Why count calories consumed and how to do it?

Calorie counting is important not only for weight loss. Counting calories is necessary if you are working on your body and want to maintain or build muscle. On an intuitive diet – of course, you can live. But changing for the better is difficult.

Once you read a fitness blog, then once you definitely tried to count calories consumed. And maybe even consumable. From experience, I’ll say that they start to count almost everything, and many drops out. But those who did not give up achieve especially good results in building their body.

Let’s start by defining calorie intake. There are three ways: 

1. The Mifflin-San Georu Formula

  • Female formula: 10 × weight + 6.25 × height – 5 × age – 161
  • Male formula: 10 × weight + 6.25 × height – 5 × age + 5 

2. Harris-Benedict formula 

  • Female formula: 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height) – (4.330 x age)
  • Male formula: 88.362 + (13.397 x weight) + (4.799 x height) – (5.677 x age)

In both formulas it is necessary to substitute age in full years, height in centimeters, weight in kg. The results obtained must be multiplied by the coefficient of your physical activity:

  • 1,2 – minimal (sedentary lifestyle, sedentary work);
  • 1,375 – low (light physical activity 1-3 times a week);
  • 1.55 – medium (training, active walks, physical work 4-5 times a week);
  • 1.725 – high (training 6-7 days a week);
  • 1.9 – very high (several workouts per day, typical for athletes before the competition).

Depending on your goals, you can change your daily calorie value. For example, if you want to lose weight, lower the resulting value by 100-500 kcal. And to gain muscle mass, the daily calorie intake, on the contrary, needs to be increased (and training strengthened).

3. Weekly calories

There will be no complicated formula for the third method, but your responsible approach will be required. Because you have to diligently do this:

Sum up ALL calories consumed during the week!

At the same time, without overeating or limiting oneself in nutrition, but taking food to satiety. In general, there is no need to arrange an accounting week while on vacation or celebrating the New Year holidays 😄

When the week ends, divide the amount by 7 days. So you get the average daily number of calories , which led you to your current weight. What to do with this value?

  • For weight loss, it is enough to reduce the number of calories consumed by 5-10%
  • To gain mass – increase the number of calories and adjust the BJU nutrition so that you get more protein

Important: we summarized on the scale of a whole week, so the daily rate will be indicative. If one day you eat a little more calories, and the other less – this is normal. The main thing is to fulfill weekly goals.

And which of the three methods is better? I think that still an option with a weekly total of calories. And that’s why:

  • A weekly amount of calories gives you an idea of ​​your real current condition. By the first pair of formulas you can find out the target calorie content (how much should be consumed ideally), but these will be numbers without taking into account the individual characteristics of your body
  • For a week you will carefully monitor the diet. You are not on a diet (i.e. you do not have any prohibitions yet), but you are already tracking calorie content. And this is a good “warm-up” before a diet

How to continue to count calories even after the end of the control week?

  1. Keep a food diary (not necessarily on paper, it is also possible in the application on the smartphone). Then you will need records to find out exactly how you get extra calories
  2. Get a kitchen scale if you regularly eat at home and eat portionwise (which is desirable). Weigh products before cooking.
  3. Plan your sample menu for tomorrow in advance
  4. Reassure yourself that scrupulous counting is not forever. The first month will require serious self-discipline, because you need to develop a habit, and then it will be easier (for example, because you remember the calories in dishes and foods that you eat regularly)

Remember that to lose weight, as well as to maintain muscle mass, you need to know two parameters: how many calories we spend and how much we eat. Here is such a simple arithmetic.


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