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How do calories work?

Updated: May 17, 2023

If you are interested in fitness or health you have probably seen thousands of videos/post/articles that say lots of different things about calories.

It might be confusing when it comes to what to do with diet so let's make it simple.

Here are few things that are good to know when it comes to food.


Basal Metabolic Rate


BMR represents the amount of calories you need to eat every day to keep your body functioning at rest, when doing nothing (staying in bed all day long).

It does not include any physical activity or exercise.

The calculation of your BMR includes your age, gender, height and weight.

There are few BMR calculators online that will make the calculation for you:


Total Daily Energy Expenditure


Your TDEE is basicaly your BMR + the calories you burn everyday including any physical activity you may have like work or sport.


Calculating your TDEE will include indicators that represent your daily physical activity, from sedentary to extra active.

This will affect the amount of calories you will need everyday to fuel your body to perfection.

Again, you can find TDEE calculators online that will make it easier for you:


People running by the beach sun
People running

How to decide how much calories to eat


When it comes to the amount of calories you need it is important to precise that it all depends on your goal.

If you are satisfied by the physique you have at the moment, then you better eat the amount of calories calculated by your TDEE.

If you would like to lose some weight you have to implement a calories deficit, and if you want to bulk you will need to add extra calories to your meal every day.


It my opinion it is important to control the deficit or surplus you will implement in order not to create frustration and affect your long term results.

Implementing between 200 to 400 calories deficit/surplus to your everyday diet is a big difference enough to see results on a medium and long term.


It might take longer to see the effects of the changes in your diet but it is also probably a stronger foundation that will make you last longer and not create any food disorder.


asian food restaurant chef
Asian food

What maters the most in term of macro nutrients


If you have read the previous articles on this blog about protein https://www.equilibriumworkout.com/post/is-protein-really-important, carbs https://www.equilibriumworkout.com/post/carbohydrates-high-or-low-diet, and fat https://www.equilibriumworkout.com/post/fat-friend-or-foe, you probably know that all macro nutrients are important. They all have their function and specific utility within your body.

But it is also understandable if you don't want to spend lots of time calculating everything and make it too complicated.

So let's keep it simple.

Having enough protein everyday will help you keep your muscle mass and make your body works in a proper way.

In my opinion it is the first macro nutrient to worry about. Making sure to have enough protein per meal is a good way to start.

After that come both carbs and fat that are also important but probably impacting slightly less your general body functions as long as you keep their daily intake suitable.


Should you count your calories every day


Counting your calories forever is probably not conceivable, and it makes sense.

However, counting them for a short amount of time can be very beneficial.

We usually tend to use more or less the same ingredients to cook and create our meals everyday.

It then makes sense to know how many calories and protein are in 100g of chicken or pasta.

You can then have an idea about how many calories are in your plate and how many calories you consuming in a day.

If you then repeat the same type of meal you are probably eating the same amount of calories and protein every day.


Should you cheat meal


Having a day every week where you get mad and eat everything that catches your eyes is probably not a good idea.

The frustration of having to wait untill a precise day to 'enjoy' food is probably creating an eating disorder and triggering your binging.

It can also create a guilt feeling if you ever eat something that is 'unhealthy' a day you should not.

It is also not really sustainable on a long term basic and probably do not match a balanced social life.

Having unprocessed 'unhealthy' food every know and then whenever you would like to without abusing it is certainly a better way to keep everything balanced.


In conlusion


It is definitely a good idea to pay more attention to your calories intake especially if you are trying to lose or gain weight. Knowing what is fueling your body is always a good option to take.

When it comes to macro nutrients, emphasises your knowledge on protein and do not create any frustration.

Everything is about balance!

Eating healthy unprocessed food 80% of the time and having a regular physical activity is more than enough to give you the results you are expected on a long term basis.

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