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Podcast 004: Exactly How Many Calories You Should Be Eating (No Calculator Required)
I’ve received a lot of great feedback about the TheoFit Podcast and the brand new TheoFit website that you can access at Theo.Fit. But I’ve been receiving one very common question from a lot of people, and it’s this: “I know you say to eat a 20% calorie deficit, but what exactly is that, and how do I know how many calories to eat?”
And, while I do explain it in the CORE SERIES at theo.fit/core, in the article “How To Count Your Calories,” a lot of people just don’t have time to visit the site and go to the calculator and figure out the math for their bodies. And you know what? I realize now that that’s not the ideal method to help people implement this fitness program. And it was really helpful for me to learn that.
So, in this podcast, I’m going to very briefly explain how many calories you should be eating for your weight. You won’t need to use a calculator or anything else — I’m going to tell you exactly how many calories to eat, and briefly, how I reached that conclusion for you specifically. So, pay attention, because I’m going to be going through a variety of bodyweight and activity levels that will include you, but you’ll need to pay attention to make sure you recognize yourself in the explanations I give.
1. How I Calculate Your Calorie Deficit
So, I’m basically about to explain to you the math that you won’t have to do after this podcast. I figure out your calorie deficit by calculating 2 numbers. First, I figure out a number called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) — that’s the number of calories your body would burn if it were in a coma. That is, the amount of calories it takes for your body to run without any activity — just pump your heart, etc. I figure out your BMR using a calculator that takes into account your age, weight, height, and body fat percentage.
Then, I multiply your BMR by a number called an “activity multiplier” that takes into account how physically strenuous your job is, how many hours per week you work out, etc. The result of that equation gives me a number called your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), which is the amount of energy measured in calories it takes for for your body to sustain itself and do all its activities throughout the day — everything from working out to digesting food.
So, if your goal is fat loss, you need to aim for at least a 20% calorie deficit — 25% if you can stand it — which means that you eat 25% fewer calories than your TDEE. In other words, you eat 25% fewer calories than your body needs in total for the day. For example, if your TDEE is 2,000 calories (and I’ll tell you what it is in a second), then a 25% deficit is 1,500 calories. That means you’re in a 25% calorie deficit, because you’re eating 25% fewer calories than your body needs to perform the activities you’re performing.
So, where does your body get that extra 500 calories? From your fat. And a pound of fat is 3,500 calories. The more calories you can force your body to take from your fat every day, the faster you’ll lose fat. There is no other way to burn fat. Every single instance of fat loss in human history comes from being in a caloric deficit. By counting calories, you’re essentially managing that fat loss in a way that will give you a calculated guarantee that eventually, you will lose a certain amount of fat at a certain rate.
Any other method, or anything less, puts your fat loss in the hands of guesswork.Can you lose fat without counting calories? Yes, of course. But any method for fat loss other than hitting a calorie deficit is imprecise and indirect. The only question you have to answer for yourself is: How much of your own time do you want to waste getting in shape?
2. The Amount Of Calories You Should Be Eating
In this section, I’m going to go through a list of weights and, if you fall in this weight class, how many calories you should be eating if you’re compliant with the TheoFit diet. Now, I’m going to put this chart on the shownotes for this podcast, which you can read at http://theo.fit/podcast/004 (or you can click the link in the show notes in your Podcast app). But I’m going to read it aloud here so that you can walk away from this podcast with the exact number of calories you need to be eating for the day. Okay, are you ready? So the number I tell you is the number of calories you need to eat in a day in order to achieve a 20-25% deficit. If you want to know your BMR or TDEE or all the math behind these numbers, you can visit the CORE SERIES at theo.fit/core and read the article “How To Count Your Calories.” But if you don’t have time for that, just listen for your number. And remember — this calorie deficit assumes you’re doing the TheoFit workout or something like it (including weight lifting, abs, and cardio) 4-5 times per week. Okay, here we go:
3. How To Count Your Calories
Download the MyPlate app (or the MyFitnessPal app). Counting calories is never fun. It always sucks. It’s one of those new habits that every single person hates. Even people who have been doing it for a long time really hate it. And eventually, after you’ve been counting calories for 6-8 months, you’ll be able to eyeball most things and enter all your calories at the end of the day, rather than at the beginning of every meal.
But if you’re new to this, you need to enter everything you eat — from the sauces you use to cook to the dressing on your salad to — into your calorie counting app. It’s one of those disciplines you just have to grit through. It sucks to face reality. It doesn’t feel good to have to realize you’ve been eating 3,000 calories a day and now your goal is 1,500 or 2,000 calories a day and you have to get creative with what you eat in order to hit your calorie goal without going insane.
It doesn’t feel good. But remember: A calorie deficit isn’t forever. You hit for for 3 or 4 months, or until you hit your desired fat loss, and then you can eat your maintenance. You can eat your full TDEE. And the beauty of knowing your TDEE and continuing to work out is that you can maintain your fitness level, continue to get stronger and healthier, without eating less than your body needs.
The purpose of hitting a calorie deficit isn’t to be hungry forever. It’s to hit your desired body fat level so that you can later eat the exact number of calories your body needs while staying in shape, which is entirely sustainable.
So download that app right now. That’s the hardest step. Download MyPlate or MyFitnessPal. Start fooling around on it. And whatever your calorie deficit was, hit it for the next 3 or 4 months. Or if you need to lose more fat, hit it for the next 6 months. After the first month, counting calories will become second-nature.
It’s starting that’s the hard part. So don’t let something petty like a dislike of calorie counting get in your way of hitting your goal. Don’t let your unwillingness to do this simple thing sabotage all the hours you put into the gym and all the willpower you put into eating healthy food. Count your calories, hit your deficit, and you’re guaranteed results — guaranteed.