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overestimating calories

What You Need To Know About Overestimating Calories

The major factor when it comes to losing fat is a calorie deficit but a lot of people end up overestimating calories that they consume.

We know the basic idea of a calorie deficit is that you need to consume fewer calories than what your body burns.

The idea behind this is simple enough and if you follow it you will lose body fat.

The problem is that most people fail to accurately measure the calories they are consuming and instead end up overestimating calories they consume.

To make proper use of a calorie deficit, you need to know the number of calories you are consuming as well as the number of calories you are expending so you can push your body into a calorie deficit.

Calculating the number of calories you are consuming

Calories are a unit that you can use to measure the amount of energy you are consuming.

To calculate the number of calories that you are consuming, you can make use of a tool like MyFitnessPal.

You can add the foods that you eat during the day into this tool and it will help you track the calories that you have consumed.

Now, it does not mean that going on a diet is easy. But this shows that it is quite easy to track the calories you are eating every day.

Calculating the number of calories that you are expending

When it comes to calculating the number of calories that your body is using up, things can get a bit tricky.

It’s easy to track the number of calories that you are consuming but the number of calories your body burns is based on several parameters.

To understand it, you need to know about BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate).  To survive, your body needs a certain number of calories. These are used to perform your daily functions like breathing, keeping your organs functioning, etc. This is known as the basal metabolic rate or BMR, the number of calories that your body requires for life functions.

The BMR varies from person to person and is difficult to measure.

In addition to this, there are other factors such as how much exercise you perform during the day, how much you move around during the day, the type of food you consume, and the energy required to digest that food.

Wrong way that makes you end up overestimating calories

There are some different ways that you can use to estimate the calories you are burning.

However, a lot of these methods are not accurate and you end up overestimating calories.

One method that many people follow is to make use of a fitness tracker like FitBit to estimate how many calories they burn each day.

The problem with such fitness trackers is that they estimate the calories you burn based on the number of steps you walk and an algorithm that makes use of this information.

But as we have seen, there are a lot more factors that go into determining the calories you burn and so such fitness trackers end up overestimating calories.

So, most people, take the estimated calories from such fitness trackers and believe that they are accurate.

Then they get surprised when they later find out that they are not losing weight even though they are burning the estimated number of calories.

A better way to estimate your calories

Now, let us look at a better way that you can use to estimate your calories instead of using a fitness tracker that ends up overestimating calories.

Calculate the number of calories your body needs daily to function

To survive, your body needs a certain number of calories. These are used to perform your daily functions like breathing, keeping your organs functioning, etc.

This is known as the basal metabolic rate or BMR, the number of calories that your body requires for life functions.

When you perform any physical activity like walking, running, etc, the body burns more calories in addition to those required as your BMR. This is known as the total daily energy expenditure or TDEE.

You can calculate your own total daily energy expenditure using a calculator as shown below.

Enter your age, weight, height, gender, and activity level. And it will show you the estimated number of calories that your body needs daily for its functions.

Calculate the number of calories your body needs daily to lose weight

Once you know your TDEE, you can easily calculate the number of calories you need to lose weight as below:

  • If you want to lose weight, then you need to eat about 75 to 80% of your TDEE, or 20 to 25% fewer calories than what your body requires daily.

Track the calories that you eat daily and ensure you eat enough to lose weight

Now that you know the number of calories you need to consume to lose weight, you need to track your calories daily.

You need to make sure you are getting only the required number of calories and not more or less.

You can use a tool like MyFitnessPal to track your daily calories. It is completely free and contains a database of most foods that you will find in the grocery store, restaurants and those that you cook at home.

Below is a screenshot of how the tool looks like.

MyFitnessPal

Check your weight every week and adjust your calories accordingly

So keep tracking your calories for 1 week ensuring that you are eating calories as you calculated above. Also, every day after you wake up, weigh yourself at the same time and make a note of the weight in a journal. At the end of the week, take an average of the weight. For example,

MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
135 lbs135 lbs134.5 lbs134.5 lbs134.2 lbs134 lbs134 lbs

Then you can check whether you are achieving your goals of losing weight.

If you are achieving your goal and are losing weight, then continue tracking your calories for the next week.

If at the end of the week, you are not achieving your goal, then it means you need to adjust the calories.

So, if your goal was weight loss and you have not lost weight, then drop another 200-300 calories and track your weight for another week.

Continue tracking your calories every week until you have reached your weight loss goals and are happy with your body.

Conclusion

I hope you now know the pitfalls that can make you end up overestimating calories.

So, make sure that you do not place your trust on methods such as using fitness trackers to estimate the calories you are burning.

Rather, calculate your BMR and TDEE estimate, so that you can then get the estimated calories you are burning, and track them correctly and make the required changes as necessary to reach your weight loss goals.

If you have any questions about calories or losing weight, please leave a comment below.

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