to help improve your nutrition:
Keep a Food Journal: https://www.builtlean.com/2010/06/11/part-1-7-reasons-to-keep-a-food-journal/
Calorie Intake: https://www.builtlean.com/2011/01/18/how-many-calories-should-you-eat-to-lose-weight/
5 Food Groups: https://www.builtlean.com/2010/09/07/the-new-5-food-groups-to-get-lean-healthy/
I know this is a lot of reading, but I’m hoping it will help you get a handle on your nutrition to best leverage your time spent in the gym and maximize fat loss. In addition, 3 weeks isn’t much time and I’ve seen many people plateau for a few weeks, only to start losing weight just when all hope is almost lost!
Keep up the good work, Diane. It’s worth it.
I am around 5’10 160lbs and have been doin p90x for roughly a yr and I’m pretty fit but want to get to that nxt level. I’m nt ripped but pretty muscular and I’m just trying to find a way to get ripped to where u can c all my muscles (mainly in the ABS) and I was just wondering wat I wld have to do or how much I wld have to cut in calories so I’m ripped but dnt lose any muscle
hey can some give me some advice like i see the teens on i used to be fat they loose like 15 lbs in 2 weeks i know its beause they go to the gym for like 5 to 8 hours a day im willing to devote 4 hours 5 days a week and do work outs at home on the weekend i need to loose at least 30 to 40 lbs i want to loose as much weight as possible in 2 weeks like i know i cant loose 15 but maybe 7 or 8 i was thinking i should eat like 1200 calories a day then try to burn at least 3500 a day idk any advice
@ashley – Thank you very much for you comment. I do want to emphasize that losing 15lb in 2 weeks for someone who is 30-40lb overweight is VERY unhealthy. I’m willing to bet A LOT of money, the “weight” will be mostly water weight, some fat, and a lot of muscle. I’ve helped a lot of people transform their bodies and losing much more than 2% of your body weight per week will almost always be muscle/water, not fat. Don’t trust what you see on TV because many of those people sadly gain all the weight back, OR from week to week they lose no weight, or gain some of it back. Some of these shows are so misleading/dishonest that the producers of these shows should be ashamed!
Getting in shape is a marathon, not a sprint. In fact, the faster most people lose weight, the faster they usually put it back on. Make the tough changes in your lifestyle habits that you can sustain and you will be able to enjoy a sexy, toned body the rest of your life! My advice to you is shoot for 1-1.5lb of fat loss per week. Anything more than that is simply ill advised.
I eat at least 400-800 calories per day and I work out by walking 5-8 miles per day six days a week. i used to weigh 247 lbs but now i weigh 136 lbs but my goal is 125 lbs. how many calories should i eat, how many fat calories, protein, carbs and sugars should i eat per day in order to lose 11 pounds in at least 2 weeks?
@Ruby – First, congrats on your impressive weight loss! That’s great to hear.
Here are the answers to your questions:
1) “how many calories should i eat” – please follow the steps I wrote in this article
2) “how many fat calories, protein, carbs and sugars should i eat per day in order to lose 11 pounds in at least 2 weeks?” – With all due respect, losing 11lb in 2 weeks is completely unrealistic unless you want to lose a lot of water, mostly muscle, and some fat. Did someone tell you it’s possible to lose 8% of your weight in fat in 2 weeks? I suggest you check out my Get Lean Guide for more info. Regarding protein/carbs/fat breakdown, that’s something you have to play with. I personally support relatively higher protein diets (30% of calories), low/moderate carbs (30-40%) (depending on tolerance) and low/moderate fat (20-30%). Any sugar not from fruit should be avoided completely if you can do it, or limited as much as possible. For more info on sugar, check out https://www.builtlean.com/2010/10/28/part1-are-you-eating-too-much-sugar/.
O.k… I am a lil confused. 1. I weigh between 160-165, I want to lose around 30-40 pounds I am 32 and 5ft 2in . I have started to work out at the gym with my husband 5-6 times a week i do cardio for 35 -45 mins then strength training with him about 30 mins. I have been doing this for 3 weeks but i have gained weight on the scale but I dont belive it b/c i have started to see results,I eat between 1500-1600 calories a day.1. how much of that should i be burning off at the gym.2.Is it normal to gain weight.3.I am sohungry now,more than before i started working out and no i dont pig out.i deal with it but i saty hungry. need help what am i doingg wrong.
oh and i cut out all soda and drink only water
@Christina – Happy to hear you are taking your health very seriously and exercising diligently and eating well.
1. how much of that should i be burning off at the gym.
Don’t worry about burning calories at the gym. You can estimate the number of calories you are burning using the links in this article, but don’t get hung up on it. Focus on making your workouts a little bit harder and a little more intense over time. That’s what’s important. In addition, you may consider decreasing the amount of time you workout and making the workouts harder and more intense. Personally, I don’t like working out much more than an hour, but it’s obviously up to you.
2.Is it normal to gain weight.
I wouldn’y say it’s “normal”, but it’s not completely unusual. It’s very possibly you’ve lose some fat and gained some muscle because you hadn’t exercised in a while. The fact that you are noticing positive change is most important. At the end of the day, your weight isn’t only one measurement of your health. My belief is that if you continue exercising intensely and eating less calories while taking it easy with the processed carbs, you will start to lose weight. Again, sometimes it just takes time.
