Fat Loss Nutrition Part 1: Determining Caloric Needs
Posted Oct 16 2008 7:58pm
If you want (not "wish") to lose body fat, the first thing you must do is etablish your caloric needs....there is no way around this. While counting calories is not "sexy" and has taken a back seat to other secondary (in my opinion) issues such as nutrient composition (ratio of carbohydate to fat to protein), organic vs. non-organic, sugar intake, food selection and nutrient timing, it is still the basis and foundation of fat loss nutrition. If you are consuming more calories than you expend, you will NOT lose body fat.
Establishing your caloric needs for the purpose of losing body fat is not difficult:
1. Multiply your current bodyweight by 12
2. Subtract 10% from this number
Although some will argue the above is oversimplified, I'm yet to come across a person who has not experienced some degree of success CONSISTENTLY applying it. So, a 150 lb. female wanting to lose body fat would need to consume about 1800 calories daily to simply maintain her weight (150x12). If she wants to begin losing body fat at a consistent and healthy rate, she should subtract 10% from her maintenance needs...180 calories...and strive not to exceed this number daily. That's it. Yes, I know this isn't "flashy" or cutting edge, but it will set you on the initial path to losing body fat.
Now, I'm not saying things like nutrient ratios, quality of calories, nutrient timing etc. are not important, and cannot enhance your fat loss, but a major problem I see in people who are striving to lose fat is they obsess over these types of secondary matters before establishing a foundation, and the foundation starts with eating an appropriate overall volume of calories for their goal of fat loss. If you do not do this, the rest of this stuff doesn't matter.
Don't fall prey to the "gurus", fad diets, and commercial weight loss programs out there which claim you do not need to worry about calories...they are misguided and are trying to sell you false hope. Eating for fat loss is hard work. It's really a 2nd job. You have to be willing to go to the grocery store each week so you have nutritous food available to you. You have to be willing to read food labels, measure out portions, use online nutrition databases, etc. Eating "right" doesn't just "happen". Just trying to "eat better" and "make better choices" won't solve your problems...you have to be exact, detailed oriented, and diligent. You have to WANT to lose fat..."wishing" you could lose fat doesn't do a damn thing. Get yourself a digital food scale, a few measuring cups, and some measuring spoons...estimating your portions doesn't work.
So, if you are ready to lose fat, and really WANT to lose fat, start with step one and figure out your fat loss caloric needs (detailed above). Once you do that, and consistently begin adhering to this caloric intake for a few weeks, THEN we can start to take some of the secondary things into consideration: nutrient ratios, nutrient timing, etc.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this fat loss nutrition series where we will discuss the quality of calories and food selection guidelines. Until then, regardless of WHAT you are eating, just make sure you don't exceed your caloric requirements for fat loss. Just get in the habit of reading labels, measuring portions, etc. After doing this for a few weeks, it really becomes second nature, and isn't all that time consuming.