11 Jan How Many Calories Should Women Be Eating For Fat Loss?
How Many Calories Should Females Be Eating For Fat Loss?
Before I start, I need to say that this isn’t for all women. If you are a woman that;
- Is looking to gain weight, recompose your body or considering prepping for a physique show
- Has a predisposition to lean body percent fat
- Is training at a high level and has done so for many years
- Is or was a high level athlete
Then read no further, well actually do read on, as you may know someone that this article applies to and I would love it if you would pass it on to them.
However, if you are a woman that is;
- Relatively sedentary
- Looking to feel better about yourself and lose some weight
- A busy mum, sister, auntie, of all walks of life who doesn’t have hours upon hours to take yourself off to the gym every day
Then read on and I look forward to your comments.
So, for the majority of women who fall into the latter categories, I hope you find value in this article. It is my hope that it helps eliminate some of the myths and misconceptions that have stopped many women from losing fat and attaining the bodies of their dreams.
The magazines these days are filled with many well-respected, fit and healthy women who tout the message that you need to eat more and to stop starving yourself on crash diets. They say 1200 calorie diets are killing your metabolism and that you are starving yourself.
While these women are coming from a good place, may mean well and do truly want to see the reader feel better and lose weight, I am here to say;
THEY ARE WRONG!
Let me explain.
If you are someone whose Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is 1800 calories, a 1200 calorie diet is not a diet that is starving you, FAR FROM IT!
Context is always important when making any recommendation and I want to go a little deeper to explain what I mean. In order to work out what calorie intake you should be using when trying to lose weight, (this goes for men and women) you need know what your calorie maintenance is.
Calorie Maintenance = The number of calories through food and drink, you need to consume to maintain your weight
There are many factors that affect your calorie maintenance level such as Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), Thermic Effect of Food, (fancy way of saying digestion) Daily Exercise Level and your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). (Just another way I can sound fancy, but basically means the amount of energy used when doing your everyday tasks like walking to the shops or putting down the toilet seat that your husband has left up again after telling him a 1000 times to put it down.)
Seems like an awful lot to factor in, right?
Many websites and coaches use a very basic equation that will take your body weight (in pounds) and multiply it by 14 to determine your calorie maintenance level and then ask you subtract 500 calories from this number to determine your calories needed to lose body fat.
72kg or 160lbs Woman = 160 X 14 (2240cals) – 500 = 1740 calories.
While this makes it very easy to work out, what it doesn’t take into consideration is your lean body mass, which is a far better indicator of calorie maintenance than pure body weight.
I think it is fairly easy to justify that Julie, who is 160lbs and is very lean and competes in body building competitions, would have a vastly different calorie need to Susie who is 160lbs, overweight and sits on the couch all day.
A coach that only takes body weight into account and gives these two women the exact same calorie needs each day, is wrong and in my opinion, just lazy.
In my book, (It is a great read and I really do think you should buy a copy) I discuss a method called the Katch McCardle Equation, which takes into consideration a person’s Lean Body Mass (LBM) when determining their Base Metabolic Rate (BMR).
The equation looks like this;
BMR = 370 + (9.82 X LBM)
Let’s look at the two women I talked about before and how different their BMRs would be based on this method.
Susie (160lbs and 40% body fat)
- (1-.40) X 160 = 96lbs LBM
- 370 + (9.82 X 96) = 1312 BMR
Julie (160lbs and 15% body fat)
- (1-.40) X 160 = 136lbs LBM
- 370 + (9.82 X 136) = 1705 BMR
We can now see that the BMR of the 2 women differs by almost 400 calories. If we were to then factor in their activity levels to find out their TDEE it would show that the difference in their calorie needs would be even greater.
By this example, you can see that Susie has a BMR of 1312 calories. If we had used the more simple equation of body weight multiplied by 14, she would be told to consume far more calories than she needs.
If Susie had also started a new strength-training program at the same time she began eating these calories, she would find the scales going up. This isn’t a bad thing as I believe gaining lean muscle and becoming stronger is a great thing for everyone, especially women, however her goal was to lose weight, not gain weight.
So, you can see from the above example that getting your body percent fat right and determining your LBM, to allow you to calculate your calories correctly, is vital to success on any weight loss program. This can be very difficult as most of us underestimate our body percent fat as it can be hard to admit that we are 40, 45, 50% fat.
There are other methods to be more precise, such as a DEXA scan, skin fold calipers, bioelectrical impedance and hydrostatic weighing stations. However, methods like DEXA and Hydrostatic Weighing can be expensive and not always available, while Skin Calipers and Bio Impedance can have large margins of error based on a variety of factors.
I feel that visual guides (like the one below) are the best option when first starting out. However, when starting out, be sure you are in a positive frame of mind to allow you to be super honest with yourself and realise what body percent fat you actually are.
Now that you have worked out your TDEE and subtracted 500 to 600 calories from this number to put yourself into a calorie deficit, it is time to do the work and begin your journey.
Now It’s Your Turn!
- No excuses that you don’t have time,
- Don’t say you will start next week, start today,
- No more watching entire seasons of Game of Thrones and not going to the gym
- No more cheeky snacks when no one is around and then blaming your so called “slow metabolism” on the reason you aren’t losing weight
- Understand that the scale will show ups and downs along the journey due to water retention, alcohol, carbs, salt, the time of the month and the time of the day and that’s ok.
- Most of all, stop listening to other people’s opinions that you are starving yourself, because you’re not (presuming you are using the equation mentioned above).
- And definitely stop reading magazine articles that are telling you to eat more to look like the goddess on the front cover.
That final point brings me back to my original point where the fitness guru in the magazine or more appropriately in a 2017 world, #fitpro on IG suggests that a 1200 calorie diet is starving you and that you ladies should be eating more to boost your metabolism. It is just WRONG.
While she sits on that front cover with her genetically perfect ass and promises you that eating 2000 calories a day will have you look like her, sells the magazine or her affiliated branded protein bar, it does nothing for Susie, who’s goal is to lose body fat and should be eating around 1300 calories to do so.
Calories In and Calories Out matters, and while there are certainly other factors that will contribute to your overall result, you can not get away from this simple fact.
If you want to lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit. PERIOD.
I empathise with the smaller female that has low lean muscle mass and high body percent fat and needs to be eating a 1200 calorie diet in order to lose body fat because it’s hard. However, if fat loss is your goal and you want to see results that will have you progressing week in and week out then I’m sorry to say, TOUGH!
If you have struggled in the past and need a little extra help or you are one of these female #fitpro IG accounts and wish to bash me with your comments and tell me just how wrong you think I am, please feel free to contact me anytime on my personal email. (email@example.com)
For the former, I will be happy to calculate your calorie needs and give you some advice on what you should do, free of charge. Time to act and time to live a happier, healthier and longer life.
If you know someone that could benefit from reading this article I would be so humbled if you could pass it on or share the link on your facebook.
Have a wonderful day!