You've got yourself a fitness tracker. You've got yourself a scale. You're staring at the calorie calculator trying to determine just how much you should eat in a day. It's asking you questions about your height, weight, religion and position relative to the equator.
Close that program now. Here's the easy way to calculate how many calories you need in a day.
Open your food tracker.
Track everything you eat and drink for a week (7 days).
And I mean everything. If you so much as lick a marshmallow, you better note that you did. Many of us lie to ourselves about our food habits. It's time to suck it up and finally come clean. Your calorie count is much scarier when it's imagined, so turn it into a real thing by writing it down.
Average out the 7 totals.
For those of you that haven't touched math in a while, here's the formula:
(Day 1 + Day 2 + Day 3 + Day 4 + Day 5 + Day 6 + Day 7) / 7
In words, add up each day's total then divide this total by 7.
What is this final number? This is how many calories you eat per day to maintain your current weight without you needing to know your current weight.
For Losing Weight
Take your total and subtract 100 - 500 calories. The more you cut, the faster you'll lose weight. A 500 calorie deficit totals out to about one pound per week.
For Gaining Weight
Take your total and add 100 - 500 calories. The more you add, the faster you'll gain weight. A 500 calorie addition totals out to about one pound per week.
Weigh yourself every day. Add it to your fitness tracking sheet, preferably one that can immediately bring up a graph. As soon as you drop about 5 pounds, return to Step 4 and recalculate your calories based on where you are, then proceed to Step 5. Wash, rinse, repeat until you have achieved your goal weight.
A Note on Calories
Do not push yourself too hard too fast. You will feel hungry or too full as your body adjusts. It takes about one week for your stomach to finally shut up, and this amount of time varies from person to person. If this is your first time, feel free to take it in as small increments as you are comfortable with. The important thing is that you are making progress, not how big the steps are -- big steps come later. Right now it's all about learning to walk.
In the end, calorie counting is all about figuring out what works for you and that means getting to know how calories affect your body. In about a month's time, you'll have this down perfectly.
As for the macro percentages on some of the food trackers out there, go with whatever is recommended on the site you're using. Your number one focus right now is to get to your goal weight. Once you're there, we'll talk macros.
Co-host of HeroesForge, founder of Battle to Be Better, gamer, singer and all around happy person.