Caloric Requirements For Fat loss, Staying Lean, And Exercise/
Training: Go here in
this article to learn about fat loss
on banner above for a free online diet and daily activity
tracker. Track your calories, vitamins, minerals, and daily
Estimate: Body weight in pounds X 10 = minimum
calories per day required for zero activity. Add 500 calories
for minimal daily activity (not exercise). Add another 300
calories for 1 hour of easy to moderate exercise. Athletes
and intensive exercisers need more. Eg. Weight 170lb. 170
x 10 = 1700. 1700 + 500 = 2200 calories. 2200 calories are
needed for a day with no exercise and minimal activity, 2500
calories are needed for a day with about one hour of exercise
in this example using a 170 lb person. A 170 lb person working
out every day could need up to 3000 to 3500 calories per day.
This is based on a non-overweight person. If overweight, reduce
your total calories from this formula by 10% and start from
there. These are estimates, not absolutes.
Popular Quick Estimate: 30 to 40 calories per kilogram
of body mass per day. (13 to 18 calories per pound). The lower
number is more suited for less daily activity and fat loss;
the higher number for including about 1 hour of daily exercise
and maintaining weight. These are estimates, not absolutes.
more detailed estimate, but still an estimate:
depicts athletic or very active person
1.2 -2g per kg body weight
- 1.0g/ day sedentary.
- 1.7g/ day building muscle mass through weight training
and or daily aerobic exercise.
1.8 - 2.0g/ day athletic conditioning- extensive aerobic
endurance or mass building. (Click
here: Article on the myth of extra protein to gain muscle)
Carbs 3 - 5 g per pound
exercise 2g per pound.
one hour per day 6-7 g per kilo/ 3g per pound.
Two hours per day 8-9 g per kilo/ 4g per pound.
Three hours per day 10-11g per kilo/ 5g per pound.
Fat 1g per kilo/ .5g per pound (.1g less when on a fat
the ratio of daily food intake should be (reflected in above
60 - 65% for active/ very active people. 55% For inactive
20 - 30%: Females require a little more fat in their diet
than males. Youth up to about age 18 require a little more
fat in their diet than adults. 30% is still the maximum
for all populations though.
15 - 20% Extremely active persons involved in sports
require a little more protein than inactive people. Specifically
those training to increase muscle mass or those involved
in extensive endurance sports like marathon and triathlon.
Long distance runners require as much or more protein than
are estimates, not absolutes.
most accurate method for determining basic caloric needs:
Contact a university exercise physiology department and inquire
about a resting metabolic rate test. The test involves remaining
seated for 10 to 15 minutes with a hose in your mouth into
which you breath freely. The hose is connected to a machine
called a metabolic cart. It measures the difference between
oxygen breathed in and oxygen and carbon dioxide breathed
out. This measurement combined with a few others allows the
technician to provide the most accurate estimate of how many
calories you need in one day.
are calories, and why do calories matter?
calorie is a unit of heat energy. It is the amount of energy
required to heat 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius at sea level.
A Kcalorie (kilocalorie) is the amount of energy required
to heat 1 kilogram of water 1 degree Celsius at sea level.
Kcalorie is the unit we use for food energy, but often the
"K" is removed, as is done for the remainder of
this article and throughout this web site. This unit of heat
energy is used to measure energy consumed (food in) and expenditure
(physical activity) in humans because heat is the primary
byproduct of metabolism. Our cells are constantly busy using
energy (measured in calories), which gives us our body heat.
We get even warmer when we exercise. Scientists measure this
heat in calories to determine energy expenditure.