3.I am sohungry now,more than before i started working out and no i dont pig out.i deal with it but i saty hungry. need help what am i doing wrong.
This is a fairly long conversation because it goes into food selection, timing of foods etc. about which I’ve literally written an entire program. The Nutrition Section of my BuiltLean Program has meal plans and meal ideas that allows you to eat a lot of food without eating that many calories. That’s one of my favorite strategies for losing fat. If you are not doing so already, emphasizing protein intake can help keep you full. Don’t be afraid to eat a lot of protein, which your body needs anyways, while taking it easy on any empty carbs (which don’t fill you up and make you hungrier). In addition, if you are not eating every 3-4 hours, that’s a strategy I’ve found can work wonders. There’s a lot of debate about meal frequency, but I like the frequent eating model. Another thing to think about, if you are not doing so already, track your calories for a few days. I know you say you are eating between 1500-1600 calories, but all it takes is a couple miscalculations/misinformation and you may be eating more calories. Finally, you need to get a feel for your carb tolerance. Some people can eat a lot of carbs and lose weight, whereas others 100 grams or less per day is ideal for fat loss.
Don’t feel discourage at all. Whether or not you are losing weight, exercise is essential. I do strongly believe you will be able to dial eventually on what type of nutrition works best for you.
Your tips are amazing.
I have been doing Cardio and Weight for 3 weeks now. Amazing metabolism and i feel so much energy. Even if i have not lost Much weight or inches. Visible more fit arms and all.
But is there any way to find out any estimate on Calorie burn and Calorie Intake?
I like the Intense 10 minute cardio method, free hand and Simple Decently weighed Dumbbells for weight. Both done on alternate days and,
Most foods i buy are fresh and hence nothing written on it. My diet is mostly based on Soy protein, wheat (beats rice in the portion control), oats and daily around 250ml of toned milk and Lightly cooked/fried Vegetables and Potatoes. Rarely any Meat and No red meats.
@Jourbert – Thanks for the kind words. Happy to hear you are seeing some solid results. I have two articles I wrote for you to check out that should answer your questions:
How Many Calories Should You Eat To Lose Weight?
How to Calculate Calorie Burn
I weight 145 pounds please help me figure out how many calories I should be eating a day to lose weight, thanks,
@Laura – That’s why I wrote the article so that you can figure it out more precisely on your own. There are tons of calorie calculators online if you just want a simple estimate.
I have been an active 1/2 marathoner the past few years running 6 races in the sub 2 hour time frame. I sustained an ankle injury trying to get out the way after being nearly run over by car and unable to run. I lost motivation to work out and put on about 25lbs. I have finally started to eat right again and taking notes on my daily calorie intake as well as began to run 3 miles 3 days a week and do P90x-ish strength 3 times per week training again. I am 39 5’8 and roughly 180lbs at the moment.
I have been following the BMR formula plus having a desk job using the sedentary calculation to determine my daily caloric intake and taken 35% off that number (which is real close to your formula above). My question is in regarding calorie intake – does it matter what time of day they are consumed? Generally I eat 150 – 250 for breakfast, 500-600 for lunch and 500-600 for dinner. After that I try to get to the minimum by eating a healthy snack (usually after 9 pm).
I’ve never been a model citizen with nutrition and I am trying to learn not only for myself but so I can also teach my children a healthy life style.
@Tony – I definitely know where you are coming from about an injury taking the wind out of your sales. It’s extremely frustrating not being able to push yourself, which is in my mind the fun of working out. I’m happy to hear you are back on track and you want to teach your kids how to eat better.
Research has shown the timing of calories does not have a significant effect on weight loss, so theoretically you could eat one large meal per day and lose roughly the same amount of weight if the same number of calories were spread throughout the day. With that said, I personally advocate a good 4-500 calorie high protein breakfast as it can help create more satiety throughout the day. If you eat less calories than you burn, you won’t feel like you are starving. The game is all about eating less calories without making yourself go crazy. If the style you are following right now is working, then it sounds fine to me to keep it.
My thinking is if you keep up the calorie deficit and continue with your workouts, you should be losing 0.75 to 1.5lb per week.
im a 33 yr old female i weigh 236 lbs my height is 5ft 11 and im currently eating 1400 calories a day working out for 1 hour 6 days a week i do 40 mins cardio and 20 muscle what should my ideal calorie intake be?
@cazz – By my calculations 1900 (assuming 40% body fat, 30% calorie deficit, and using the Katch & McCardle Method, I estimate your BMR to be 1760). With that said, relatively lower calorie diets for people like yourself who have 50+ pounds to lose to reach a healthy weight range (as determined by BMI) can be acceptable. Do check with your doctor before making any changes to your exercise/nutrition program. Also remember that as long as you eat less calories than you burn, you should lose weight. May not happen perfectly linearly, but it will happen! Good luck!
My start weight was 302lbs. I’m a 5’10 female. Therefore, morbidly obese.
