You’ve been trying for weeks to get rid of those last few pounds, but you just can’t seem to shed them. You’ve already cut way back on calories – which might be the reason why the scale isn’t going down. If you want to achieve lasting, healthy weight loss, it’s not just about eating enough, but also about eating right.
Regular meals give you energy
Your body needs sufficient energy to maintain all your body functions, immune system and metabolism. Your body gets this energy from the calories in the food you eat (Note: calories aren’t the only thing that matters!).
If you restrict your calorie intake too much for a long period of time, your body will start to get the energy it needs from other places. This will cause you to feel weak. Daily tasks can prove to be quite strenuous because your body is using all the calories it can get to simply maintain its basic functions. In this situation, you won’t have any energy left for a HIIT workout at home or a long distance run.
How many calories do you need per day?
Your personal calorie requirements depend on your basal metabolic rate and your physical activity level. What is basal metabolic rate? It is the number of calories your body burns at rest during a 24-hour period. You can calculate your personal calorie requirement with the following equations:
Basal metabolic rate (BMR):
Women: 655.1 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
Men: 66.47 + (6.24 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.755 x age in years)
Daily calorie requirement: BMR x PAL (1.2 – 2.4)
The PAL value (PAL stands for “physical activity level”) describes the physical activities a person does within a 24-hour period:
- 1.2: primarily in a sitting and lying position, no recreational activities (e.g. elderly or bedridden people, wheelchair users)
- 1.3 – 1.5: mainly in a sitting position with a little recreational activity (e.g. white-collar workers)
- 1.6 – 1.7: in a sitting position at work with some standing and walking activities (e.g. assembly-line workers, truck drivers)
- 1.8 – 1.9: mostly in a standing and walking position (e.g. retail workers, salespeople, tradespeople, waitstaff)
- 2 – 2.4: hard and strenuous physical activity at work (e.g. professional athletes, construction workers, miners, farmers)
You can calculate your daily caloric intake with the following equation:
Of course, it all depends on your goal: if you want to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. You have to cut a total of 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat. If you want to lose weight in a healthy way, we recommend that you cut between 300 and 500 calories a day, but not more. This way you will lose about one pound per week. The advantage of a slow and healthy approach to losing weight is that it makes it easier to maintain your weight loss and helps you avoid the dreaded yo-yo effect.
Did you know?
You have to cut 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat.
A massive calorie deficit hurts your weight loss
If you restrict calories too much for a long period of time you will be plagued by constant hunger and feel weak, cold and moody. This is usually when people forget about all their good intentions and start to eat more again. And even if you begin to eat within your normal range again, you will still gain weight because your body is now storing the additional calories as fat in fear of another low-calorie period.
In addition, researchers have found that a severe reduction in calories can increase the production of cortisol in the blood. (1) This stress hormone seems to be associated with high abdominal fat deposits and weight gain. (2)
Intuitive Eating Instead of Counting Calories
Have you ever heard of intuitive eating? Intuitive eating means you can eat anything you want, no rules and no forbidden foods. You learn how to be aware of the signs your body sends you when you are hungry or full, so you can stop counting calories and dieting. This way you can reach a healthy weight and feel satisfied. Sounds good, right? Learn about the 10 principles of intuitive eating. It might be just what you need to make peace with food.
If you want to experience healthy weight loss, reduce your calorie intake by about 300 cal, but not much more. Slow weight loss is healthier and will help you reach a weight that feels good and maintain it. Listen to your body and fill up on fresh, unprocessed foods. We also recommend making sure to eat a good balance of the three major macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat). There’s room for everything in a healthy, balanced diet.
You can boost your calorie burn with regular and varied training. Plenty of sleep is also important if you want to lose weight.