CALORIE is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 litre of water by 1 degree Centigrade.
It is simply a measure of heat energy. When food is burned, it releases a certain amount of heat (energy), depending on the type of food. The more calories a certain type of food contains, the more energy will be released when it is burned.
It is also the amount of energy in food and the amount of energy stored in the body as body fat (adipose tissue) and stored carbohydrate (glycogen).
Body fat is very similar to a storage tank for energy, it is the fuel that we use up for all of our activities. An individual’s lack of inactivity makes body fat just sit in storage until you need it.
If you weigh 200 pounds with about 18% body fat, you have 126,000 calories of energy reserves sitting idly in your tissues!
The body’s energy reserves, if unused, accumulate over time and turn to fatty tissue because the body is a very efficient fat-storing machine.
People have to realize that it is unhealthy to maintain excess fat deposits in today’s day and age. As much as possible, calorie intake and energy use should be maintained at a balance to reduce the effect of excess fat accumulation in the body’s muscle tissues.
Better yet, engaging in aerobic/exercise/workout activities should be undertaken to turn excess calories into muscle growth and development for a healthier and more productive lifestyle.
Count your Calories!
Keep track of your calorie intake and calorie expenditure. If you don’t, you will most probably end up in a calorie surplus stage which will invariably turn stored energy into stored excess body fat!
You simply can not do this by restricting your calorie intake because of the body’s natural starvation response. The best way to neutralize calorie surplus is through increased physical activities to burn calories and convert whatever excess calories are left into muscle tissues.
Calorie intake awareness is important: if you burn more calories than you consume, your body will stored fat for energy and you will lose weight whereas if you consume more calories than you burn daily, you will store the surplus and gain weight!
Calculating Calorie Requirements
Before you formulate your personal fat loss plan, you must know how to calculate your daily total calorie expenditure (DCE), the total amount of calories you burn up everyday. DCE is the number of calories your body burns in 24 hours for all activities even while during sleep.
Exercise physiologists report that the daily average maintenance level for men and women in the United States is 2700-2900 and 2000-2100 calories, respectively; however, there may be variations dependent on individual activity levels and genetic factors.
Factors that Affect Daily Calorie Requirements
There are 6 factors that have a direct impact on individual daily calorie requirements which must be taken into account in order to make an accurate measurement of daily calorie requirements.
The body’s metabolic rate goes down with age however, through by developing more muscles through proper nutrition and exercise, you can arrest the age-related slowdown.
Basal Metabolic Rate
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the total number of calories your body burns for normal bodily functions like digestion, circulation, respiration, temperature regulation, cell construction and other metabolic processes in your body excluding physical activity. It accounts for approximately 60% of a person’s daily calorie expenditure. BMR varies significantly from person to person due to genetic factors.
Males usually require more calories than females because the male body naturally has much more muscle mass than the average female body.
Muscle Mass (Mm)
Although the total body weight is directly proportional to the amount of calories required, breaking down total weight into its muscle and fat components allows for a more accurate calculation of daily calorie needs. Mm is directly proportional to the BMR, therefore if you want to increase your BMR, the solution is to increase your Mm!
The amount of physical activity is the second most important factor that affect calorie requirements. The more active you are, the more calories you burn and vice versa.
Total body weight and total body size also influence the number of calories you require. The bigger you are, the more calories you require for physical activity.
To accurately measure Daily Calorie Expenditure (DCE), you have to determine your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), multiply the BMR by an activity factor to determine DCE.
To calculate BMR, we will use the Katch-McArdle formula which provides a more accurate calorie estimate since it uses the BMR based on Mm.
Activity Factor Values
Sedentary = BMR x 1.2 (little or no exercise)
Lightly Active = BMR x 1.375 (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/wk) Moderately Active = BMR x 1.55 (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/wk)
ery Active = BMR x 1.725 (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/wk)
Extra Active = BMR x 1.9 (hard daily exercise/sports, etc.)
The Katch-McArdle Formula is accepted as the most accurate method of calculating daily calorie requirements.
BMR = 370 + (21.6 x Mm[kg])
Sex ………………………………………………………. Male Weight …………………………………. (200 lbs) 90.90kg
Body Fat % …………… (17%) 34 lbs fat; 166 lbs lean Lean Body Mass ……………………… (166 lbs) 75.45kg
BMR = 370 + (21.6 x 75.45) = 1999.72 (2000) Calories/Day
To calculate for DCE, you simply multiply BMR by the Activity Factor Value:
DCE = BMR (1999.72) x Activity Factor Value (1.375) = 2749.61 (2750)
Once you have established DCE maintenance level, you can make the necessary adjustments to your calories intake.