I started calorie counting like your article suggested. In two weeks I lost 7lbs. Since then, nothing. I am still so overweight exercise is hard. So I do a brisk walk for 30 minutes every day and my calorie intake is 1250 approx. How do I start to lose more?
@Becsy – How long has your weight plateaued?
For 1 week and 5 days.
@Becsy – Sorry for the late response! I think you should stay mentally strong and continue eating less calories than you burn and tracking your calories. Weight loss is never perfectly linear, some weeks you lose more, some weeks you lose less, some weeks you don’t lose anything, and some weeks you may even gain weight. In fact, the most people hit at least 1, more likely 2, to 3 weight loss plateaus on their journey to a leaner, fitter body. I define a plateau as no weight change for 3 weeks straight.
While hitting a weight loss plateau can be very frustrating, at the end of the day, you are making a lifestytle change that will change how you look and feel in a very deep and dramatic way. In other words, don’t think of dieting, or tracking calories as a “sacrifice”, because it’s not – it’s an opportunity to improve your health and well-being.
Thank you for your words of encouragement. No one knows I’m starting a new change in my life so it’s hard to know what or if I’m doing is right! However, since you last wrote, I’ve lost another pound so I guess perserverence is the key! Your words are perfect. Many thanks for your time.
@Becsy – Awesome, that’s great news! Keep up the great work.
so how many calories should i eat currently i eat 180g of protein/day and on training days i eat 300+carbs/day how i burn more fat?
@toheed – I recommend following the steps in the article to arrive at your target calorie intake then create your macronutrient breakdown. For your reference, 1 gram of protein and carbs has 4 calories and 1 gram of fat has 9 calories.
I’m all so very confused i hope you can help.
i am seriously overweight i weighed 23stone 51/2 pounds 2 weeks ago i’m happy to say that i’m down to 22 101/2 but i could do with some help. as i am sure you can presume my calorie intake was excessive or non exsistent before i was a very erratic eater skipping meals and binging so on and so forth however, i have gotten myself motivated and am now eating around 1,500 calories per day. i do short bursts of exersize on step machines, cross trainers, exersize bike for approx 5 minutes at a time but by the end of the day i normally have burned around 1,200/1,300 calories.
i suppose my question is do you know how much i shoul lose per week doing this or do i have to burn away all the calories i eat for it to have an effect.
i am very clued up on nutrition and eating my 5 a day must have protein and how these all work together for the perfect nutritional balance but my knowledge on exercise and burning calories is a little vague. any help/advice would be much appreciated.
@Rose – You don’t need to burn away all the calories you eat. You need to create a calorie deficit, which means the total amount of calorie burn (BMR + activity level) minus your calorie intake should equal a number that represents a percentage of your total calorie burn. Check out the article for the specific math.
I weigh 115lbs and I’m 5’3″. I started to workout recently and I’m eating the same as before but I’m not seeing any results. I’ve been doing weight lifting but there’s that layer of fat covering the muscle. Should I be counting my calories and try to create calorie deficit to lose weight? Will that make me lose my muscles or put a hold on muscle gaining? I’m just not sure how to lose that fat without making my workouts go to waste.
@Jen – Yes, definitely count your calories for at least a few days. Here’s a must read article on my site: How to Count Calories to Lose Fat. There is also a link in that article to another one about the 7 reasons to keep a food journal. If you eat ample protein (1 gram per pound of LBM), strength train while keeping your strength levels stable, and create a calorie deficit (but not over 35%), I would be shocked if you lose muscle, you should lose only fat.
Hello I am 5″2′, and currently 143 pounds–I started working out again in March (Bootcamp) three days a week, at that time i weighed 170 pounds in October (weighed approx 145) I started a Crossfit program 5 days a week–they usually last between 20 minutes and 1 hour. Since January I have also been tracking my calories and trying to do a Palteo diet (although I am not totally committed to this, I try to stay away from most dairy, most hite carbs–although I will have pizza now and then, and really limited sugar, I am eating fruit), I’ve been trying to have 1200-1300 calories, I was as low as 141 pounds about 1 1/2 – 2 weeks ago, but have gone back up to 143. I can’t seem to budge that number. I am a 41 year old female (42 in a few weeks). i did however have a hystoetomy a few years back and am taking a hormone medicine.
@Leza – the good news is that it sounds like you have an excellent exercise routine and you are eating well. So that’s great. In terms of the scale not moving, hormonal issues can definitely make a difference for sure. It can be a complicated subject that I do plan on tackling in future articles, but not for a while.
With that said, it’s only been a couple weeks since you’ve plataued, which isn’t much time. I would consider giving yourself another 1-2 weeks. If the scale still doesn’t budge, consider upping your calorie intake to 1800-2000 which is probably around how many calories you burn per day. Do that for 3-5 days, then try dropping the calories again and see what happens. Sometimes hitting a plateau can happen after dieting for a while because the metabolism can slow down a bit over time. Of course, do check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet/exercise program. Good luck and keep up the good work!
Another week has passed and I’m down to 288lbs from 302lbs at the start of the year. Your words before have really stuck, and I wanted to thank you again. I have read and re read your article, and have tried calculating my ideal calorie intake.
