Are You Cutting Back Too Many Calories?



As mostly every health and fitness post you see on social media, you'll see Burn more calories than you eat in a day.


It's not that simple, but for most, this means cutting calories too low, spending countless hours at the gym or doing cardio every day. Hoping for a large number of weight or fat loss.


Simply figuring out the sum associated with calorie burn is not only stressful but makes it such an unpleasant experience in achieving a healthier lifestyle. No worries, there's other ways to find what works for you without drastic changes.


Don’t Cut Too Many Calories at Once

To safely lose weight, as well avoid feeling like crap (sluggish, lightheaded, cranky), you’d ideally consume about between 500 to 1000 calories less a day than what you're burning. Before you drastically cut your calorie count by thousands of calories on day one, figure out how many calories you’re already eating at your starting weight and start slow.


Track how many calories you're eating at least for three days. Cutting calories too much can slow your metabolism and while you’ll still lose weight, a drastic cut back in calories could lose precious muscle, when the goal is to lose fat. Cutting too much calories too soon will also decrease your energy output and will not allow you to give 100% during your workouts. Small steps and gradual caloric deficit will allow your body to stay strong, relatively full and not starving. This simple approach will allow your body to lose anywhere from 1 - 2 pounds per week depending on your workout intensity as well. Remember slow and consistent progress is PROGRESS!


How Many Calories are Enough?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests between 1000 and 1200 calories a day as a lower limit for dieting and says any caloric intake fewer than 800 calories per day should be monitored by a doctor. However, the general rule, based on the NHLBI Clinical Guidelines, is no less than 1200 calories a day for women and 1500 calories for men. But that calorie count may be too low for you depending on your starting weight and your what your activity level is.


Also remember that your body needs a certain number of calories just to execute functions like breathing, your heart beating, and for digestion. A new weight management program called Move!, administered by the VHA National Center for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention (NCP), offers the nation’s veterans these suggested calorie goals based on starting weight. This chart aligns with our Calories Needed for Goal Weight tool. As you reach a lower weight range, lower your daily calorie goal accordingly to continue to lose weight effectively.


Generally, my clients that are engaged with my workout program, my recommendation is no lower than 1500 calories for women and 2000 calories for men.



Burning Calories through Exercise

If you're exercising, you may need to eat more so that you don't dip below that 500-1000 calories less than what you're burning. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends between 150 to 250 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise or the equivalent of burning 1200 to 2000 calories a week through physical activity to prevent weight gain. Their Position Stand points to greater weight loss and enhanced prevention of weight regain "with doses of PA [physical activity] that approximate 250 to 300 minutes per week." Ideally, this should also include two days of strength training. So you know, more than half of the members of the National Weight Control Registry, a group of weight loss maintainers, log more than 200 minutes per week. So what does this mean for your calorie burning efforts? How many calories you burn exercising varies greatly depending on your sex, age, starting weight, and prior fitness level. While it's difficult to detect exactly how much you are burning because of variations in exercises and intensity level, use Calorie Count’s Activity Browser or Daily Intake Calorie Calculator to give you a round-about number. You can also invest in an electronic device like the Apple Watch, FitBit or a heart rate monitor for an even better estimate.


During our 45-60 minute HIIT sessions, our clients burn anywhere from 300-600+ calories.