If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re probably aware that your diet will greatly affect the amount of weight that you are going to lose.
Weight loss is a consequence of a simple equation:
Calories IN < Calories OUT
“Calories in” is determined through the foods that you consume, while the “calories out” is affected by a number of mechanisms, including exercise, daily activity, meal frequency, your metabolism, hormones, sleep etc.
So the focus of this article is how to determine the optimal calorie intake for weight loss, which is the left side of this equation. Obviously, the smaller your calorie intake, the greater the potential calorie deficit, which will likely lead to greater weight loss. You do however have to be careful that your calorie deficit isn’t too great, or else you risk unnecessary muscle loss, excessive fatigue and evenserious health complications.
There are a number of calculators available on the internet to determine the optimal number of calories to lose weight. However, these calculators have been developed based on the “average” person with “common” goals. Because you are an individual, with unique goals, lifestyle habits, eating preferences etc, you will have to determine a unique approach to your diet. These calculators can be used as an initial guide – but determining your optimal calorie intake for you requires much more consideration.
So where to start? Your personal trainer, dietician or nutritionist would be able to provide with a starting point based on a thorough assessment. If however you are planning to do this on your own, a calculator based on a well respected research paper may be a good starting point for your total calorie intake. Be careful – there are many calculators out there and not all of them have any credible scientific backing to justify their results. We strongly suggest that you undertake the guidance of a trained professional to advise you as to the types and quantities of food groups that constitute that total calorie intake.
You then need to put this dietary plan into practice. This is best accomplished under the guidance of a fitness professional. If however you are doing this on your own, you need to assess your body on a regular basis (weekly is a good frequency), to ascertain whether or not you are losing weight following this particular dietary approach.
If you are losing an appropriate amount of weight, then the caloric intake from that dietary plan is helping to create a calorie deficit within your lifestyle. If you are not losing weight, then chances are that you are not placing your body in a great enough deficit – so some revision may be required.
This approach is known as an empirical approach within the scientific community, where you assess the effectiveness based on results. Because your body varies so greatly due to your own individual characteristics, there is no single calculator or text book that can guarantee you an effective, healthy and safe caloric intake resulting in weight loss. You need to begin with an appropriate starting point, assess and adjust based on your weight loss results.
Though it has been mentioned a number of times throughout this article, it is worth stressing once again; if you are unfamiliar with nutrition and are unsure with the functions and importance of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients within your body, you should consult with a professional to obtain guidance. While weight loss can be accomplished through a calorie deficit alone, you also have your health to consider – and it certainly is possible to lose weight through an unhealthy dietary approach.