5’10 female. 15mins jogging a day 5 days a week. 288lbs. I’d like to see your advice and compare it to what I worked out with your calculator just to see if I’m doing the calorie control thing properly!
Massive thank you for your time. Can’t empathize enough what it means!
@Becsy – I’m really happy to hear you are motivated and making changes in your body! My best guess is your BMR is around 1800 calories assuming your LBM is around 150-160lb somewhere around 1800-2000 calories could work, with 2000 being the safer level. With that said, some nutritionists may recommend going lower, but it really depends. If you do eat 2000 calories per day and your weight doesn’t go down, than you can take down the calories. I’m not a nutritionist, or doctor, so you should consult with them before making any drastic changes on your diet/exercise routine. Keep up the great work!
Hi there Marc,
I was just after a bit of advice to supplement/improve the healthier lifestyle and better body i’m trying to achieve. I’ve been going to the gym approximately 3 times a week. There I do approximately 30mins interval cardio and about 35/40mins resistance and free weights. I don’t diet as I think it’s an unrealistic thing to keep up, but I am eating more healthily and trying to cut out/decrease the amount of ‘bad’ foods I eat such as cheese.
I’m 5’2 and approximately 135 pounds and would ideally like to lose a stone as quickly (but healthily) as possible. I find that eating healthily has little effect on me unless I drastically reduce my intake which I don’t want to do, but exercise really makes a difference if I am consistent with it.
I’ve also noticed that my weight stays pretty constant, but I see and can measure the difference exercise and healthy eating has. I find this pretty strange as I can’t be gaining that much muscle? I’m also losing weight everywhere apart from my upper legs and hips. I know I carry quite a bit of water weight and was wondering if you knew a good way of reducing this.
Sorry to ask you so many questions!
@Lucy – I’ll try to do my best to answer your questions. I don’t think “dieting” needs to be very painful and unrealistic. It’s all about the approach. Secondly, eating healthy doesn’t mean you will lose any weight. In fact, you can eat healthy foods but still gain weight if you eat too many calories of that “healthy food”.
If you have a strategic approach of filling up on foods that do not provide many calories but fill you up, I bet you can eat a lot less calories without even realizing it. For example, a handful of berries and a glass of water is roughly 40-50 calories and 7 grams of sugar, versus a cliff bar which has 240 calories, 42 grams of carbs with 21 coming from sugar. My bet is your satiety will be roughly equal eating one, or the other, yet one is 200 calories more than the other! Check out this post: Top 10 Fat Loss Foods.
It certainly is possible to gain a little bit of muscle and lose a little bit of fat over a period of time so that your body does change. Ideally, though, you do want to see the scale go down and your body fat go down if you have excess body fat because there is only so much muscle the body will put on naturally, which is not a lot unless you are lifting very heavy and eating a ton of protein/calories. Hope this helps!
I am very confused about calorie intake, and exercise. I have an app on my iphone to keep track of calories, exercise and all that. Ive had 2 kids and try to be pretty active, walking, hiking, wii fit, and videos. I aslo try to eat pretty healthy. BUT I dont lose weight very fast or I lose some and just plateau. My app tells me at 145 pounds and being 5’2 that I need to only eat 1200 cals a day and that most of my food intake is carbs and fats and hardly any protein. My biggest problem is not eating enough and I drink 2 espressos a day to keep me going. Most of the time my app tells me that im under the 1200 calorie intake and in starvation mode. Is this why Im so tired and not losing weight?? I like working out 3 days a week the others Im pretty busy with kids. I also dont eat very much meat but will eat chicken. I want to get down to 115 pounds and I dont want to take a year to do it! I also cant afford the gym.
What would you recommend for My workout and calorie intake. Should I be taking protein shakes?
@Jessica – your situation sounds quite complex. It sounds like you may not be eating enough calories for your body and those calorie calculators and apps are not perfect. If you are intaking a lot less calories, it’s very possible you are deficient in one, or more vitamins and minerals, which could partly explain your drowsiness. In addition, if you are not properly hydrated, that can have a big impact. I don’t know what you are eating, which is very important. A combination of eating less calories and the right calories is what differentiates success from failure long term. The right calories I mean whole, natural, unprocessed foods like veggies, fruits, lean meats, legumes, some grains, and nuts/seeds. If you are eating a small pizza, that’s not going to help you even if it’s low calorie because you won’t be satisfied and will almost certainly be deficient in various vitamins/minerals. You should consider a greens supplement. or multi-vitamin in the morning for nutritional insurance. If you still experience issues, I suggest consulting with a nutritionist.
I gained 6 pounds after Christmas, and have the worst time getting it off. My body is bouncing the same pound or so back and forth since December 31st. I do not eat white carbs, eat five sevings of fruits and veggies a day, eat no diet dinners, cook with fresh and frozen veggies. I only eat lean meats, eggs and mostly low fat cheese. I teach spin three days a week, adn workout five to six days total. Getting in at least 45 minutes of cardio or more those days. I weigh 195 pounds and am a female at 5’5. I counted calories and I seem to be eating around 1500 to 1700 calories daily but usually around 1500. Any ideas on how to end this cycle?
