Balancing Calories For A Successful Body Composition Change
For most individuals, goal wise, there is an emphasis on body composition above all else. Sure, if I can add a little to my bench while adding size or the definition in my abs, I’ll take it. However, there is a gap that exist for us. That gap can vary time to time throughout the training cycle, and sometimes we feel like we are at a wits end on how to effectively obtain the optimal results we picture mentally. What seems so difficult for most of us is actually lacking a consistent practice of calorie balance and even more support with...calorie balance. That’s not a typo. Your multiple visits to your fitness center every week are certainly important, and absolutely what you eat plays some importance to the end result. But, the focus on caloric intake plays the biggest role in determining the success of a body composition change.
Let’s dedicate some text to defining what a calorie is. A calorie the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water (Merriam-Webster).
Aside from identifying the caloric amount per serving on the nutritional label, a calorie is a unit of heat used to measure energy specifically. The amount of calories we consume on a daily and weekly basis dictates the rate that we lose or gain weight, and energy for everyday activities. Whether you are a competitive athlete, or working on general fitness, you need calories. Calories are good, and they are essential for you to live a productive life.
What is calorie balance?
Calorie balance is on the basis of net calories. Net calories derive from the amount of calories consumed and combined with the expenditure from daily activity or exercise. 3500 net calories, plus or minus, is the number to remember here when it comes to balance. When we have a net surplus of 3500 calories, we result in a weight gain of one pound. When we have a net deficit of 3500 calories, we obtain weight loss of one pound. Consider numbers that are lower or higher than 3500 as a rate. As that number increases or decreases, so does the rate or weight loss or gain. If you are an individual who is looking to lose body fat, it is suggested that you stay below a recommended calorie goal. If you are looking to gain weight or add muscle, add calories to your regimen that give the opportunity for a caloric surplus. Your caloric goals should be recommended and guided by a professional to ensure the healthiest route in a body composition change.
2. Determining how many calories you need
You can easily go onto the internet and search for a BMR (Basil Metabolic Rate) calculator to find an initial number of calories needed to maintain your current body weight. From there, you will need to understand the activity factors that associate with your caloric intake. This means that you will need to adjust your intake based off the amount of activity you perform daily. You simply multiply your maintaining number by the activity factor Here are the activity factors as a reference:
-1.2; Sedentary; little or no exercise
-1.375; light activity; light exercise 1-3 times per week
-1.55; Moderately active; moderate exercise 3-5 days per week
-1.725; Very active; hard exercise 6-7 days per week
-1.9; Extremely Hard; Hard, daily exercise. Or, two Hard workouts per day.
So, If I am an individual who needs 2000 calories to maintain 200 lbs., and my activity factor is consistently moderately active, I would perform the following equation:
2000(Calories) *1.55(Activity Factor) = 3100 calories
This means on the days where this particular individual works out, they would need 3100 calories to MAINTAIN their body weight at 200 lbs. If this individual was looking to decrease body fat, they would create a caloric deficit (500-750 calories per day) by deducting calories by eating less, moving more, or a combination of the two. This would be done on days if they workout or chose to rest. If the individual was looking to gain lean mass, they would add to their caloric intake to obtain 1-2 lbs. per week or around 500 calories per day.
3. How to track calories
The practical application of calorie balance combined with consistency will take you farther than just having the “ head knowledge” that calories dictate the rate of weight and results of body composition. After establishing the proper amount of calories to be consumed that match your goal, you need to find the best way to track you calories. Technology has multiple applications out there that even use bar code scanners to make a tedious task, more convenient and encouraging. If you have more patience than some, keeping track of your calories in a notebook or a spreadsheet can be just as effective. Find the method that is easiest for you to use. Would you say that you tend to eat the same contents of food month after month? Most do. As creatures of habit, we enjoy foods that taste well and prove convenience with our busy lifestyles. This isn’t a bad thing. There are some definite positives to consuming the same foods over and over:
- Recording the same foods will keep a habit of knowing how many calories are in certain foods. Even when you are in different locations, you can feel confident making the right choices or consuming proper portions by knowing how much calories you need for energy.
- Repetitive recording and logging is usually saved in a database on most applications. Its easily accessible for our busy lifestyle and user friendly.
- Logging the foods that you have always consumed will show you what you need to reduce or add to your regimen for optimum results.
Calorie balance will dictate around 50 % of the success of your body composition goals. Mastering this aspect with consistency is literally half of the battle. Discover your best plan to obtain the success you deserve. Use your strategy to find a healthy relationship with food, and understand how to use it as a tool. This is the biggest roadblock for so many of us. But once you get this hang of calorie balance, you can accomplish anything from else from the wellness perspective.