This is a question I get asked numerous times throughout the week in some shape or form. 99% of the time I will respond with a question…
“How many calories are you currently eating? Per day? On weekends? Per weekly average? AND how is it affecting your desired outcome – whether that be fat loss, muscle gain, or something else?”
While there are formulas, basic numbers, and more advanced ways to calculate a caloric goal – most people need to see what they are currently doing before we even think about changing things up.
When I first started working in the industry, I would give out calories numbers, macro goals, etc. like they were the magical solution to all my clients problems. Well guess what? It didn’t really work.
To name a few reasons; people didn’t know how to accurately track (knowledge deficit), people didn’t track everything they ate or drank (compliance deficit), people only tracked one meal or one day per week (commitment deficit)…
It’s not that I don’t have faith in my clients now, but rather that I have found an approach that is a little different yet more realistic AND has proven to be much more successful.
This analogy has been thrown around many times, and I’m not sure who to give credit to.
If you wanted to start saving money for a big purchase (house, car, kids college) you would take a look at your CURRENT finances, right? See what you are currently spending on, saving monthly, and what could be cut from your spending budget and transferred to your saving budget.
So creating a compositional body change should be no different. How can we know what to change, if we don’t know what CAN be changed? This brings us to
Step 1 – Track Your Food for 1 FULL Week
Every single thing that you eat and drink should be written down with as much accuracy as possible. Had a burger? How big? How many slices of cheese? How many extra toppings?
Yes, this is time consuming – but much needed.
And let me fill you in on a little secret; 99% of the time when I tell clients to just write down what they eat for a week – they lose weight.
Step 2 – Lets Look At The Numbers…
So you tracked for an entire week, good. Now, lets looks for patterns and consistency that we can keep – and patterns and consistency that might need to be worked on.
One example could be; you eat 1500 calories Monday through Friday, but then eat 2500 calories on Saturday and Sunday.
From this we can figure out a few things.
First, what is currently happening with your body weight? Crawling up? Going down? or Staying the same?
This will tell us if your daily average is appropriate for your goals.
Step 3 – Calculate your daily average.
1500 calories x 5 days + 2500 calories x 2 days / 7 days = 1785 calories per day on average.
So you are eating 1785 calories on daily average and your weight is going _____.
Good! Now we know that this is (too much, the right amount, not enough) calories for your goal!
Say your weight is slowly crawling up. Lets cut your daily average down to 1600 (185 less per day). This gives you 11,200 calories for the week.
Now, how can we distribute this based on how you feel like eating.
Want to indulge on weekends? Then lets start there.
Saturday – 2000 calories (11,200 – 2000 = 9200)
Sunday – 2000 calories (9200-2000 = 7200)
Monday thru Friday – 7200/5 = 1440 calories per day.
Now follow your new weekly average and see what happens after a week or two.
Why wouldn’t you cut more than 185 calories per day?
Because while everyone wants a quick fix, and to lose weight super fast – it just doesn’t work well. I am a huge advocate of eating as much food as you can, and still reaching your goals.
Anyone can lose weight on a 1000 calorie “detox” tea diet – but does it stay off? Do you feel good about your energy level? Are you just wasting muscle away?
If I can have a female client lose weight on 2200 calories per day (I have), why would I put her on a 1200 calorie cookie cutter diet template? That would be miserable.
So do your budget, see what you are currently doing, only then can we pave the next path to where you want to go.
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Stay healthy my friends,