@Monica – I would continue exercising as you are and eating as you are. I would make sure you are drinking enough water and hydrating given the amount of exercise you are doing. Drinking enough water can be the difference to break through a plateau. From first glance and without a detailed analysis, what you are doing looks reasonable to me. My best guess is the weight will start to come off, and may even come off fairly quickly.
great idea guys 🙂
Hello I was just wondering what you think I should do, i am a 24 year old male I am 5’6 and 155 lbs and I want to lose fat and be stalky eventually have abs …. But I eat healthy abot 1500 cals a day and I jog about 3 mile 6 days a week and I do body weight workouts 4 days a week and somedays I even do some intervals for cardio but the 3 weeks I’ve been doing this I have only lost 5 lbs and now nothing I have been stuck here for a week so can I help me also about how much should I weigh
@Bruce – Losing 5lb in 3 weeks is an above average pace of fat loss for someone your size. Anything near losing 1% of your body weight in fat per week is considered the high end pace of fat loss. given it’s only been one week you haven’t lost any more weight, I wouldn’t worry about it. I consider 3 weeks straight of losing no weight a fat loss plateau; not two, or one. There are a bunch of reasons why fat loss plateaus can happen. Make sure you are drinking enough water and just keep on pushing. Almost everyone I’ve met who had an incredible body transformation hit at least 1, if not 2, or 3 plateaus.
Sir marc, i am a 22 year old guy with a 6 foot height .. I had an accident in 2009 when i suffered 13 fractures including right elbow left wrist and right femur(thigh) and right tibia (leg) ….. I have rods in all the fractured areas … I gained weight and weighed 280 pounds 3 weeks back … I started weight training and cardio and also dieting … On normal days ive been eating 1000 calories aprox but ive also had 3 4 cheat days in these 3 weeks …
1. Ive lost 14 pounds (6.2 kgs) in these 3 weeks .. After reading your aricle, im worried, am i losing weight too quick ??
2. You mentioned in one of your comments , that the person loses more muscle and water and less fat if hes losing too quick … But my question is .. If the person is actually buildin muscles by strentgh training everyday , how can he lose muscle ??
3. i must also mention i have less stamina for cardio because i smoke .. I walk on treadmill for 15 minutes daily b4 going to gym and than do strentgh training for an hour ( i dont face any stamina problems at the gym only in cardio) .. But in any case .. I goto gym 6 days a week and cardio everday .. Am i exercisin enuff ?? Or shud i increase it ???
Im eagarly waiting for your reply .. Thankyou
1 more question … If its only about calorie intake … Why do all dietricians healthy food like fruits and egg whites ? If a person eats 1 slice of pizza 3 times a day that would still be hardly a 1000 calories .. Shudnt the person than still lose weight ?
@Sadiq – Great question, Sadiq. The short answer is that you are exactly correct – you can lose weight eating 1 slice of pizza 3 times per day because weight loss requires that you eat less calories than you burn. What you must take into account is the difference between weight loss and fat loss. It’s very possible you are losing both fat and muscle if you eat fast food and garbage calories as I call them. This is very undesirable because you won’t look leaner even if you lose weight and your metabolism will decrease. In addition, your energy levels may suffer if you don’t get the right number and balance of nutrients in your diet, which is a big reason why nutritionists (at least the smart one’s) emphasize nutrient dense foods. Whole foods that are unprocessed are your best bet (i.e. fruits, veggies, lean meats, nuts and seeds, etc.). There’s a lot more to say, but I hope that’s compelling enough!
Hello! I am 5’1” 128-130 pounds and trying to get down to 120-122. I have been working out and eating healthier, but haven’t fully committed to anything stable, yet. I’d like to develop and plan and stick to it! I work out 3-4 times a week, for about 30-45 minutes at a time. I usually just run for 35 minutes on the treadmill, but I really don’t enjoy it and haven’t seen any results. I’d also like to tone my arms, so I would love to add some strength training into my workout but don’t know the right moves. I do have muscle and don’t want to gain anymore, just want to tone! Any advice on a workout plan to help me lose weight? If you can help me with that, I can keep my calorie intake to 1200 (if that is what is suggested). THANKS!
@Cindy – Looks like you are now far away from your goal weight. I do not have a workout program, or plan that I endorse at this time unfortunately, other than my BuiltLean Program. With that said, I think if you commit to say 2-3 full body strength workouts per week combined with a little interval cardio 1-2 days per week, that could be a good plan. So whatever number of days you are willing to work out for the long run, then commit to that number. The nutrition is the key part of the equation, but the exercise will certainly help. If you can only workout 3x per week, so be it. Do 2 full body workouts. Also, there’s no set in stone rule you need to run on a treadmill for 35 minutes. I personally spend less than 10 minutes on a treadmill, but I do a lot of sprints.
Also I was wondering since I’m 5’6 an 24 years old around what should my bodyweight be? To be lean?
