What’s the TRUTH About Calories and Fat Loss?
What’s the truth about calories and fat loss? Isn’t that the general question that has plagued the bodybuilding community over the last few decades? There are so many general answers to that one direct question. Have you found the one right answer yet?
I teach balanced nutrition and training for fat loss, muscle gain and improved health. I am not about extreme low-fat, extreme low-carbohydrates or extreme high-fat. My approach is to feed the body what it needs to fuel the four anabolic windows to produce muscle growth without adding excess body fat.
Many bodybuilders are under the impression that calories must be drastically reduced to drop body fat. While lowering calories for fat loss is true to some degree, many people are going about it the wrong way. The truth about calories and fat loss is more than just cutting calories next to nothing.
Are you familiar with the general formula of “your body weight x 12” to establish your caloric content for a day? That formula will not establish anything except a setup for failure. It is very general and was designed as a quick fix for fast weight loss for those who overweight. You need a little more precision to find your calories for fat loss.
Let’s give that general formula a test drive. Let’s say that you are 130 pounds and 18% body fat.
[Your body weight x 12]
130 x 12 = 1560
That general formula states that you should eat 1560 calories to prompt fat loss.
If you are 130 pounds and 18% body fat, then you have 23 pounds of fat and 107 pounds of muscle mass. With those stats you need a minimum caloric intake of 1070 just for your body to function and survive (heart, lungs, brain, etc); this is not counting activities of daily living. One thousand seventy calories is your RMR (resting metabolic rate), the number of calories for your body to keep you alive. Any physical activity above that needs extra calories for fuel. Your body needs these added calories to live, to survive, to fight off illnesses and diseases, to burn fat, to build muscle, and to aid in recovery.
Calories for Fat Loss
Calories and fat loss go hand-in-hand. You need calories to function and to lose fat. Fat loss plateaus are a result of extreme low calories! Chris Aceto notes, “If you cut calories too drastically, the body tries to hoard energy by slowing down its metabolism, the calorie-burning mechanism in the body.”
So you are 130 pounds, 18% body fat and holding 107 pounds of muscle mass and your RMR is 1070. Let’s say you are very active. You work a physical job of working a daycare chasing kids around all day and workout in the evening doing resistance training and cardio. That requires more calories, obviously. For that physical activity level you may need up to 1070 calories extra just to fuel your body, giving you a total daily caloric intake of 2140. (Attach a 1 at the end of your lean body mass to determine how many more calories are needed.)
[Lean Body Mass + 1]
107 + 1 = 1071 is the additional calories needed to top of your resting metabolic rate
[Resting Metabolic Rate + Additional Calories]
1071 + 1071 = 2141 is Total Number of Calories Needed for a Very Active Person
If you find this figure is too much after a week or two then lower your calories 10% to 1926 and see how your body responds to that. It may take a few weeks of trial-and-error so don’t throw in the towel if you don’t see dramatic results overnight. You did not gain weight overnight so it’s not going to magically melt off overnight.
Remember, calories and fat loss is one in the same. If you cut your calories too low, you’ll end up losing your lean muscle mass, lower your metabolism, and start to hoard fat. Food is not the enemy. You have to eat.