When I started on my weight loss journey I was like everyone that was new to this. I had no clue. I put my numbers into MyFitnessPal and was on my way.
These numbers weren’t “wrong” but they weren’t right for me either. I had set my goal to lose 1.5 pounds a week, a number that I never ever hit on my journey. I averaged one a week. I had a net goal of 1300 calories which meant I was eating in the range of 1600 to 1900 a day depending on my exercise.
I was hungry constantly.
The hungrier I got, the more I began to think that this wasn’t how it was supposed to be. So I started researching.
Knowledge is power, and I researched any diet plan or weight loss method I could find. I wanted to find the way that would work for me. The overwhelming results from that research was that you didn’t have to starve yourself to lose weight.
Wait, what!?!?! You don’t have to be hungry all the time. Mind blown!
BMR and TDEE
Basically to lose weight there are two numbers you need to know, your BMR and TDEE. All the rest can be considered fluff (In my opinion at least).
So let’s start with BMR.
What is it? Well Wikipedia says it is: “Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the minimal rate of energy expenditure per unit time by warm-blooded animals at rest.” In plain English that means that it is the number of calories you burn each day if you did absolutely nothing.
So why is this number important? Well basically it’s the minimum amount of food you need to be eating, you should aim never to eat below that number.
There are a number of ways to calculate your BMR, and there are a plethora of calculators online. One of my favorites is from Fat2Fit Radio and can be found here http://www.fat2fittools.com/tools/
So next is TDEE.
Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is the amount of calories your body needs to function in a day. This sounds very close to BMR but with one subtle difference. TDEE takes into account the activities you perform in a day while BMR does not. BMR only calculates what you need to eat if you stayed in bed all day.
Typically you get to your TDEE by placing yourself into different activity categories. The more exercise you do, the higher your TDEE.
What it comes down to is the TDEE is how many calories you need to eat in a day to maintain your current weight.
How does this help you lose weight?
If you want to lose weight, all you do is eat less than your TDEE. Generally this should be a 15-20% reduction. But keep in mind that this should also be more than your BMR. Essentially you want to be eating between these two numbers.
Let’s run my calculations.
I am 5’7 and 144 lbs. From the Fat2Fit tools my BMR is 1442 calories, and my TDEE is 2487 because I am very active.
If I wanted to lose weight, I would take 15% off of 2487. That is a reduction of 373 calories for a daily intake of 2114 calories. That’s not too shabby, and certainly won’t leave me hungry.
I realize that it sounds complicated at first, but once you have it figured out, it makes weight loss so much easier.
As you lose weight or change your activity level your BMR and TDEE will also change, so it is important to recalculate every so often to keep on track.