@Bruce – I think these two article should answer your question:
1) 5 Ways to Measure Body Fat Percentage
2) Ideal Body Weight Formula
Out of all the things I have been reading about calculating your weight loss, etc and this is the first I read about BMR, it sounds the most practical. I am on a mission to lose 30 pounds and I plan to do it this time. I will incorporate your advice into my plan. The hardest part is working out and sticking with it and being consistent. It’s only after I start working out do I find the motivation because at this point I’ve lost a few pounds and have more energy, etc…it’s getting the motivation to get started. Another self sabotage thing I do is I can usually eat healthy throughout the day but when I get stressed or if it’s late at night, sometimes it’s harder to as disciplined. One thing I am going to try is to package my own veggies like your friends Emily and Dave. I read your article about their healthy eating habits this morning and it sounds very practical and affordable for me.
Lastly Marc, I like to run, but since I’m a beginner, I find it hard to build my endurance, what do you suggest?
@Sharon – Great to hear you are already making progress and determined to lose the unwanted weight. I think you should use the concept of progression to build up your endurance. What i mean is that each workout, or each week you can do a little more than you did last time. So for example, if you are jogging on the elliptical for 5 minutes, then the next workout do 5.5 minutes, than 6 minutes and so on and so forth. This gradual improvement over time leads to impressive changes.
Regarding the late night food, I would throw out everything in your apartment/home that is not nutrient dense, or a whole, natural food. It is wasteful? No I don’t think so, because any sugary, processed food belongs in the garbage. Not to be melodramatic, but sugar is toxic and I would recommend that you and your family avoid it. Some ideas for late night snacks include low sodium beef/turkey/ostrich jerky (very low calorie, fills you up), green tea, and even sugar free Popsicle. But I really can’t emphasize how important it is to clear your cupboards of unhealthy food to avoid the temptation. Also, in terms of changing your habits, whenever you feel the urge to start binge eating, write down the situation you are in, what you are feeling, what you are craving etc. This can help you break the habitual pattern.
Starting in 2006, I’ve lost 45lbs, but I seem to plateau every time at 170/165lbs. Two years ago I was down around 163 and felt great, though I couldn’t lose my spare tire. The past year was very stressfull for me and I went up to 182lbs. And that was went I realized it was time to get back to the gym. Though I’m back down to 170lbs over 8 weeks, I’m afraid of plateauing and my midsection is not reducing down.
I am 66.5 inches tall and 33 years old. I’ve been eating roughly a 1200 calorie diet, though there are days when I consume close to 2000, but only like once/twice a week. My workout routine is 4 straight days of cardio with every other day weight lifting (only my legs and abs), then rest 1 day, cardio/weight the next, rest 1 day, then back to 4 days straight. I started with burning 650 calories for three weeks, then went up to 850 for four weeks, and then 1000 for 1 week.
I was planning to have a light week a the gym, burning only 400-500 calories a day.
I really don’t like to spend more than a hour on cardio because I tend to get bored easy. So I try to pack in the most intense cardio for a hour, though I will go a little longer to reach my goal – like ten minutes.
Am I overdoing it? Am I screwing up my metabolic rate up? And how do I get rid of my midsection without doing crazy ab workouts?
@Reba – It’s great to see you are taking your health very seriously. It looks like you are trying to rely on a ton of cardio to help you fat, which is fine, my worry though is that you are setting yourself up for failure. What I mean is that the feverish pace of exercise you are completing may not be sustainable over the long run, which may end up gaining the weight back yet again. In fact, most people are the so called yoyo exercisers.
I would consider refining your exercise regimen so it’s something that is more manageable, or can at least be easily tweaked to make it more manageable so you can sustain if for the long haul. The primary purpose of exercise in a fat loss program is NOT to burn calories, it’s to keep your muscle as you lose fat. Then I would argue improve hormonal balance, then 3rd is burn calories. It sounds like you are in an almost desperate state to burn calories, which I don’t think is healthy. Keep in mind you are eating less calories so that should help you lose fat. That’s the most important part of all. Finally, I would seriously reconsider your weight training regimen, as that alone can make a difference. Completing full body workouts can help stimulate your metabolism and prevent it from dropping as you diet. Furthermore, women tend to have weak upper bodies not only relative to men, but just in general.
i am glad to say i am still losing weight in total now 22 pounds however, i came across an article on the net where i had to calculate my age weight height etc to count how many calories my body will burn day to day without exercise. now i am still doing exercise but was wondering if you could shed some light on this. apparently my calculation comes to i should burn 2,238 calories per day before exercise and i am eating 1,500 calories per day does this mean that in a week i should have burned off 1 and half pounds per week before i add in my exercise. or is this likely to be false information?
many thanks for any help you can offer
@Rose – as I state in the article, you take your total calorie burn (BMR + exercise) and subtract that from your target calorie intake to arrive at your calorie deficit. Take that calorie deficit and multiple it by 7, then divide by 3500. That’s an estimate of your weight loss per week, but it’s not perfect because water fluctuations etc. can affect the number.
Back in 2010 I used to weight 206 lbs. I went on my own (working out and cutting carbs) and was able to get down to 119 lbs. I am a female, 5’3″. My problem is that I was keeping my 119lb but all of the sudden I started to gain pounds (even by going to the gym and eating healthy), from 119 I went to 124, then gradually 130. Which I still don’t get…same amount of exercise, same healthy diet but more pounds. I was just doing cardio (trademill and elliptical) for about 1h15m at least 4 times a week.
