I’m Really Sorry About Your Calories

When I wrote this article last week, I gave you some “No B.S.” information to help you sift through some of the nonsense around how and what to eat.

While there was some information in there about how to gain weight (for the select folks who need to do so) most of the information was provided to help someone who just wanted to lose some fat without driving themselves crazy with the 50,000 diet variations out there.

There was one thing I forgot tell you in that post.

I owe you an apology.

Not because I did anything wrong but because I know what you were probably thinking once you crunched your numbers and saw what you had to do to lose weight.

You see, there’s a collective feeling that the amount of calories you need to eat to lose weight simply isn’t a lot.

This affects both men and women but ESPECIALLY women.

Part of that is due to size.

If we line a span of men and women side by side (all weight loss participants) there’s a decent chance that the men will weigh more. A larger body typically requires more energy to make it function.

But guys have another advantage. They usually have more muscle mass.

Let me give you two comparable (not exact) examples to highlight.

I currently have a male client in his 50s who weighs 257. Due to height, level of daily activity, age, and ratio of muscle to fat mass, he has maintenance calories of approximately 2800 per day. If we make a 20% reduction to his maintenance in efforts to get his weight loss started, that puts him at roughly 2200 calories per day. Of his 257 pounds, approximately 177 pounds is lean muscle mass and 80 pounds is fat mass.

By comparison, I have a female client also in her 50s who weighs 257. Due to height, level of daily activity, age, and ratio of muscle to fat mass, she has maintenance calories of approximately 2000 calories per day. If we make the same 20% reduction to her maintenance in efforts to get her weight loss started, that puts her at roughly 1600 calories per day. Of her 257 pounds, approximately 130 pounds is lean muscle mass and 127 pounds is fat mass.

What I tend to see a lot of are women who weigh sub-200 pounds in starting weight on their weight loss journey, with significantly less muscle mass than the client referenced above. As a result, their maintenance calories could be anywhere between 1600-1800. When you make a 20% reduction from those numbers, you end up somewhere to the tune of 1280-1440 calories per day.

It just isn’t a lot to work with.

And believe me, I am really sorry about that.

But that is your relative truth.

Imagine for a moment that you have a job you are locked into for life. There is little hope of quitting that job and the ceiling for a greater salary is relatively low. That’s kind of what your calorie goal is like.

You have one body to live in and the only way you get to eat “more” is to essentially “do more.” But that, in itself, is much harder in practice than it is in thought.

So, using “more cardio” as your fallback for eating more doesn’t work as efficiently as any of us might hope. If it did, every gym in the world would be equipped with cardio equipment alone and all of us trainers would be figuratively chaining you to that equipment until you burned every unwanted ounce of fat right off.

But that’s not what you see.

You see gyms with cardio equipment, free weights, machines, etc.

And they all have a purpose.

If I could put you in my perfect little bubble where no outside influence (stress, sickness, anxiety, or depression) could affect you, I’d have you control your calories to stay within your respective goal.

I’d have you lift weights 2-3x per week in efforts to get stronger (not bigger, unless that’s what you want.)

And I’d have you do cardio (not too much) for better heart health and to burn “a few extra” calories.

Please don’t hear what I’m not saying.

If you LOVE cardio, you should do as much of it as you enjoy. It’s just not the most effective way to burn fat.

As your body adjusts to the stimulus of cardio, what you once could do to burn, say, 300 calories, now takes effort that is longer, faster, or offers more resistance.

Not everyone wants to take their body to that place.

What you find is that the same 300 calorie burn within a set amount of time now only gets you 220 calories or maybe less.

Which is why what you put (or don’t put) in your mouth counts so much more.

And that problem right there is what sets off so much resentment in dieters.

So, I say this as lovingly and kindly as I can: I don’t like how little you have to eat to reach your goals. That number is different for everyone but NO ONE likes that number.

And I repeat, I am very sorry about that.

As the adage goes: I don’t make the rules.

If you can, treat your diet journey, your fat loss journey as an experiment in yourself. It’s where you learn your limitations, your discipline and where your body and mind fight back.

It’s not intended to be comfortable. It’s intended to get you your desired results.

And it’s intended to be a relatively short-term experiment.

For some, short-term is a matter of months and for some it’s a matter of years.

And if you’re someone like the 50-something year old clients I referenced above, that could be 5% of the life you’ve spent on this earth so far.

I think you’re worth it.

I want you to think so too.

Below is a recent picture of my boys (Sebastian on my right and Jackson on my left.) Neither of whom has needed to talk to me about their calories yet because it doesn’t have much effect on them. Their old man doesn’t have it so easy. 😉

“We Make Great People Greater”