Calories-Where Do I Start?
If the goal is fat loss, then we know we must be in a calorie deficit, energy out most be greater than energy in. If you are not in a calorie deficit then you will not lose fat.
Plenty of factors help achieve a calorie deficit; exercise, NEAT, stress, sleep, energy levels etc. but a good place to start alongside of these is finding out how many calories you should be consuming on a daily and weekly basis.
Finding that magic number is easy but for most people sustaining that number is difficult, fat loss is challenging, it takes time, consistency and discipline.
There are plenty of formulas available online to help you calculate and give you a estimation of where you should start, but I prefer another method.
Instead of using a formula, find out exactly how many calories you are consuming now. Not just on a daily basis but on a weekly basis too. You may find your calorie intake is far higher on weekends, that’s okay, we can allow for this when week day calories are lower.
Use MyFitnessPal to track your calories, but you must track everything! Yes drinks too, milk also, oils and sauces. The only items you don’t need to track are diet drinks and water.
Find out how many calories you are having right now, have you been putting on weight recently? If yes, then aim to have 200 fewer calories per day per/1,400 calories per week. Stick at these calories for 2-3 weeks, have you made progress? If not you’re still not in a deficit, reduce calories or increase activity and repeat until fat loss occurs. You will need to track your calories for a prolonged period, it takes discipline but our actions must match our goals.
Take pictures, take waist measurements at week one, use these to judge progress as time passes. But also judge progress by how your clothes fit and most importantly how you actually feel!
Here are 5 tips to help you get in a deficit:
Fill your plate up with vegetables, food volume will be higher and calories are low from vegetables. It means meals will take longer to eat and it will increase satiety.
Aim to have a protein source with every meal. This will also help with satiety as well as improve recovery time and maintain muscle mass.
Prepare your lunch at home. A meal prepared at home is likely to be half the calories of a meal purchased in a canteen or a deli, an easy way to reduce your overall calories! Cook once, eat twice!
Do not totally restrict yourself. If you like a bar of chocolate that’s okay, but have 3 a week instead of 7, have 1 take away instead of 2, have 1 night out every 2-3 weeks instead of every week. This is a more sustainable lifestyle rather than cutting everything out!
Exercise more than you are now. If you don’t exercise at all don’t go from doing nothing to training 7 days a week. Exercising once a week is better than not exercising at all. Similar to decreasing calories slowly, increase exercise slowly for a more sustainable approach.