Understanding macros & nutrition
Part 2

Understanding How To Track and Calculate your Calories

healthy fat with oils avocado nuts

Hopefully, you read the first part, so you will now understand what calories and macros are, and the importance of them for achieving differing fitness goals. So, in this part, I will explain the applied side of things, I will explain how you can calculate and track your calories for your specific health goal, so you can feel and look great. 

Maths (Yep, here the secret, not cutting carb or a juice cleanse…sorry) 

The first thing to calculate is your calories, and this will be different from every person and for each different goal. You need to know your own individual maintenance calories, as everything is worked out from this number, from adding muscle to losing fat. So here are the steps you need to take to calculate your maintenance calories.

How to calculate your maintenance calorie ?

First, what we mean by maintenance calorie is the amount of calories we can consume without losing/gaining weight. There are two key pieces of information you need first to calculate your maintenance calories : your weight in kg and your body fat in %.  If you can’t work out your body fat, there are a number of online calculators, but be warned that it will not be as precise as the method shown below. I recommend TDDE Personally (https://tdeecalculator.net/). There are a number of ways to calculate your body fat with calipers, electronic scales, the naval method. So, let’s go through an example together : 

  • Step 1 : Work how much of you is fat

So, for example, we have David here. David is 100kg weight and 20% BF (Body Fat).  Simply multiple 100 * 0.2 = 20kg. This means that 20kg of David is fat.

  • Step 2 : Work out your Lean body mass

This is how much of you is not fat :  muscle, bones, organs, and water. Take your total fat away from your weight so for David : 100-20=80kg. This is David’s lean body mass.

  • Step 3 : Work out your Basal metabolic rate (BMR)

BMR is simply how much your body need to function and stay alive (to keep the light on!). If you sat in a chair and did nothing all day, this is your Basal Metabolic Rate. Use the Katch-Mcardle Formula to calculate your BMR

                  BMR = (21.6*lean body mass)+370=2098.  So David’s Basel metabolic rate is 2098 kcalories

  • Step 4 : Input your Daily Energy Expenditure (DEE)

Now we need to calculate this daily energy expenditure for David total maintenance kcals.  This is the total of calories used per day. Simply multiply 2098 by what you think your activity level is on the scale below. I recommended starting at 1.5.

So 2098 * 1.5= 3147.   3147 is this David Maintenance kcals. Ok, now we know David’s maintenance calories. Depending on his goals, here’s what you do :

calorie table

Bulking / Adding Muscle

To add muscle, you need to be in a calorie surplus. I recommend a lean bulk. This is when you only add the minimum number of calories in an attempt to mitigate fat gain. Now, you will put some fat on, though, that’s the cost, but keeping the calories to  a minimum  means when it’s time to shred those few pounds, it will a lot easier and take a lot less of time and effort. 

Ideal Bulk = Maintenance  kcals +(300 to 400 kcal). Bulk over 12 weeks period, then go back to you maintenance.

Aim to put on no more than 0,5kg a week, anything more then that, lower your kcals by 100-150. Furthermore, starting from a good body fat% say between 10-14% is ideal, so if you’re sitting at 15-20%, think about shredding a few pounds before bulking up. It will make your life a lot easier in the long run.

Cut / Losing Fat

Here’s what you first need to understand about your calories needs for fat loss.  A larger deficit is not always better. When you are in a calorie deficit, yes, you will lose fat, but also muscle, which is not good!  If your calorie deficit is too high, then you will lose more muscle. This will make your BMR go down which means it will take an even larger deficit to lose weight. So you should always aim for a low to moderate deficit over a longer time period. Sorry no crash dieting, this will screw you up long term. The rule is,  not going below your BMR. Here is a trick if you want to eat more and still be in a deficit : walk more, hit your step 10,000-15,000 a day, or exercise more often.

Ideal Cut = 30% to 40% deficit, but never go below your BMR. Cut over 12 weeks period, then go back to your maintenance.

How to track

Now you got those target numbers, how do you track? Well, thankfully it’s 2019 and the technology is there to be taken advantage of. I always recommend an app called my fitness pal.You can scan the barcode of the food you’re eating and boom, calories tracked!!! If it’s fresh food, without a barcode, you can weigh the food then search it on the app, easy. In a nutshell,this is the single easiest and best way to track your calories.  I recommend a practice week when first using this app, where you don’t try to hit any specific goals. Simply get the grips with the app and see how many calories you are currently eating. Besides, you can also save meals and recipes, which makes it’s easy if you often eat the same things. However, a word of warning, if you plan to eat out it makes it harder to track what you’re eating.  So what I recommend, when eating out, is a least try to guess, use the search function to at least take a stab at it. Or plan ahead, look at the menu and pick something you think is low in calories. 

In part 3, I  will explain how to calculate your macros and explain micronutrients.

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