Calories for Every Fitness Goal
Calories…Who, in their right mind, cares about calories? I know I don’t.
Buuut…your body does.
It really, really does. The reason for this is simple – It wants to keep you alive. So thank god, your body cares for calories.
With that said, when you’re trying to transform the way your body looks and feels, it’s important to not only consider the types of foods you’re eating (super important from a health perspective), but also how many calories you’re consuming (super important from an aesthetic perspective).
Therefore, today I’ll be talking about calories. The quality of your food matters, for hormonal purposes, micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, along with other factors such as inflammation, blood sugar regulation, etc, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Today, Calories will be King.
If you’re tying to lose fat or weight, then you need to consume less calories than you burn. As stated in my previous email, other things are important, but Calories are still King.
The problem is your body really, really, really dislikes being a caloric deficit for long periods of time, especially if you drastically reduce your calories without providing it with enough nutrients (specifically certain fats, proteins, and sometimes carbs, along with vitamins and minerals). Therefore, if you want to ensure that you’re not always ravenous on a caloric deficit, make sure you get enough protein, vegetables, and have some carbs and healthy fats in your diet.
Quick Note: ALL Calorie Estimations are ESTIMATIONS – Anyone claiming otherwise is bullshitting you. So with that said, there are a couple of ways that you could estimate how many calories you need in order to maintain your body weight.
Once you have that number, then you would simply reduce it by about 200 to 500 calories per day. Cutting your total caloric intake by more than that, generally, makes it harder for you to maintain the diet, but some people, with wicked determination, can do it (but they are rare and you, me, or anybody should not bet the house against their willpower).
With that all out of the way, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this Calorie Party!
To Lose Fat
1. Figure out your baseline needs of calories.
An easy way would be to take your weight and times it by 12. That should be your caloric intake…for about 70% of you. If that number seems high to you, click here: Calculate Your Calories
Once you’re on the site:
A. Put in your weight, age, height, and your current weight.
B. For the goal weight and time, put in one pound less (for example if you weight 200 pounds, put in 199 pounds) and the goal date of exactly one month (so February 4th).
C. From there, choose sedentary as your activity level even if you work out.
D. That will be a close approximation of how many calories per day your body needs to survive at rest.
E. Using both methods – using your bodyweight x 12 and the online calculator, you should have two numbers which is your range of calories. For me, I’m 190 pounds, so 190 x 12 = 2280 and using the online calculator, that says 2010 calories per day. That would be my range of calories to maintain my current weight: 2010 – 2280 calories per day.
For some people, who are heavier, the bodyweight x 12 may be too high and you might need to drop it to 11 or even 10 calories to get a range more in line with the online calculator (again, this is all an estimation to start).
2. To Lose Fat, once you have your baseline range, subtract 200 to 500 calories per day, to get how many calories you should be having per day. For me, I would drop it about 300 calories per day, from the average of those two numbers. So the average for me would be 2145 – 300 calories to get 1845 calories. To me, this is an abysmally small amount of calories and is why I hate dieting.
3. From there, figure out your protein needs. For most people, 150 grams per day should be a goal, and therefore, 150 x 4 calories (the amount of calories in a gram of protein) equals 600 calories. For me, that would leave me with 1245 calories (1845-600 = 1245). Those remaining 1245 calories are then split between carbs and fat. If I wanted to do an even split of the remaining calories, 622 calories from carbs and 623 calories from fat, that would leave me with 155 grams of carbs (622 divided by 4). There are 4 calories per gram of carb, which is why you divide by 4. And for the fat, I would be left with 69 grams of fat, which is 623 divided by 9 (the amount of calories in a gram of fat).
4. Have I lost you yet? Probably. Math hard = I know. Boring AF! But that’s your baseline calories and macros to start to lose fat. But from there, you then need to be a fucking hawk and count those calories and macros and that’s where the trouble really starts.
5. Portion sizes, grams, ounces, oh my! A food scale, the cheap one on Amazon for like $12 should become your best friend for the next month, if you’re serious about tracking macros and calories. Because if it isn’t, you’re probably bullshitting yourself. Don’t worry, it’s not just you. It’s literally everybody. Here look at this picture that shows we all lie to ourselves when we track calories. People in the study were underreporting their calories by over 1,000 calories per day, while saying they were burning more than 250 calories per day. In other words, they were off by 1,300 calories PER DAY:
What that picture shows is that we GROSSLY (not like gross, gross, but like exaggerate gross), underestimate how many calories we consume and overestimate how many calories we burn.
And if you think that you’re safe because your Apple Watch or FitBit told you you burned X amount of calories, please note that the BEST model studied overestimated calorie burn by 37% (that was the BEST on the market. The worst overestimated by 81%).
And that’s not all.
