Whether you are trying to lose weight, or gain weight, one indisputable concept stands true:
Calories are the prime factor in weight loss and weight gain.
There are a lot of gimmicky trainers, fit pros and even PhD’s who will claim there is some secret ingredient you are missing either diet wise or hormonally that is more important than the total amount of calories consumed.
Many of these claims end up as well-known fads such as juice cleanses, the snake diet, and even the ketogenic diet. Now I am probably going to get some negative feedback including keto as part of the aforementioned. I want to be clear that I have nothing against keto, however, the only reason it works is because, when properly adhered to, it induces a caloric deficit.
When it comes to weight gain and weight loss there is nothing more important than total calories in vs. total calories out.
If your goal is to gain weight you need to be in a calorie surplus. To lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit. It is that simple, don’t make it harder than it must be.
The best way to assess how much you should be eating each day is to first figure out your BMR (basal metabolic rate). This is the total number of calories you need each day to maintain your current BW in a resting state.
The Katch-McArdle Formula is an easy way to calculate BMR. Multiply the number you get by an activity multiplier of 1.4 to figure out your true daily calorie maintenance number.
Now that you know your maintenance you have a rough idea of how many calories to consume to reach your goal of either gaining, losing, or maintaining your BW.
Now you are going to ask:
What about my macros? It cant be all about calories right?
Only partially right. Macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and fat. A simple breakdown of the total calorie density each macronutrient contains follows:
- Protein – 1 gram = 4 calories
- Carbohydrates – 1 gram = 4 calories
- Fat – 1 gram = 9 calories
Now you have a rough idea of how macronutrient consumption will play a role in total calorie intake. I am going to include some simple macro breakdowns to follow for specific adaptations
- To maintain BW – Protein 25-30% – Carbohydrates 40-45% – Fat 25-30%
- To gain muscle –Protein 35% – Carbohydrates 40-45% – Fat 20-25%
- To lose fat – Protein 30-35% – Carbohydrates 25-35% – Fat 20-35%
Now that you are armed with accurate information on how to properly gain, lose or maintain your BW you can take the proper next steps to completing your goals. For muscle mass gain a 300-500 calorie surplus will certainly be sufficient. To lose body fat, a deficit of 300-500 calories will equally help you drop those extra pounds.
But please remember this is all general information. Consult a dietician or physician if you have any chronic health conditions or dietary restrictions.