How to count calories to lose fat

Cherry red summer apple isolated on white

In a previous post we talked about that losing fat requires you to eat less, and the method of importance to knowing how much you should eat to lose fat is calories. You can check that post out here.

So on to how to count calories to lose fat

Below is an excerpt from my book:

30 day Paleo weight loss plan: The solution and the science to lose fat fast and live healthy long term (includes what to eat and recipes)

Your MATH will serve as your RIFLE: The role of calories


Remember the baseline numbers we’ve been talking about at the first day of the 30 days? We will be using your lean body mass, if you have it, or your starting weight. I like to have lean body mass taken into account because it is a much more accurate way to see what your starting point is.

To calculate your lean body mass (LBM), measure your body fat, take note of your weight, and subtract the body fat percentage from your weight. You can measure body fat by going to the gym and asking a gym instructor to do it for you (make sure it is the same instructor every time for accurate results) or you can do it yourself in the privacy of your own home by using an Accu-measure skin fold calliper that enables you to take an accurate measure of body fat at just one part of your body. I would best suggest getting the Accu-measure because some gyms will require you to pay every time you want to be measured and test your body fat percentage, and in my opinion is a waste of money. Otherwise the accu-measure is very cheap, less than the price of eating out, you have more privacy and it doesn’t require you the ongoing costs of going to the gym. Click here to check it out. It is one of the finest pieces of fat gauging equipment there is.

So if I were 100kg (220 pounds) and I was 10% body fat which is 10% of 100kg is 10kg (22 pounds), we minus that from the total weight so our lean body mass now would be 100kg minus 10kg equals 90kg (198 pounds).

The numbers here is your rifle. Why? Because you now have a weapon which you can use! That is YOUR numbers. To load the rifle all you need to do is do some calculations and find the final figure. To fire the rifle you just need to implement what you have found!

First we have to know how many calories are in a gram of protein, a carbohydrate, and a fat. For protein and carbohydrates the calorie count is 4 and for fat the calorie count is 9.

The second thing we have to do is find our “baseline” on calories. We need to know how much calories roughly we need to intake in order to maintain our weight and then decrease that value to start by 300-500 calories. There are many diets out there that claim results by limiting this macronutrient or by having a certain number of meals but they all have one thing in common; they all try and force the person to eat less, hence less calories and hence weight loss.


Next you’d want to figure out your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). To do this you’ll need to find out your RMR which is your resting metabolic rate and your physical activity level (PAL).

Now before I lose you, let me explain what these are.

TDEE = means how much energy you expend in a day

RMR = means how much energy you expend during rest. That means things such as your body just simply rebuilding tissue for instance or your organs working. Yes you are indeed burning calories just sitting down also.

PAL = Physical activity! Exercise! The more active you are the more calories you burn

With all that said, let’s get down to calculating your caloric needs.


Miffin formula for calculating RMR

The one problem with this calculation is it only intakes bodyweight. It’s good if you may be a bit obese but it’s definitely not as accurate as having your body fat checked. You will have to do some fine-tuning so please do keep that in mind. The formula is as follows:


RMR = (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age) + 5


RMR = (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age) + 161

Katch McArdle formula

This is more accurate since it takes into account lean body mass and not just overall body mass.

RMR = 370 + 21.6 x lean mass in kg

Once you have figured out your RMR it’s time to calculate your TDEE. The formula for that is the following as provided by Harris J. Bemedict F. A study of basal metabolism in man:

Sedentary (little or no exercise): RMR x 1.2

Lightly active (light exercise 1-3 days a week) RMR x 1.375

Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days per week) RMR 1.55

Very active (Hard exercise/sports 6-7 days per week) RMR 1.725

Extra active (Very hard daily exercise/sports and physical job or training 2 x daily) RMR x 1.9

Lets take an example of that same 100kg man we had earlier into this equation. He has 90kg worth of mass. He uses the katch McArdle formula. 370 + 21.6 x 90 = 2314.

We find out that he is extra active. By this definition it is because he works in a labor intensive job daily, goes to the gym 3 times a week and does kickboxing 3 times a week for a good hour and trains hard and not just sitting and talking. Therefore we calculate his RMR x 1.9 which is 2314 x 1.9 = 4396.6 calories.

Now all he has to do is subtract 300-500 calories from his meal planning and achieve fat loss! It’s that simple! If he isn’t losing weight from simply subtracting the 500 calories (which I doubt with that level of activity anyway), all he has to do is decrease it by 100 extra for the entire week then check if he is. If the answer is no then further decrease it and repeat the cycle until he is.

As you can see from counting your calories you now have a good guide on how to lose fat and aren’t in the dark about it either. This is a sure thing and when you have nothing to work with by just aimlessly trying a diet with a great name and starving yourself you in the dark!

How to plan your meals

The next step is planning your meals. The first thing you have to do is weigh your food by your digital weight scale (a normal food weighing scale will do too). Remember to note when you measure your food if it’s cooked or uncooked.

The next thing is to go to an online database and find out how much calories each of your food has. At first it may seem a little daunting but when you have the knowledge for the food you don’t have to keep checking each and every time.

Some of the best websites to check your food are:

When you have your meals you ideally want one protein source, one carbohydrate source and a vegetable source. You can have as much vegetables as you like. Protein should be had with every meal and do not cut the fat out of the meat since they contain nutrients as well as to help you feel fuller. Carbohydrates will come from your vegetables, fruits and nuts.

As mentioned in the benefits of paleo section a rule of thumb is it is best to eat your vegetables and meat first and your carbohydrates last because this way it’ll help you not to overeat since the vegetables and meat are much more filling than the carbohydrates. Think of your carbohydrates like a desert if you will. Also it will help diabetics have better glycemic control (10).

Let’s do a sample meal plan for someone who eats 3 meals a day, has a total daily requirement of 3000 calories to maintain weight and wants to lose weight so will cut the calories by 500, making it 2500.

The scenario is that he likes having big meals (and particularly breakfast), but likes his dinner to be smallest, so we’ll evenly spread the total calories for each of his meals with that in mind. That will equate to 833.33 calories roughly per meal. We will use for the measurements.

Breakfast can be the following:

A 250gram lean sirloin steak, grilled (405 calories)

Three 50gram Whole hard boiled eggs (183 calories)

One cup of broccoli (48 calories)

One large apple (106 calories) and one large banana (122 calories)


Lunch time meal:

250grams Fresh salmon (baked)

15 raw almonds (108 calories)

2 cups fresh mashed papaya (156 calories)


Dinner meal

250gram lobster, boiled (243 calories)

Traditional fried eggs (2 large whole raw egg = 144 calories and 102 calories butter used 250.8 calories)

12 boiled asparagus spears (60 calories)

5 medium raw macadamia nuts (125 calories)

1 cup of raspberries (54 calories)




So there we have it. You now have a aim, and you now know how to calculate how much you need to eat in order to lose fat. When you are not left in the dark and have a blue print you cannot fail if you follow it.

One final note. There are countless apps out there if you have a smart phone that will do all the work for you and that makes things so much more simple. Personally, I like to count to be sure of myself that I am on track and I can have more customization with my meals from day to day if I so chose to eat more differently. I will be recommending apps in this post soon that I recommend if you should go down this route of calculating your calories.

Setting up a plan is the easy part, it is the following through that is the painful part. But remember, PAIN DOESNT HURT

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