Dietary intake and weight loss

Hello all, and welcome to the next installment of my blog.

I have been watching my poll, and have seen that most people are most interested in dietary concerns.

So, with that in mind I decided to go ahead and make a post dedicated to that.

First of all, you will need this basic understanding: 1 pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. If you remember nothing else from this post, remember that!

Losing fat is really as simple as creating a deficit equal to the number of pounds that you want to lose each week! This deficit can be created through dietary restriction, exercise or a combination of both.

For example: I want to lose somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 lbs. per week. This means that in a seven day period, I will need to create a 7,000 calorie deficit. See, isn’t that easy?

In order to do this, though, you will need to make an estimate of how many calories you need to consume to maintain your current weight. This is known as your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), and there are many different calculators online to provide an easy way to figure this out.

I prefer the calculators that use the Katch-McCardle equation, as this takes into account your LBM (Lean Body Mass). The fact that this equation takes LBM into account makes it more accurate, in my opinion. I will add some links at the end of this, as well as add them to the Resources page.

You will also need to take into account an activity modifier. If you have a desk job, like a lot of Americans, I would use the modifier of 1.2. That means that you will take the caloric intake derived from the equation above and multiply it by 1.2. This result is the amount of calories you need every day simply to exist at your current weight. I will recommend that you use a lower activity modifier, as people tend to overestimate their activity level.

Even though I lift weights for an hour three times a week, I still use the “sedentary” modifier for my caloric intake.

Of course, in order to properly perform this calculation you will need to calculate your body fat percentage. This can be estimated from measurements of various body parts, or you can get a body fat reading from a gold standard technique like hydrostatic weighing or a BodPod. I have access to an NIR body fat analyzer at my gym. It is not the most accurate reading, but it at least gives me an idea of where I am.

Once you have that estimate, you can calculate your LBM by taking your weight and multiplying it by the body fat percentage. This will give you your fat mass. Subtract this number from your weight, and this will give you your LBM.

Now you are ready to figure out how many calories you need to lose weight at the rate that you want to lose it! Simply take the number of pounds per week that you want to lose and multiply that by 3,500. This is how many calories you need to restrict in order to lose that amount per week. Divide it by seven and you have a simple amount each day to subtract from your caloric intake!

I would recommend no more than 2 pounds of weight loss per week. This will allow your body to become accustomed to the lower caloric intake and adjust to the lower body weight more easily as well.

Of course you have to keep accurate track of your caloric intake each day to make sure that you are meeting your goals. Also, you may have to adjust your caloric intake if you are losing more or less than you want. I prefer My Fitness Pal, which is easy to use on a computer and smartphone. More on this in a later post.

If any of this is confusing to you, I would be glad to help you out. Here are some links to get you started:

Katch-McCardle calculator:

Body fat estimation:


About misfit28

I am a 37 year old father of one child. I reside in Nashville, TN with my wife, and am employed as a social science researcher. Weight loss and weight training has become one of my passions.
This entry was posted in Reader input, Weight loss and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Dietary intake and weight loss

  1. Doc DeVore says:

    Well done. Nicely explained.

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