When we eat too much we store the extra calories as fat.
since a calorie is a unit of heat energy, and we don't really
store extra heat per se, the fat we store has potential
energy which is only measured as calories when it is later
used for energy. We store actual fat, but we refer to it in
terms of it's energy potential expressed in calories. One
pound of stored body fat has an energy potential of 3500 calories,
so we can say "one pound of fat" or, "3500
calories of fat"; they are both ways of describing the
same amount of fat. The dual-description of calories and mass
also applies to carbohydrates and protein.
too much and not exercising enough is the leading cause of
obesity. To lose fat we need to burn off more calories, or
energy than we eat. The actual energy compound used
by muscles is ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is made from
fats and carbohydrates through complex chemical pathways.
fuel for your muscles is ATP
cannot be used alone to make ATP, carbohydrates are required
in the process.
can be made into ATP without fat.
can only be made into ATP aerobically. (Anaerobic activities
like sprinting and lifting weights do not use fat as a fuel
can be made into ATP aerobically (with oxygen) or anaerobically
(without oxygen, with increased muscle acidity being a major
5 to 10% of our fuel comes from protein,
this ratio remains constant and as such is typically not mentioned.
The one exception to protein as a fuel source is starvation
or consuming too few carbohydrates. In this case lean muscle
tissue is broken down and used as fuel. This is a survival
mechanism, the same survival mechanism that many fad
diets promote using to drop weight. However the "weight"
in this case is your muscle, water, and some from fat, the
muscle and water loss being unhealthy.
Value for Substrates:
calories per gram
4.1 calories per gram
calories per gram
calories per gram
the astute reader you'll notice that if you multiply the 9.3
calories per gram in fat by 454 to obtain calories per pound
(454 grams = 1 lb) you will get 4222. That's right, a pound
of fat has about 4222 calories, NOT 3500. So why do we always
read about 1 pound of fat having 3500 calories? Surprisingly
many dietitians, doctors, and trainers are dumbfounded by
answer is there is a difference between dietary fat (fat that
we eat) and adipose
tissue (the tissue where fat is stored in our bodies).
A pound of human adipose tissue contains substances other
than fat such as connective tissue, water, and protein, which
makes up about 15% of the fat mass.
pound of dietary fat is supposed to contain around 4086 calories.
I say around because although there is a common reference
to 9 calories per gram of fat, this is the rounded down reference,
we can also find references of 9.25 calories per gram of dairy
fat and 9.5 calories per gram of animal meat fat.
the USDA food database reference 454 g (1 lb) of butter has
not even butter, which most would assume is the perfect example
of "pure fat", is not pure fat, it contains water
and a small amount of protein. According to this reference,
454 grams of butter has 368.24 grams of fat. 368.24 X 9 =
3314.16, which is not the 3255 calories listed above, nor
3500 calories, nor the 4086 number we got before.
we really find a food calorie reference that matches at least
one standard reference? leave it to me find out what few others
have the curiosity to find out!
you have it. One pound of pure lard has 4086 calories.
really what we learn here is that there is a range of references
for the caloric value of fats whether in dietary form or stored
as body fat. The differences are in which formula value is
used, and how much "other" stuff (water, protein)
there is in the kind of fat you are measuring.
That's probably why the common reference is pared down so
much - it's easier to think about when we only have two references,
the dietary fat reference of around 9 calories per gram, and
stored fat reference of around 3500 calories per pound.
pound of dietary fat contains around 3300 to 4222 calories,
according to variability of references I have found. If one
pound of human fat tissue has 3500 calories then one gram
of energy release from stored fat will be about 7.7 calories
(3500/ 454 = 7.7). One gram of carbohydrate, stored in the
body as glycogen, has a potential of about 4.1 calories. Caloric
values in food depict the stored energy potential in food.
Caloric values in exercise measure the actual heat produced
by muscles as fats and carbohydrates are burned yielding energy.
