You ask “how many calories do I need to lose weight?” and I often say, “It depends.” I want to apologise upfront, because I know how frustrating it can be. You just want a straight answer, right?! Unfortunately, this is not a ‘black and white’ topic and you will need to start getting comfortable with the ‘grey’.
Firstly, there’s a lot at play
We know so much about the human body and we know pretty much all of the factors that can result in weight loss and weight gain. BUT this list is massive and there are so many things on this list that are out of our control. For example, your age, starting weight, muscle mass, hormones, base fitness, stress levels, sleep habits, food knowledge, injuries, cooking skills, income, previous dieting effort… These ALL contribute in some way (along with so many other factors) to the weight you are today.
There is a lot of science around weight loss. But that does not mean that weight loss is an exact science. Every person at every stage of their life will have different requirements. And this is why I said that you need to start getting comfortable with the grey.
Let’s talk calories
At 12WBT, we offer a number of Meal Plans with different calorie levels for weight loss. For our male members who have a +30BMI, we suggest 2000 calories, and for those with a below 30BMI, we recommend 1800 calories. For our women with a below 30BMI and weight to lose, we’d tend to lean towards a 1500 calorie allowance. However, some members may find 1200 calories preferable if they plan to be doing less exercise during their program. These are generalised levels based on a member’s starting weight, height, age and a range of other factors. If one of these calorie levels works for you then that’s great. However, it’s perfectly fine (and normal) to need to sit somewhere in between.
This is why we really encourage you, when trying to lose weight, to start to tune in to your body and mind. This means starting to recognise feelings of hunger and fullness, what it feels like to be fatigued, when emotions come into food choices, and how some of the factors mentioned earlier influence your behaviour around food. You may be losing weight on 1200 calories, but taking into consideration some of your innate factors (the ones we listed above) you could be losing the same amount of weight if not more, on 1500 calories a day, especially when you’re exercising in tangent with your meal plan.
This is important
The amount of exercise and activity you are doing throughout the day also impacts your needs. If you’re training for a triathlon, to run your first 5km, or lifting weights at the gym, your requirements will be much higher than someone who has just started walking each day. In the same way that someone who’s starting at 120kgs will have different requirements to someone starting at 70kgs. Now you can start to see what I mean when I said, ‘it depends’!
I think the most important thing is that you’re eating enough to sustain your daily tasks and your workout without feeling exhausted. It’s also VITAL that the changes you make to reach your weight loss goals are sustainable. You’ve got to be in it for the long game so that the results you achieve, stick around.
If you’re interested in learning more about calorie counting for weight loss, we encourage you to head to our website at 12WBT.com. We have all the information regarding our custom meal plans, tailored to you and your goals. If you’re considering joining 12WBT, you can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your specific calorie questions! We’re here to support you!