How does one figure out a person’s calories accurately?
There is no clearcut answer that one can give without two things taking place:
- The Coach figuring out the calories has a deep understanding of nutrition, exercise and health sciences as well as a degree of experience working with real case studies: that being interacting human beings over time.
- Knowledge of the person’s unique needs as an individual.
The process I follow takes about 2 weeks with plenty of inventory taken over that time.
I have no problem sharing this information nor do I mind people taking my information and applying it as their own. I do so because I understand that the process is a very special one involving an interaction between an athlete and coach. I pride myself on getting to know peoples’ needs and meeting those needs by listening and applying, getting feedback and adjusting, constantly. It’s a high touch approach that involves listening to biofeedback as well as to emotions, and treating someone’s situation as much more that fitting in macro’s.
Here we go:
- I need vital statistics, age, height, weight, male or female, as well as a visual account of their physique.
- From there I use the Harris-Benedict formula to determine Basal Metabolic Rate.
- I then ask for a detailed account of the person’s exercise routine, their work schedule and their home life to determine just how active that person is.
- I multiply the BMR by an EXERCISE FACTOR to get overall calories needed.
- The next step is to determine the person’s goals. If a person wants to lose fat, I will determine the deficit I want to see, making sure that:
- the weight loss involves as much FAT loss as allowed without losing one’s muscle mass. Lean muscle mass is at a premium.
- The weight loss is sustainable.
- I then assess a person’s physique to determine lean muscle mass. I use some sort of fat percentage calculating device. Understand that I have been doing this for nearly 3 decades and have learned from one of the best, Dr. Norm Gledhill. This assessment allows me to determine one’s protein needs, again based on the bodyfat calculation, goals, overall body composition and a world of experience. I now have the protein macronutrient requirements, overall caloric needs and a good understanding of how many carbs and fats to give the person based on their needs.
- From there, I develop a customized plan for calories that will take into account eating style, age, protein needs, muscle composition, food likes and dislikes, traditional patterns, work schedules, family, metabolism, food intolerances and allergies, etc.
- There almost always is some macro cycling and I make sure that if we need a deficit in order for one to lose fat, that the deficit does not go on indefinitely. There is always a regimented surplus day and sometimes more per week to ensure that there is no down-regulation of metabolism.
- Once the plan is devised, we have a “pre-season” of sorts to work out the kinks in the plan. I ask the person to follow the plan to a “T” for 2 weeks to determine a cause and effect, asking for all details….everything they eat over the course of each day in real-time via texts.
- We re-assess once we see patterns forming and we tweak as we go along, understanding there has to be room built-in for human error, weaknesses, all the while maintaining constant contact with the person, with daily conversation.
In the future, I may provide some case examples or do some sort of online demo. Let me make things very clear:
The process matters, as does constant client coach conversation and the trusting relationship that forms between the two.
Cookie Cutter Plans NEVER work long term.
Below is a tool I often teach and have people use. While not mandatory, like a successful business that requires accounting to run successfully, we use numbers as a tool….not obsessively but rather as a means to provide parameters.
Just as any successful business properly accounts for its profits, expenditures, etc, wouldn’t it make sense to treat your own body with the respect it deserves from a caloric standpoint, especially if doing so was relatively straightforward? With today’s technology and smartphones, it is very easy to scan in nutritional data, consult nutrition guides online or simply search for the food in question on myfitnesspal. Software today does the calculations and even makes recommendations based on your goals. The closer you track your calories, and measure your food quantities, the more likely you will succeed with your diet plan and the more likely you will receive an education from the experience. Here is a brief tutorial about a fantastic food tracking tool: