Calories are a confusing thing for most people. Bodybuilders have it down to a tea with their ‘obsession’. But, it really is so straight forward!
People find it confusing because they think they need to know everything about how calories work and how it affects their bodies. In actual fact, there is an awful lot of nonsense regarding calories (please take that with a theoretical pinch of salt); so who can blame you for being confused?
My goal today is to inform people on how easy it is to calculate; and in fact, miscalculate calories – as I have been doing for over 2 years!
Let’s get started, shall we?
What is a calorie
A Kilocalorie (or Calorie as we all know it) is the measurement of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 litre of water by 1-degree Celcius. How is that relevant to our bodies you might ask? Scientists use this figure because it is relevant to the amount of energy our body uses.
In relation to weight; 1lb of fat is the equivalent of somewhere between 3,000 and 3,500 kcal (calories remember). Most people say it is 3,500 calories per 1lb of fat so let’s stick with that (to maximise on weight loss or gain) for the sake of this article.
My favourite way to count calories is with myfitnesspal – It’s not the prettiest of websites but I find the data on the site more accurate and it has some kind of affiliation with UnderArmour, so I know it can be trusted. Also, there is an app in which you can scan the barcodes of food you are eating which really does help!
You can use other platforms, its all in your preference; just make sure the information you get back is reliable!
It’s important to remember to track EVERYTHING. If you don’t track absolutely everything, sometimes you slip into the habit of skipping larger ‘snacks’ or meals, which can be largely detrimental to your weight loss or weight gain goals.
In relation to weight loss (and I’ve done this myself), it is important to make sure you account every simple last thing such as your brews (cup o’ tea – for those that aren’t British) and the sugar you have in them. Did you know, one cup of tea with one heaped teaspoon of sugar accounts for 60 calories! Multiply that by the 4 brews you have in a day and you’ve exceeded your calorie goal by 240 calories. Now add all the chewing gum and the olive oil used for your fry up earlier, and boom – you’ve knocked that goal straight out of the park!
Let’s say, for arguments sake you’ve set yourself a caloric deficit of 500 per day (3,500 per week – 1lb per week) but, you’ve miscalculated every single day by around 350 calories because of your brews and olive oil. Instead of burning an extra 3,500 calories, you’ve only burned 1,050 calories. That’s not even 1/3 of a lb, so instead of losing 4lb a month, you’ll be losing 1lb a month.
How many calories should you consume?
The National Guidelines (United Kingdom) state that the average male should consume 2,500 calories per day and the average female should consume 2,000. Now remember, if you’re trying to lose weight you should be at least 500 calories below this target every single day. However, this is an extremely vague calculation and is aimed more towards active people with active careers that require you to move about a lot on a daily basis. This is not aimed at sedentary people that work in offices and should be accounted for. I would recommend using a BMR and TDEE calculator to try and find out how many calories are needed for your unique needs. You could even use the Goal section of myfitnesspal to set a caloric goal.
So remember, if you’re trying to lose or gain weight, it is important to track absolutely everything!