What is the right daily calorie intake to lose weight in a short period of time? In fact, the ideal caloric intake to lose weight is different for everyone. I’ll share with you how I found my optimum caloric intake for weight loss.
The entire mechanism is simply a game of calories – a game of mathematics. And the rule of the game is,
- To lose weight, your calorie intake must be less than the calories expended (calorie deficit).
- To gain weight, your calorie intake must be more than the calories expended (calorie surplus).
You Must Burn More Calorie Than Your Daily Caloric Intake To Lose Weight!
To create a calorie deficit, you must first know your “total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)”. TDEE means how much energy you use up or burn per day. TDEE is also known as the “maintenance level”, suggesting you the daily calorie that you should consume to fuel the energy you use every day.
In order to lose weight, you must consume less calories than you burn. This situation is what we term as “calorie deficit”.
There are a number of ways to calculate TDEE. The one that I practice multiplies “Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)” with an “Activity Factor”.
BMR is the number of calories your body burns to maintain your normal bodily functions such as digestion, respiration, cell regeneration, etc. Similar to TDEE, there are many schools of calculating BMR. Let me suggest one that, in my opinion, works the best.
Katch-McArdle Formula To Determine BMR Based On Lean Body Weight
BMR = 370 + (21.6 x lean mass in kg)
Let’s consider this example:
Your body weight is 176 lbs (80kg). Your body fat percentage is 18%.
[Read the next section to learn how to determine your body fat percentage]
With 18% body fat, your lean mass would be 82% (100% – 18%) of your total body weight. In kg terms, your lean mass should be 65.6kg (80kg x 82%).
Solving the equation above,
BMR = 370 + (21.6 x 65.6) = 1,786.96 calories
This means that in order to maintain the bodily functions of your body, you’ll use up 1,786.96 calories a day.
How Do You Determine Your Body Fat Percentage?
You can determine your body fat percentage using the “skin-fold method”. It is inexpensive, practical, and produces almost the same results as those costly methods that produce laser accurate readings. Honestly, you don’t need laser accurate readings to get you started. You only need a number to track your progress with!
Here’s the caliper I use to measure my body fat percentage – Accu-Measure Fitness 3000. I’ve got mine from its manufacturer at $19.99 last year, but now you can get it for as low as $5.65 from the link above.
Calculating TDEE By Multiplying BMR With Activity Factor
These factors will help determine your TDEE:
- Sedentary = 1.200
- Lightly active = 1.375
- Moderately Active = 1.550
- Very Active = 1.725
- Extremely Active = 1.900
Extending from the example above assuming that you are lightly active, the calculation for your TDEE would be:
TDEE = BMR x Activity Factor = 1,786.96 x 1.375 = 2,457.07 calories
This means, your body that weighs 176 lbs with the body fat percentage of 18% and is lightly active burns 2,457.07 calories a day.
What Is The Exact Amount Of Daily Calorie Intake To Lose Weight?
The general rule of thumb would be to consume 500 to 1,000 calories lower than your TDEE if you are to lose weight. You should consume less than you use to create a deficit. However, I DO NOT RECOMMEND this route of reducing your calorie intake for weight loss.
Imagine you are a woman with TDEE of 1,900 calories. If you reduce 500 calories from this tally, it means you are consuming only 1,400 calories daily. This is very low!
Losing weight (or perhaps, body fat) is not about merely cutting down calories. While it’s important to cut down calories, what’s even more important is the nutritional values of your diet is not compromised as a result of your calorie reduction efforts.
You might get yourself into some serious nutritional problems if you plunge yourself into such drastic reduction of calorie intakes without proper planning and consultations.
A safer way is to reduce your calorie intake approximately 10% – 20% of your TDEE. Taking the instance above, consuming 10% less calories means consuming 190 (1,900 x 10%) calories lower than your TDEE. In absolute count, it means consuming 1,710 (1,900 – 190) calories a day, which is still considered “alright”.
There are 4 steps that you need to go through to determine your optimum daily calorie intake for your body if you want to lose weight effectively, and healthily:
Step 1 — Determine your body fat percentage.
[Recommended — Use Accu-Measure Fitness 3000.]
Step 2 — Calculate your BMR using the Katch-McArdle formula.
[BMR = 370 + (21.6 x lean mass in kg)]
Step 3 — Calculate your TDEE.
[TDEE = BMR x Activity Factor]
Step 4 — Reduce your calorie intake by 10% – 20% of your TDEE.
[Recommended — 15% works best for me. Give it a try!]
Now, do you have a better idea of how to tailor make the right daily calorie intake to lose weight for your body?