Potential energy not utilized by the body is stored in a long-term
storage form, being fat. Extra
protein and carbohydrates consumed but not used are converted
to fat for storage. Extra fat is already fat and requires
minimal changes before being stored.
need body fat to live, but too much leads to serious health
problems like diabetes, stroke, heart disease and can even
body fat is really excess stored energy and the only way to
get rid of the excess is to expend energy beyond what we eat
in one day. If you eat 2000 calories in one day, to lose body
fat your daily activity must burn off those 2000 calories,
plus a little extra. If you eat 2000 calories and expend 2500,
some of the extra 500 calories will come from your excess
stored body fat. Repeat this daily or on most days and that
will translate into pounds of fat loss every month. Don't
get too excited about the math being perfect; studies show
that genetic differences between people cause slightly different
rates of fat loss with the same caloric deficit. That being
said, once the right deficit is found every person will lose
above graph shows average daily fat loss with a 500 calorie
per day deficit (2000 calories in 2500 out). We also gain
and lose weight daily through hydration/ dehydration, eating,
and elimination which can add up to an average fluctuation
in weight from morning to night of 2 to 4 pounds. This makes
it impossible to practically measure fat loss day to day since
daily fat loss is only about 0.2 lb. - You may be losing fat,
but in such a small amount each day it doesn't show up on
the scale: wait for it though - those small daily losses add
up after a week. Don't interpret daily weight fluctuations
as and indication to your success or failure in losing fat.
for weekly trends and long term trends over many months. Be
careful with interpreting "failure", as we can be
our own worst enemy by judging our selves negatively and suffering
emotionally as a result. If you don't lose weight, be objective;
simply adjust your food intake and physical activity to compensate.
This example of a 500 calorie per day deficit is for illustration
purposes - each individual needs to find the caloric deficit
that produces a result. Typically the deficit required for
fat loss is between 300 and 500 calories per day, but could
be around 800 calories for some. If you lose more than 2 pounds
per week you are likely losing muscle and water as well. Safe
fat loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week. Don't get bent out of
shape thinking that you have to be perfect every day. While
it's true you need consistency for success, losing fat means
changing your old habits. Make your mistakes, but get over
them. Keep at it and you will succeed.
Fat loss really is this simple, but those selling fads make
it sound complicated so they can sell you their special cure.
order to reduce your fat "reserves", you need to
burn off more calories than you take in.
Eat less, exercise more.
Intensity or low intensity exercise; Which burns more fat?
doesn't really matter if fat loss is the goal; so long as
you burn off more calories than you consume you will lose
fat. Note that going too hard will cause injury and burn out,
and going too easy may not be enough to stimulate change.
Start easy, increase as you adapt. Go
here to learn about lactate testing and finding the right
intensity to exercise. Go
here to learn how standard heart rate formulas don't work.
being said, here is some technical information on fat burning;
It takes 75% more oxygen to burn one gram of fat than it does
one gram of carbohydrate. This is why it's necessary to be
in a very "aerobic" state to burn fat during exercise
(we also burn fat during other non-exercise activities, sitting,
and sleeping). When unfit there is not enough plumbing (capillary
density, arterial diameter, oxidative capacity, mitochondria)
to facilitate fat burning during more intensive exercise.
When we're aerobically unfit, we tap into our "anaerobic"
energy system early to make up for our underdeveloped aerobic
means an unfit person lacks the physical development to burn
fat as effectively as a fit person. Unfit persons need to
increase fat burning potential through low intensity exercise.
As a person becomes more fit they are able to accommodate
fat burning at higher intensities via greater ability to deliver
oxygen to muscle, and for muscle to use fat as a fuel. A
fit person can burn up to 50% more fat at any given aerobic
intensity than an unfit person.
intensity anaerobic exercise for short periods still contributes
to calories burned by using carbohydrates. Calories burned
in exercise for fat loss can be from fat or carbohydrates
or both - it doesn't matter - so long as you burn more calories
than you consume. However, for the physically unfit high intensity
exercise can promote injury and result in short term gains
that are soon limited by plateaus. High intensity exercise
is potent, but should be used sparingly and only when properly
conditioned to tolerate the high loads associated with intensive
exercise. Lower intensity exercise can be tolerated better
on a day to day basis so over all there is generally a greater
potential to burn more calories with regular moderate exercise
sessions rather than less frequent intensive sessions.
in fact there is no real argument for which is better for
burning fat; high or low intensity aerobic exercise. It's
both. Low intensity is the preferred method to build the ability
to use oxygen, to develop aerobic fitness. Gradually and incrementally,
greater intensities can be sustained during exercise. Finally,
high intensity aerobic exercise can be done once the base
is built, then it is very easy to burn loads of calories while
exercising at moderate to high intensities. While this process
takes about one year, about a 10 to 20% gain in over all fitness
will made within the first 12 to 16 weeks. When a person is
ready to exercise hard, no more than 20% of their exercise
time should be intensive, unless they are athletic, even then
high intensity still makes up the minority of training. While
all this is scientifically interesting, it has misled many
into believing that to reduce body fat one must exercise in
the "fat burning zone". This isn't entirely true..
loss begins immediately when caloric expenditure is greater
than caloric consumption.
