Reverse Dieting & How many Calories do you actually need?

I’m doing this blog post, NOT to put attention of calories, because I’m very much against counting calories and very pro counting nutrition in your foods! But almost 90% of my nutrition clients are not eating enough calories and are gaining weight because of it. Eating lots of nutritious foods will have you feeling energetic and amazing and I want everyone to experience the feeling of actually eating enough! Being hungry is no fun at all.

So take this little calculation:

Men: BMR=66.47+ (13.75 x W in kg) + (5.0 x H) – (6.75 x Age in years)
Women: BMR=665.09 + (9.56 x Weight in kg) + (1.84 x Height in CM) – (4.67 x Age in years)

Here is mine as an example!
665.09 + (608) + (301) – 121.42
= 1453 calories per day.

This is the absolute bare minimum you need if you laid in bed all day and didn’t even blink an eye! This just keeps your body and organs functioning. This doesn’t include any other daily activities or workouts.

Take that number and multiply it by the following to see how many you actually need to support your daily activities.

BMR x 1.2 for low intensity activities and leisure activities (primarily sedentary)

BMR x 1.375 for light exercise (leisurely walking for 30-50 minutes 3-4 days/week, golfing, house chores)

BMR x 1.55 for moderate exercise 3-5 days per week (60-70% MHR for 30-60 minutes/session)

BMR x 1.725 for active individuals (exercising 6-7 days/week at moderate to high intensity (70-85% MHR) for 45-60 minutes/session)

BMR x 1.9 for the extremely active individuals (engaged in heavy/intense exercise like heavy manual labor, heavy lifting, endurance athletes, and competitive team sports athletes 6-7 days/week for 90 + minutes/session)

Since I work out and teach 6-7 days a week and also walk a lot, I use 1.725 (which actually correlates perfectly to how much my fitbit tells me I burn (if you do where a fitbit- and wear in consistently all the time *this is important* then try checking your average calorie burn over the month or week. This is your basic metabolic rate and what you would mostly likely need for maintenance).
I get:
1453 x 1.725 = 2506 calories!! Most people are shocked at the number of calories they actually need.

If you are stuck in a plateau, feeling tired or hungry- try slowly building up to this number (adding 100 calories a week in the form of carbs and fat, keeping your protein stable) and THEN after eating at this number for a month; you could try to subtract 300-500 from this number for weight loss. Getting your metabolism up and functioning properly is the first step to feeling amazing!! It can be very helpful to actually INCREASE calories when you want to lose weight. Don’t panic if you gain a few lbs at first, this is nothing to be afraid of (it’s water weight: ie muscle glycogen). You’ll then be able to eat MORE and lose weight once you eat at your maintenance for awhile. (I would try even a month if you can). I try to do this with a lot of my nutrition clients in order for them to see results. Less calories is 90% of the time, not the answer. I hardly ever lower my clients calories and they all see results!

Have you ever heard of reverse dieting? This is a method that many fitness competitors use to maximize their metabolic capacity (ie: eat more, stay the same weight) and allow their body to recover and gain muscle after a fitness competition. They slowly increase their calories each week- allowing it to adapt each time to the caloric increase- and can usually manage to eat double or more what they were eating pre-show with barely any weight gain. Anyone can use this method and I’ve used in on some clients who were in a very low caloric deficit with great results.
Here is a great article to check out that explains it a little more eloquently, but still in simple terms:

http://www.coachcalorie.com/reverse-dieting/

Its sounds a lot more fun to lose weight at the same rate on 1800-2,000 calories a day rather than 1200 doesn’t it? Starvation and deprivation is NEVER the answer. There is a better way.

So- how many calories do you need to be eating? Try entering what you eat today in a calorie counting app like myfitnesspal and see how many you are currently eating. Are you eating enough? PLEASE ensure that you are not putting your body in deprivation mode because that is a sure-fire way to get stuck in a plateau and never see results again.

Tara

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