The daily calories each person needs differs from person to person (the taller you are, the more muscle you have, the more you move - the more calories your body needs to function properly).
When we’re in weight loss mode, what we want to assess is how many calories we need to stay the same weight (maintenance), then subtract a deficit from that number. The number we need on a daily basis changes from day to day. On days we move more, we need more calories. On days we’re more sedentary, we need less.
I’ll use me as an example… Keep in mind I’m an individual with my own body type, and my own set of circumstances. These aren’t numbers others should follow.
For me to stay the same (or about the same), I need about 1600 calories a day. This is on a day I don’t workout and I’m about averagely active. On days I workout, I burn about 400-800 calories. On those days, I need to eat between 400-800 calories MORE to stay the same (between 2000-2400 calories). There are other factors too. WHAT I’m eating matters, and I can zig zag a bit to even it out overall: eating more on some days and less on others. Regardless, these are my maintenance calories.
(Keep in mind, I don’t count calories. These are calculations that are ”good” to know. I use how I feel & how my clothes fit as indicators of whether or not I need to tighten things up. I don’t weigh myself and I’m not in weight loss mode.)
Now, let’s say I was in weight loss mode. I would subtract my desired deficit from my final number to know how much I should eat. For a pound a week, I’d be creating a deficit of 500 calories on average a day. On a day I’m not working out, that would bring me to around 1200 calories (I don’t go lower). On a day I AM working out, that would bring me to about 1500-1900 calories. (Note; these numbers are not set in stone. I can play with them a bit to move them around as I see fit).
Basically, you want to know your BMR (how much your body needs on an average day), then ADD your daily activity (how much you burn from your normal activity - walking, working, etc), then ADD the calories you burn from your workouts. That will give you your final number. From your final number, you can make adjustments and subtract your deficit. This will give you your calorie target for weight loss.
A few things…
To get the right number of calories you need to be eating, use this formula…
1. Calculate your BMR (current body weight x 10) = _________
2. Calculate your daily ‘living life’ calorie burn (If you’re sedentary: BMR x 0.10. Moderately active: BMR x 0.20. Very Active: BMR x 0.30). BMR x ___ = Daily Life Burn
3. Find out how many calories you’re burning during your workouts. This can be tricky, but don’t rely on machines alone. Expenditure will vary based on height, weight, intensity, muscle mass & fitness level. Most people overestimate their burn. Use your own resources, a monitor like a Body Bugg, or a professional assessment to get a good idea.
4. Put all those numbers together.
BMR + Daily Life Burn + Workout Burn = ________
That final number is the number you need to subtract your deficit calories from… your calorie target. For 1lb a week, subtract 500 calories per day, in a combination of diet & exercise. Try not to subtract more than 1000 calories from this number (500 is ideal for people with 10lbs or less to go), or go below 1200 calories total. The closer you are to your goal weight, the SLOWER the weight loss will be. Don’t get discouraged though. 1lb a week is plenty.
My example: BMR: 1250, Daily Life Burn: 375, Workout Burn: 0-800, depending on the day. My total for a BIG workout day is 2425. My total for a non-workout day is 1625.
Try the calculations above and see how that matches up! If your numbers are similar, you’re on the right track. If they are WAY off, you might want to reassess.
Hope this helps!