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Fitness & Health

22nd May 2019

Work out how many calories you need to lose weight in four easy steps

It seems like a simple question, but there's a lot more to it. To work out how many calories you need to lose weight, consider these four steps

Alex Roberts

It seems like a simple question, but there’s actually a lot more to it

To work out how many calories you need to eat to lose weight, you need to put a four-step plan in place.

JOE spoke to Emily Servante, personal trainer at Ultimate Performance London City. Servante says the four key steps that dictate how many calories you need are:

  • Your resting metabolic rate (RMR): calories burned at rest
  • The thermic effect of food (TEF): calories burned digesting foods
  • Exercise activity thermogenesis (EAT): calories burned through exercise
  • Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): all calories burned in daily activities other than exercise, e.g. walking and cleaning etc.

Weight loss is best achieved when you take matters slow and steady, Servante says.

“As a general rule, to lose one pound of body fat per week, you need to run a caloric deficit of 500 calories per day – or 3,500 calories over the course of a week.

“To enable consistency and long-term results, you should keep calories as high as possible so that you retain your hard-earned muscle and perform well, therefore giving you energy to train and generally stay active.”

Cutting back on cals

Cutting huge swathes of calories out of your diet from the outset will only lead to a crash.

When it comes to working out how much food you need, Servante says you should only concentrate on yourself.

“We all come in a variety of shapes and sizes so there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ calorie target to lose weight.”

Instead, calorie targets should be figured out based on your own individual data.

“Ideally, we would want to calculate your calorie requirements based on your lean body mass (LBM) – everything in your body that’s not fat (muscle, organs and other tissue).

“The aim is not to fuel excessively and retain fat. A good starting point is 12 calories per pound of lean body mass, with around 1.2 – 1.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight. The remainder should be split between carbs and fats, according to your preference.”

You can work out your lean body mass with callipers, electrical impedence tests at your gym or with a smart scales at home. Eufy make a very good scales, which also feedback on your water retention and body fat percentage.

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