A few weeks ago a friend suggested that I should do straight training to see if that would give me better results, long story short, I started a new routine, 40 minutes cardio and 50 straight training (I don’t like free weight and love the machines), I have noticed that
1. I get hungrier and can’t stop eating, so I am eating bananas, red grapes, blueberries, a handful of peanuts and low sodium ham slices – will the fruits I am eating make me gain more pounds?
2. I went now from 130 to 134; my legs look bigger but according to other people that is just muscle growing, is this normal? weight gain even while I am working out 4 times/week?
I don’t understand what am I doing wrong, and I hate to see the scale in the morning going up and up. Right now I went from size 5 to 7 after I started my strength training.
I drink lots and lots of water everyday.
Thank you for any advise!!!
@Katherine O. – Sorry to see it doesn’t look like the scale and your measurements are going in the right direction. That is bizarre you suddenly started to gain weight despite eating a healthy diet with the same exercise. I would reconsider if you started eating any different foods from when you started gaining the weight. For example, a few tablespoons of peanut butter and a banana above and beyond what you normally eat could be enough to make a difference.
With regards to strength training, I think it’s great you are doing it. Absolutely essential. I am not a fan of cardio only programs for a ton of reasons. With that said, it sounds to me like you need to take a closer look at your eating habits. I would track your calories for a few days, or preferably 1-week and see what’s going on. Roughly how many calories are you eating? Are there times when you start binge eating? I also think you should try to focus on whole, unprocessed foods with an emphasis on protein, which creates a greater feeling of satiey/fullness. Fruits can be fine in moderation, with an emphasis on berries. Just like any food, too much of anything is not a good thing (the only exception might be fibrous carbs like broccoli, spinach, kale etc.).
im also confused by online calorie intakes im 179lbs 5″5 i exercise 4 times a week for 30 mins doing tony hortons 10 minute trainer.i gained 1 stone in 5 weeks over christmas and i would like to lose that weight in in same time i put it on and abit more over time.iv been told to eat 1300-1900 calories a day by different sites.iv considered eating 800 caloires a day to speed up the weight loss i put on but dont no if that will work or should i eat 1200.im soooo confused please help.
I would like to say a huge thank you to you for all your help, I have used your different links and calculated my BMR and now I realise what all this is actually about Phew never really thought I was going to get it all sorted and being a virgo its very important for my pace of mind to have control lol!!!!!!
I now realise by my BMR that I am burning more than I eat, that I should be losing approx 2.5 pds per week without exercise, therefore I can now not feel as guilty at not doing what I thought was expected of me. So thanks to you I have now worked out what my BMR is for each pound Lost from now which means again I can be more organised. As I’m sure you can tell I believe organisation is the key! I now have an as accurate plan of the amount of calories I burn a day doing my sedentary job, using other calculators I can, as I do more exercise I know how much more I need to undertake and how to modify my calories and I have to say it’s all thanks to you taking the time to speak with us.
so from one extremely overweight person who’s about to have peace of mind and a healthier life i thank you and hope to keep you posted on my progression on this link so you can see the success your comments can achieve.
Thank you again
@Rose – Very happy to hear the article was helpful!
I just came across your site a few days ago and I’m finding it to be very informative and helpful. Thank you for all you do to help each of us obtain and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I have a question concerning daily calorie deficit calculations, “How frequently should one recalculate their daily calorie deficit numbers as they lose weight (fat) and become more lean during their progress towards their goal weight?” I am currently recalculating mine each week after doing my weekly weigh-in. Does it need to be that frequent or should I be doing on monthly basis or only after losing a determined amount of weight or should it be recalculated after losing a percentage of their original body weight? thank you for any insight you provide concerning this question.
Great question, Bill. I’ve head a number of clients experience success on just one calorie intake – let’s say 1800 calories for a guy – with no adjustments as they lose weight. If you wanted to get more specific, you could recalculate it every month. So if you are 190 pounds and drop to 180 pounds in a month (which would be a lot), you can drop 100 calories off your calorie intake.
Thank you Marc for such a quick response. Just for clarification, when you say, “…you can drop 100 calories off your calorie intake”, does that mean one could increase their calorie intake by 100 calories? So, if their calorie intake was at 1800 as by the example in your answer and that individual dropped 10 lbs in weight from 190 to 180 their newly adjusted calorie intake would be 1900. Is that correct? It may be just me but in the answer it sounds like one would subtract (drop) the 100 calories from the initial 1800 for a difference of 1700. Thank you for your help, I just want to ensure I understand this correctly.
Keep up the awesome work you are doing with this site, it is really informative and helpful. I’m finding it to be an invaluable resource!
Hi Bill, sorry for not being clearer, when I said “drop off”, I meant subtract. So 190 pounds to 180 would be 1900 calories to 1800 calorie intake. Calorie intake goes down as you lose weight. Hope that clears everything up!
Hi Marc. Thanks for the artical. I have one question. Is this true that you need one day every week to eat more so this can help to reset your burning rate. I have heard this but not sure if it is correct.
