One of the most asked questions and misunderstood topics is how we work out our calories and our macros(carbs, fat and protein).
Now first things first, this is FAR from an all encompassing guide. My main aim is to give you a relatively simple method to start with as the fitness industry is full of BS that makes it far more complex than needs to be.
Step 1- Energy Balance.
The diagram above shows how we burn calories on a daily basis. As you can see the vast majority is due to our BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) in essence this is how many calories we'd burn just by being alive and no more.
This is affected by weight, age, muscle mass, hormones and more.
Here is a calculator to use(this is never an exact science but can give you a useful starting point)- https://www.omnicalculator.com/health/bmr-harris-benedict-equation
The 'NEAT' is Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis- In plain English the calories we burn day to day doing non deliberate activity.
Think things like walking, cleaning, moving around and working(job dependent).
'TEF' Is Thermic affect of food. This is the calories we burn in the process of eating and digesting food.
'EAT' Is Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This is calories burned through exercise.
So a tiny proportion of the calories we burn directly are through exercise? Yes that is correct. However before you go cancelling gym memberships and put me out of business read on...
The bulk of the calories burned daily is due to our BMR. This is DRAMATICALLY improved by having increased muscle mass. Hence why strength training is important alongside cardio even if weight loss is the goal.
All of the above will give us a number of calories we burn per day.
In simple terms:
Eat below this number- Lose weight.
Eat this number- Stay the same weight.
Eat more than this number- Gain weight.
Simple but not easy. Food is obviously much more than just a number, we have to factor in psychology, hormones and much more in the process.
Macronutrients are carbs, fat and protein.
If weight loss is the goal IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW YOU SPLIT YOUR CARBS AND FAT. Yep that's right it isn't actually important. Protein is the most important macro to get right.
*Of course I don't recommend eating no carbs or fat, a balanced split is optimal however from a solely scientific point of view the split doesn't matter for weight loss.
In terms of protein I encourage you to aim to eat between 1.5-2g/kg of BW. If I am 75kg this would be 115-150g per day.
This is where the magic happens...
Simply work out how to hit that protein target, for example:
4x Eggs- 24g protein.
Greek Yogurt- 30g protein.
Shake- 25g protein.
Aldi protein pudding- 20g protein
Chicken breasts- 40g protein.
There we have it, between 140 and 150g protein. This also equates to roughly 950 calories (this is very rudimentary calculations don't treat this as gospel).
So my calorie target to lose weight would be around 1900. I simply subtract my protein from my calories:
I can use this 950 between carbs and fat how I want. For example I may have butter, toast and avocado with my breakfast and pesto pasta with chicken for an optimal split.
However on some days I may feel like I want a pastry and some sweets so I have minimal fat.
This allows you to have a little flex within what you eat and means you can be adaptable.
An example of this would be if I had steak instead of chicken for dinner. It would be the same protein but probably 150 calories more. This just means I'd have 150 less to split between carbs and fat.