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How to calculate calories for weight loss

5 min read

Faced with the problem of excess weight, people often do not find simple and reasonable ways to get rid of it, sitting on ineffective exhausting diets or suffering from overstrain in the gym. But there is a way that guarantees the loss of excess kilos – consume less than you spend. In this case, the energy deficit will get from body fat. But how to calculate calories for weight loss, not harm the body and stay in the active rhythm of life? You can find out more about this and other weight loss recommendations in this article.

What is calorie, and how to calculate the energy intensity of a dish

Any product has its own nutritional potential, and, entering the recipe, he brings it with him. The unit of measurement of energy potential is calorie, but since this is a very small value, the abbreviation kcal, which means kilocalorie, is usually used in the scientific literature and tables of KBZhU. Initially, the concept was used to indicate the amount of heat released by a combustible substance (coal, fuel oil, gasoline), and in the 20th century it began to apply to food, helping to count calories for weight loss.

The number of absorbed energy units is not always equal to assimilated. For example, protein is used by the body only 40-50% of the eaten mass. But to accurately calculate such indicators is no longer possible. Therefore, you should always understand that the energy potential of the dish is arbitrary, and you should not try to bring its grammar to the exact value.

In order to calculate how many calories are in a product, the content of proteins, fats and carbohydrates is first determined. The value is multiplied by the already known energy intensity of nutrients:

proteins – 1 g = 4.1 kcal;
fats – 1 g = 8.8 kcal;
carbohydrates – 1 g = 4 kcal.

For ease of calculation, values ​​are allowed to be rounded. Knowing this information, you can have at least a rough understanding of the energy intensity of a product or dish and conduct a superficial calculation of calories for weight loss. On the back of the finished product, this information is available, as in most restaurant menus. For home use, it is worth getting weights.

calorie counting

Calorie intake rate and how to determine it

The most difficult thing in losing kilograms by reducing the amount of energy consumed is precisely in determining how much it is necessary for the normal functioning of the body. Otherwise, he will go into a mode of food shortage, and the brain will launch a hormonal program for the accumulation of fat, and not what was originally planned – a gradual disposal of excesses.

The determination of the boundaries of the daily norm is influenced by gender, the initial body weight of a person and his age. The average daily rate for an adult woman is 2000, for males – 2300-2500 kcal. Those involved in sports should add 300-400 kcal, preferably in the form of proteins. These are figures that allow you to keep weight unchanged. People who want to get rid of extra pounds should lower them.

To find out to what extent indicators should be reduced, you can use the Harris-Benedict formula. It will help to find out how many calories you need to lose per day for weight loss, and how many to leave:

for a female: 9.99 * weight (in kilograms) + 6.25 * height (in cm) – 4.92 * age – 161;
for the male: 9.99 * weight (in kilograms) + 6.25 * height (in cm) – 4.92 * age + 5.

The result obtained is a personal baseline metabolic rate. Then it should be multiplied by the coefficient of daily activity, selecting it from the list:

1.2 – minimum (no or minimum physical loads);
1,375 – small (light loads are added);
1.46 – average (frequent trainings and good activity);
1.55 – above average (intensive regular physical activity);
1.64 – increased (daily lessons);
1.72 – high (high daily activity and activities once a day);
1.9 – very high (for professional athletes in preparation for the competition).

The final result is the amount of energy typically spent per day by a specific organism. To find out the daily calorie intake for weight loss, you should reduce it by 15-20%, and with significant excess weight – up to 40%.

However, the final figure should not fall below 1500 kcal, otherwise the body will undergo severe stress and after short-term weight loss will begin to accumulate body fat.

What will help in counting

The first thing a person who wants to say goodbye to extra centimeters should get is a kitchen scale, since without them it is impossible to accurately calculate the energy value of products. To facilitate the process, it is wise to use a special program for smartphones – a calorie calculator for weight loss. One of the most famous with a lot of positive reviews is MyFitnessPal. He and others like him are capable of:

calculate the individual norm of kcal per day;
provide KBZhU products and dishes;
control porcession using a food diary;

Some programs even have a built-in function to read the product name by its barcode. How much this facilitates the calculation is a moot point, since the KBJU must be indicated on the packages.

A calorie counter for weight loss is a great way to self-control. Many of them still provide recommendations throughout the whole process of losing weight on how much to drink water, exercise and sleep.

counts his calories

Summary and advice of nutritionists


Measure your indicators and calculate the maximum kcal allowed per day to start getting rid of extra pounds. This can be done independently according to the formula or use special programs.
When preparing for a meal, weigh products / dishes and find out their calorie content. Stick to your chosen norm.
Keep a diary of nutrition and weighing.

Recommendations of nutritionists:

It is better to make a diet the next day in advance, immediately calculating its energy value. Such training will help to stay in the right framework.
Of the meals, breakfast should be the most nutritious and rich in complex carbohydrates, the easiest and most protein meal is dinner.
Sitting on a restrictive diet, one should not forget about vitamins and minerals, if there is no way to include them in the diet without harm to the figure, then it is worth buying supplements.
The number of calories per day for weight loss should not be immediately reduced sharply to the selected indicator, otherwise there is a chance of introducing the body into stress or quickly abandon the method. It is better to do this for one week. But to abuse the specified advice, stretching the process for a month, does not make sense.

Adhering to the above tips and recommendations, you will not have problems when calculating calories for weight loss and the fight against excess weight.


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