How To Lose Weight By Counting Calories


Did you know that an obese person has to burn 175’000 calories or more to get a 6-pack?

(Assuming 250 lbs male)
The person in the example has about 30% body fat to lose so that is 75 lbs of fat. To lose a pound of body fat you have to burn 3500 calories. 75 lbs of fat means you have to burn 262’500 calories (less than you consume) to get a six-pack.  Compare that to the amount of calories you burn while exercising:

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So our 250 lbs male would have to run for 285 hours to lose that amount of fat. OUCH! That’s almost 12 straight days of running…

And despite that discouraging fact I am about to recommend you start tracking how many calories you burn. 285 hours of running is a lot. Losing a lot of weight is still achievable though. I’ll try to get some of that motivation I just destroyed back for you…

If he is consistent and doesn’t give up on his weight loss goal our hypothetical person could lose that weight in a year. All he has to do is burn 720 calories more than he consumes every day for a year. That’s a lot easier to achieve than running for 12 days without stopping. Creating a calorie deficit of 720 calories can be achieved through reducing food intake and adding just 15 minutes of jogging per day. These numbers are very rough estimates that I have come up with. It took me about 15 minutes to figure out and is not meant to actually give the ‘correct answer’.

What I am trying to show with this rather long introduction is that:

  1. Weight Loss is a long-term goal.
  2. You should track your calorie intake.

I am not sure why there is a stigma against counting calories. It doesn’t take a lot of time and it gives you the freedom to eat foods that you enjoy while still reaching your fat-loss goals. That sounds pretty good to me.
It also lets you make informed choices about the foods you want to eat.
For example I like eating ice cream as a snack. If I know that I still have 300 calories left at the end of the day; I can decide to eat some ice cream without worrying about it affecting my fat loss. However if I eat this piece of pizza now; I won’t have any calories left later for ice cream. Calorie counting gives you the opportunity to make an informed decision on what you want to eat.
You can use a free tracking program like MyFitnessPal which lets you enter the food you ate and it will tell you how many calories it had. I like having MyFitnessPal on my phone so that I can make the tracking as easy as possible.


You need to track your calories if you want to lose weight.

I am not telling you to track all your macros or that you need to get a certain amount of protein per day. (Protein becomes important as you get leaner; or if you are already carrying some extra muscle.) Calories are the most important factor deciding if your weight loss will be a success or not. Remember you need to consume fewer calories than you burn. If you track your calories for 1-2 weeks and consistently eat (for example) 2400 calories per day and don’t lose weight; you need to lower your calories. Try lowering your daily intake by 500 calories and see if you have lost weight after week. So that brings us to the question of…

How many calories do you need to eat for fat-loss?

Unfortunately it won’t be the same for everyone. If you are more active, heavier or simply have better genetics in terms of metabolism you can eat more calories while burning fat. However if you have never tracked your calories before, I suggest you try this formula:
Body weight in lbs x 11-13 calories = calories per day for fat loss.
So for a 200 lbs male that would mean: 200 x 13 = 2600 calories / day
However that is only a rough estimate. As stated earlier you will have to try it out and adjust the number if you don’t lose weight after two weeks.
There are some important things to keep in mind when counting calories. First of all you need to keep your activity relatively consistent when trying to find the amount of calories you need to consume. If you start doing more exercise (which you should do, if you are serious about losing weight) that will change the amount of calories you can eat while still burning fat.
Lastly don’t stress out if you eat too many calories in one day. It happens to everyone. Sometimes life gets in the way of your diet and that is absolutely fine. As long as you are doing the right things most of the time you will still reach your weight loss goals.



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