Calorie Adjustments for Fat Loss
Although a calorie triggers the body’s natural starvation response and slows down the metabolism, it is important to reduce calorie intake if you want to lose fat.
Manageable calorie deficits without triggering the body’s starvation response can be accomplished by releasing the body’s stored energy (calories) to induce a deficit. Artificial calorie deficit can be induced a combination of proper nutrition and exercise.
Since calorie reduction triggers loss of muscle mass, we need to determine the safe level at which calorie loss will not trigger this effect.
The ACSM recommends that reduction of calories should be at least 500 but not more than 1000 below your daily maintenance level (DCE). A safer method of establishing calorie reduction is to reduce it by a percentage value relative to your DCE.
A more precise way to determine your correct calorie deficit would be to use a percentage deficit relative to your maintenance level. Reducing calories by 1520% below maintenance level is a good place to start. A larger deficit (25- 30%) might be necessary in some cases, but the best approach would be to keep your calorie deficit from diet small, while increasing your activity level to create a bigger deficit, if needed.
Do not rush into losing weight because the body recognizes that it as a substantial calorie reduction; it will instinctively go into the starvation response and slow down calorie burning to your disadvantage.
Weight (lbs) 200.00
DCE (calories) 2800.00
Calorie Deficit to Lose Weight …………………..-500.00 Optimal Calorie Intake for Weight Loss = 2300.00 Calories or
Calorie Deficit to Lose Weight …………………….. 20%
Calorie Deficit by Percentage of DCE (.20% x 2800.00) = 560.00 Calories Optimal Calorie Intake for Weight Loss = 2240 Calories
Adjust your DCE
To adjust your DCE, you have to monitor how your body responds; measure and record your results and make necessary adjustments on your calorie intake and exercise levels. Keep focused on your goal – losing fat or gaining muscle. They can not be accomplished at the same time. Lose fat first then work on gaining muscle while maintaining your current fat level.
Cycling Calorie Intake Maximizes Fat Loss
Every time you reduce calories below your DCE, it does not take long before your body recognizes the deficit and makes necessary adjustments to your metabolism. The human body is adjustable to any situation or environment. As a rule, the human body likes to stay in a state of equilibrium and naturally combats change as much as it can.
Luckily, you can trick the human body into maintaining its present metabolic rate even if you are on a fat loss program by cycling your calorie intake.
By avoiding extended calorie deficits, you also neutralize the body’s starvation response before it can adjust by lowering the metabolic rate. Reduce your calorie intake for a maximum of 3 consecutive days and then raise it back to your DCE level for 2 days. Repeat the on-off strategy until you achieve your desired body fat percentage.
There are variations to the on-off cycling technique that you can use and modify to fit your taste and your lifestyle.
Using your calculated DCE value as a starting point, develop a high calorie and low calorie menu. Normally, the high calorie menu should be equal to your DCE value and low calorie menu should be 20% lower. However, you can make modifications according to your requirements. Cycle your calorie intake as follows:
Standard Calorie Cycling
Low Calorie Intake
(DCE – 20%) 2800 – 560 = 2240 Calories …….3 Days High
(= DCE) 2800 Calories ……………………………. 1 Day
Make the necessary modifications based on your weekly data until you find the correct numbers that fit your requirements. Using the DCE as a baseline value is a fail safe procedure to prevent the body’s starvation response from taking over.
The calorie cycling strategy is proven effective in overcoming lack of progress, accelerates fat loss while maintaining lean body mass and does not trigger the body’s starvation response mechanism.
Count those Calories!
If you know your approximate daily calorie intake then you already have a solid starting point. However, not everybody is aware of this variable therefore, you have to determine your average daily calorie intake!
Make a list of your breakfast-lunch-dinner food from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. Make sure to include everything; add them all up and you will get a calorie count of your average daily intake!
Although the total amount of your average daily calorie intake may surprise you, do not make radical changes all at once. Radical calorie changes often cause diet relapses because most people can not cope with the diet change. When you have finished your calorie calculations, determine your optimal calorie level.
If your current caloric intake is significantly higher or lower than your optimal calorie level, make the adjustment slowly. An immediate increase or decrease induces fat gain or triggers the starvation response.
If your optimal calorie level is greater than your current calorie intake then make a gradual increase over a period of weeks to allow the body to make the necessary adjustments; if it is the opposite, make the necessary reductions over the same period of time.
It is not necessary to write down the amount of calorie that you eat every day; however, it is vital that you develop an understanding of calorie balance and acquire an estimate of your current daily intake. Do not settle for guesswork, the lack of progress can also be the result of guesstimates!
To be on the safe side, make a list of your calorie intake for at least 30 days in order to have an idea of your actual daily calorie intake.
Success can only be achieved if you do what is necessary, even if it is hard!