That’s a great question, Dani. Eating more calories once per week to reset your metabolism is an advanced nutrition strategy that may, or may not, make sense for you.
First and foremost, we recommend establishing a solid nutritional foundation where you’re eating mostly whole, unprocessed foods about 80% (or more) of the time. Whole foods are more nutrient-dense, satiating, and tend to be lower in calories than processed and packaged foods. Fill your meals with vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats & carbs to make sure you’re getting the carbs, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients that your body needs.
Once you’re consistently eating a primarily whole foods diet and exercising regularly, you can use strategies like calorie-loading once per week to reset leptin and ghrelin, and increase your metabolic rate. But this honestly might not be necessary for you. It all depends on how your body responds to your training and eating plan. You might be able to achieve your goals simply by eating and exercising right.
Does that make sense? There are so many ways to complicate nutrition. We like to keep things simple until more advanced strategies become necessary for you to achieve your goals.
-Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor
Thanks a lot Kristin. Actually, i have managed to reduce my fat from 13KG to 1.5KG (to be single digit BF%). I facing difficulties to remove the last 1.5KG. My i am working out 3-4 days a week. Basically, in my workout, i am doing jogging for 5 mins and then weight lefting for 40 mins following a focused program, then 20 mins sprinnting with HR between 145-160 and then swim for 30 mins free style (1500 M). My eating is normal, i mean eating less than burning. I am 39, 180cm and 76KG.
so is it normal to struggle in the last 1-2 KG fat to become single digit BF?
Thank you for the article, it’s been really interesting reading.
I am a keen marathon runner but have had a few months sedentary after discovering I was severely anaemic. My iron and haemaglobin levels are now back to normal so I’m back in training, but I’m not losing any of the weight I have put on whilst I have been unwell. If I am exercising fairly heavily (5 workouts per week with two rest days doing yoga) does the same calculation apply or should I be eating more to allow for my training? Perhaps I’m not eating enough? (I’ve just read your other article on Starvation Mode) I’ve never had this problem before, usually I eat when hungry with a bit extra on days where I’m intensively working out or doing a long training run and my weight is usually fairly static…
Thank you Abi
Hey Abigail, in an ideal world, you would eat a certain calorie level – let’s say 1400 calories (I don’t know how much you weigh, I’m just giving you an example) – and stick with it to see if you lose fat. If not, then adjust accordingly. I prefer keeping things really simple by limiting variety to make eating fewer calories easier. Most of the time, eating fewer calories helps reduce body fat assuming you have normal hormone levels / metabolism (See: Weight Loss Plateau. For a more in depth read and calculation, you can check out How to Calculate Your Calorie Burn. I use the Katch & McArdle method. If you need more help, consider consulting with a nutritionist
Hi Marc, great article.
Please can you shed some light for me as I have been trying to wrap calories around my head the past few days..
My BMR is 1395 kcal
My “maintain weight” is 1918 kcal
Now how do I adjust and work everything out? (Im getting mixed responses from different websites)
Do I take the calories I have eaten, minus the calories I have burnt for that day (I have a smart watch) or do I take calories eaten, minus “maintain weight” calories and come to my calorie deficit?
Im trying to make a spreadsheet, but not sure which route to take as both “formulas” end up with different calorie deficits.
If it helps at all:
Im 34, female
Thank you and looking forward to your reply.
Hey Mandy, this can be confusing. Let me explain how this works – consider the total number of calories you burn per day – say 1900 calories – then create a deficit like 30%. So if you burn 1900 calories, your deficit will be 570 calories (30% x 1900 calories). Now you subtract the deficit from the total calorie burn to arrive at your target calorie intake, which 1330. Calorie burn – Calorie Deficit = Calorie Intake. Your maintenance calories are usually the same as your calorie burn. I hope this clears things up!
2 years ago I decided I had enough of being overweight, stress and lack of expertise, poor diet were the main culprits. I hired a personal trainer for 6 sessions. I wanted a a fitness routine specific to my needs in order to loose weight and tone my body. My goal was to loose 40lbs ( yes I know a little unrealistic, that was also the opinion of my coach).
Anyway, I took 3 sessions to learn to use the weight machines and set out my excercice program… 6 weeks later I met with the coach again and took the 3 remaining sessions to ensure I was on the right track and that my routine was accurate… I had made progress and the weight was coming off slowly but consistently.
8 months later I was very proud of my accomplishments. I had a new look and a new wardrobe… set up another 6 sessions with the same coach. He was actually pleasantly surprised of the result. This time I wanted a different type of routine to tone my “back side”.
While I had every intentions of following up on that goal a ski accident derailed everything. Both my arms were out of order for a year due to shoulders injuries.
I am sad to say that I have gained back 20lbs due to a major set back. However I have to say that while my shoulders are still not completely recovered, reading the acticles above is motivation enough to return to the gym and give it another go. I still need to strengthen my shoulders but believe that by doing lower body strength training at the same time I should be able to get back to my pre-injury weight and shape.
Thanks for your support.
Sorry to hear about the issues you’ve experienced, Jill. It sounds like now you are ready to improve your health and lose the excess weight!