Continued from here


Here’s the plan step-by-step – And read past that to see how it can be easier:

  • Step 1: Determine your “BMR” or basic calorie usage.  This is the number of calories you use in a day when you don’t exercise.  The more technical term is your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the number of calories you burn as your body performs basic (basal) life-sustaining function.  To estimate your BMR, use an online calculator like this one.  A 30 year old man, 5’10” tall, 180 pounds, has a BMR of about 1800 calories/day.

  • Step 2: Pick your weight loss goal. Say 1 pound a week. I recommend trying that as something you can stick with. 1 pound of fat is about 3600 calories, so you want to use 3600 calories than you eat+drink every week.  That’s about 500 calories every day.  That’s your target “calorie deficit”.  With our example BMR of 1800 calories, this means you’d need to eat & drink no more than 1300 calories a day on average (1800 - 500).

  • Step 3: Track your calories consumed. This is easy to say but where it starts to get difficult to do.  I use an app and enter everything I eat or drink (be careful to record everything, a lot of things you drink have a lot of calories). I recommend myFitnessPal. You don’t need to use an app, and many diets just tell you how to control what you eat and how much so that you don’t need to track it yourself.  For me, using a tracking app means I can eat something like a hamburger one meal if I balance it out by eating less in other meals.

  • Step 4: Track your exercise calories. I suggest using a smart watch, and prefer Garmin, but you can also just estimate this, for example with this online calculator

Every day you use the formula above.  For the example of our 30 year old man with a BMR of 1800 calories/day.  Let’s assume he walked 3 miles, which is about 245 calories according to this online calculator.  Then the math would be:

   1800 + 245 - (eat/drink calories) > 500

In other words, he needs to eat less than 1545 calories that day.

Too complicated?  myFitnessPal will do all this for you.

I do all this automatically by setting up myFitnessPal with my target calories as (BMR basic calories) - (target calorie deficit). For our example, this is 1300 calories (1800-500).  The app is integrated with my Garmin watch that tracks my exercise calories, so it automatically increases my daily target by the calories I use exercising. 

One final comment is that I was first really depressed with the small number of calories I could eat every day, but by making smart choices, I find I can be full and eat food I like and still meet my calorie targets.  For example, a 3 egg omelet is going to be at least 150 calories but if you order an egg white omelet that’s only 50 calories. Read some of my recipes for ideas. 

More Tips:

  • Feeling full and being healthy is still about what you eat. It’s been shown that you can lose weight and eat any kind of food, as long as you are in a calorie deficit. But, I also want to gain muscle, so I eat lean proteins like chicken and fish.  And, eating vegetables and fruit means I can eat a lot more food (by volume), and the volume fills me up and keeps me full.

  • You can't out-exercise your diet. Unless you are exercising 8 hours a day (famously like Michael Phelps when he was training for the olympics), losing fat will depend on what you eat.  Exercise will help, but it’s far too easy to eat out-eat your exercise.