6. Calories are all an estimation because, we don’t all burn calories the same. Which is messed up, if you think about it. Two people, same height, age, activity level, and weight, can burn a shit-ton of difference in terms of calories per day. The ranges in an over-feeding study were massive. One person can burn an extra 790 calories per day doing the same exact thing as the person next to them. We all know these people and, if you’re not one of them, a little part of you hates them. I get it. But it’s true and that’s called Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis or NEAT. Here’s a picture of that from the same IG account:BDCCarpenter
7. And to throw everything I’ve just said into the mix, calorie counts change depending on a shit-ton of factors. Oh, you ate a rare burger – Good for you, you just saved about 100 calories from that burger. And, oh you ate a well done burger (you animal, you!), you just added a hundred calories to your meal, although you both ate the same amount (in terms of ounces) of food. Or if, you just ate a baked potato with nothing on it, but some salt, well, you just got about 50 more calories than someone ate that same potato, but it was cold. Same food, same amount, different calorie counts = Fucked up, right?
And oh, you think you’re fancy because you ate food and the label said it only has 100 calories. Think again. Calorie counts are averages at best, and that’s if you’re eating the serving size (to the gram), and you have a food calculator and even then, the calories can be grossly under or over-estimated by 25-30% and it’s perfectly fine according to the law. So that “200 calorie snack” that you only have 2 of per day, can actually be 520 calories, not 400.
Which brings me to my final point, just for fat loss or calories: It’s NOT easy to do. But…but, once you’ve done it. Once you’ve mastered it for a bit, and became slightly OCD about it, in terms of how many you’re eating, and how it affects your weight (beyond water weight), and how your body looks and feels, once you’ve done it for a bit, it almost becomes second nature and you start to recognize how certain portions look and how certain foods and combinations of foods make you feel.
In other words, it’s a pain in the ass to get there, but once you’ve gotten there, it’s a useful skill to naturally have (most ex-bodybuilders and figure athletes, or athletes that have tracked their calories and now say, “I don’t count my calories at all,” are telling you the truth, but are also bullshitting, because they have learned a skill and now do it mostly subconsciously).
So yeah, that’s calorie counting for fat loss.
For Muscle Gain
Go back up to step one and find your baseline calories again: Online Calorie Estimator
This time, in the online calculator,
A. Put in Moderate Active, and
B. Instead of decreasing your weight by a pound, increase it by a pound in one month
For your body weight estimation, instead of timing your weight by 12, times it by 15 or 16 and that is how many calories you should be consuming to gain a little muscle.
For me, both come out to about 2850 calories per day – an extra 1000 per day if I’m trying to gain muscle rather than burn fat, and that number can even inch a bit higher of 200 to 300 calories more per day. This is assuming you’re working out 4 to 5 days per week and are getting enough actual sleep to recover.
Go back to the online calculator and find your baseline calories again: Online Calorie Estimator
This time, in the online calculator,
A. Put in Light Activity, and
B. Go back to losing 1 pound in the next 30 days
To get an estimate from your body weight it should be 12 to 13 calories times your body weight. Again, this is assuming you’re working out at least 3 times per week and staying relatively active (about 8,000 to 10,000 steps per day).
For me, at 190 pounds, the online calculator says 2320 calories per day and by timing my weight by 12 it says 2280. So that’s about my range of calories per day to tone. My protein intake, here would be slightly higher than when simply losing fat.
Track the Average Amount of Calories Per Week
THEN…After all that is said, there are a ton of ways to eat. You can do carb or calorie cycling (which we typically do with more calories on the weekends and less during the week) and then there’s Intermittent Fasting or Low-Carb/Keto, or any other BS system out there, but all of them are trying to do one thing: Manipulate how many calories you’re consuming over a week’s time.
And that’s the goal, week-by-week, not day by day, you need to be a caloric deficit if you’re trying to lose weight/fat.
Week by week, you need to be over-consuming calories if you’re trying to gain muscle.
Week by week, you need to be eating at maintenance if your goal is simply to Tone Up.
Now, with all of that information, what are you going to do? If you’re serious about changing the way you look and feel this year, then Creator’s Course is for you.
Creator’s Course is an Online Nutrition and Coaching Program where we focus on 5 Foundational Habits, starting January 14th. The Break Down Goes Something Like This:
You focus on 2 habits, until you’ve hit 80% compliance with those 2 habits. Then you add in a 3rd and/or 4th and so on until you hit 80% compliance with the first 4 habits:A. Sleep 7 to 9 hours per night
B. Workout at least 5 times per week
C. Eat 40 grams of protein per meal
D. Limit alcohol to 4 drinks per weekOnce you’ve hit 80% compliance with all of those habits, then we start working on calories and macros, more specifically macros (protein, carbs, and fats)And your goal during that time is to hit a 90% compliance with your macros, weekly. At that point, you should be able to hit your aesthetic goals. During that time, you will also be learning how to maintain/hit a plateau and stay there for a bit, when to pick it back up, and then if you want to focus on the lifestyle factors of being healthy. You can cancel at any time, but also, you can stay in the program for as long as you’d like.
There are Only 3 Remaining Spots left at $7 per week. The program officially starts on January 14th, but people who sign-up early will get started on the 7th.
Tomorrow: I dive deeper into the workout differences between the 3 main aesthetic goals (losing fat, gaining muscle, and toning up). If you have any questions for me, please feel free to let me know by emailing John@HobokenFitness.com