Many women have an interesting view on how much food they should be eating a day —especially when trying to lose weight. If you were to ask any women how many calories they think they need to eat to lose weight I can guarantee their answer would be around the 1200 calorie mark.
This warped perspective can hinder fat loss, strength gain, muscle gain, energy levels, and overall health and can lead to negative relationships with food and binge cycles, leading to depression and other psychological issues.
But its not your fault. So many magazines, fitness platforms and influencers are promoting fast results using crazy methods that generally fall into the 1200 calorie diet.
This does not take into account the energy requirements of individuals and what they actually need to put in their body each day as a minimum requirement.... basel metabolic rate or BMR.
Let me give you an example of a 70kg female, 28yrs old, 165cm, lets call her Sarah. Sarah's BMR would around 1500 calories using the Harris Benedict equation for females.
So you would assume that by Sarah eating less than these 1500 calories you would see fat loss, right?
Yes, maybe for a short while along with muscle loss too and then guess what a plateau is going to hit and it will hit HARD. Along with fatigue, mood swings, maybe loss of menstrual cycle, hanger, and then binging.
BMR is purely the amount of energy your body needs to wake up....thats it.
This does not take into account energy you burn from exercises, from walking, from fidgitng, blinking and eating....oh thats right you burn energy while you eat too.
So lets look at Sarah again. She trains 3 days a week, 1hr each session. She's not very active outside this, drives to work and then has a sedentary office job. Using Harris Benedict activity factor of 'light exercises 1-3hrs a week.
We take her BMR 1500 X activity factor of 1.375 = 2060 calories per day.
To maintain Sarah's current body weight she must consume 2060 calories a day. This would be her estimated maintenance calories.
To start to lose weight Sarah would need to decrease these calories, this is called a calorie deficit. The deficit can be aggressive (around 500 calories) or conservative (around 200 calories). But it most definitely shouldn't go below your BMR
So the calculation says you need to eat around 1500-1800 calories for fat loss, but your scared as hell to eat that and your only eating around 1200 calories right now, so what do you do?
No1. Increase Calories Slowly
Increase your calories slowly each week, around a 50-100 calories a week will be small enough for your body to adjust and utilise the new calorie intake without gaining a heap of body fat.
No 2. Track Your Diet.
There is no better measure that to actually know exactly what your putting into your body and then tweak and adapt it from there. Start tracking using an app like Myfitness Pal.
No 3. Seek Out An Expert. If you not comfortable going though this process alone then get the help, guidance and support of someone that can show you how to do this correctly and so you can see results, have more energy and be a nicer less hangry human.
SIDE NOTE: When you under eat like this and then 'fall off the wagon' by eating a heap of calorie dense foods, its not because you have no control or your a failure..... its because your so bloody hungry. If you take a moment to eat more calories and eat more whole foods packed with nutrients and protein you may feel full for a few weeks, but that means you not going to be binging later on and you body is getting what it needs to thrive.
So have some faith that eating more food more regularly is actually going to help you .....not hinder you.