Fat loss can occur without any exercise at all so long as
energy from food intake is less than the energy the body uses
throughout the day. Recent research has shown The combination
of eating less and adding daily exercise does not net a better
result in fat loss than diet or exercise alone. Exercise has
other health benefits as well, so while exercise may be used
for fat loss it also increases the efficiency of the heart,
lungs, circulatory system, and a long list of other benefits.
ratio of consumption to expenditure needed to lose fat is
individually determined. If a "clinically perfect"
diet and exercise regimen is followed it is expected a person
can lose up to 2 pounds of fat in one week. However a 2 pound
per week loss is flirting with nutritional disaster as the
1000 calorie per day deficit required may limit vital nutrient
intake. More realistic healthy fat loss is about 1 to 2 pounds
every couple of weeks, while Expecting transient weight loss
with some temporary weight gain, but with a long term downwards
trend. Typically those with poor nutrition will be dehydrated.
Therefore within the first two weeks of eating more fruits
and vegetables as well as drinking more water, a weight gain
due to hydration of about 5 to 7 pounds may be expected. This
is healthy, it is not fat gain.
Loss: Use the information at the top of this page
to estimate your caloric needs. Subtract 10% of the calories
from that number. See if you lose fat by measuring your weight
and waist girth (both should go down gradually) If not, adjust
your mix of food in and exercise out. Dropping below 2000
calories per day is unhealthy for most active males, and below
1500 calories per day may be unhealthy for active females.
Cutting by more than 300 - 500 calories below your calculated
daily requirement at one time may be too dramatic for many
people. Hold your eating/ exercise pattern for a week or two
before making changes. You need this much time to make a reasonable
Simple Summary for Fat Loss/Gain:
We gain fat by eating too much; there is virtually no other
way to become overweight.
We lose fat by eating less and exercising more.
We can not burn off more than 1 or 2 pounds of fat in one
week. If your weight drops by more than 2 pounds in one
week, you are most likely losing water and muscle as well.
The easiest way to implement food changes that will help
you lose fat is to reduce your portion sizes of the foods
you eat now. Do not be misled by fad diets! Try these
- Leave a little food on your plate or take smaller servings.
- Do not go back for seconds.
- Eat desserts less often.
- Gradually add more healthy food choices.
of which you need to be aware:
of a genetic variance between individuals, one person may
require less or more of a dietary change, or exercise, than
another to achieve a similar result. You can't copy another
person's actions exactly and expect the same result. That
being said the same principal is applied to each person; find
the correct mix of calories in and calories out that produces
a measurable result.
there is a better result for fat loss by eating several small
meals per day rather than two or three large meals. However,
the main determining factor is still the total amount of calories
less on the days that you have less activity. This is critical.
you always feel like you have little energy, it may be from
not consuming enough food, or not eating frequently enough.
It may also be from an Iron deficiency or another deficiency.
In the case of any chronic state of constant fatigue, you
should consult your physician.
if you don't feel any lack of energy and then decrease your
caloric intake, and then begin feeling like you have less
energy (compared to before you decreased your calories), you
have decreased your calories too much.
here to download free software for finding the caloric and
nutrient content of foods. This will take you to a USDA
web page with piles of helpful nutrition resources.
here for a nutrition calculator. This will take you to
the bblex web site (Germany) Estimate the total calories you
need in a day. Broken down to grams of carbs, protein, fat,
and amounts of vitamins and minerals. Also considers total
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