Back 2 Basics w/ Steve- BY THE NUMBERS

Calories In vs. Calories Out

Weight loss and a healthier you involves a simple process of burning off more calories than you take in on a daily basis. That seems easy enough, but how many calories do you burn in a day, and how many calories do you take in?

Your body burns calories constantly. When you are breathing, sleeping, at rest, with your heart beating and digestion. The most accurate way to calculate calories burned is by wearing a heart monitor and calorie counter. If you wear the monitor for 24 hours on a non-exercising day, you can get your base line, or basal metabolic rate (BMR). Or save some money and look on the internet for calculations that could get you in the ball park for your age, size and activity level. You can find more information about your BMR by clicking here.  Basically, women can figure 10 calories per pound and men about 11 calories per pound.  So I, for example,  burn about 3,100 calories a day just by living. Remember, things like breathing, eating, walking around, brushing your teeth,  showering and even sleeping burns calories.

Okay now you have half of the equation. Next we tackle calories taken in, or the consumption of food and drink, and extra calories burned.  When calculating calories taken in, keep in mind what food sources are providing these calories.  Are you getting them from animal meats and fat, processed plant-based foods or whole vegetables and fruits?  We can get to that later, and explore how it affects your efforts of weight loss, but for now let’s focus on the equation to get you started.

Write It Down

For the first week, I want you to create a food diary. Write down everything you eat and drink…I mean EVERYTHING! From that handful of peanuts to the stray cookie that seemed to be calling your name. Did you have 3 or 4 hot dogs, were they beef or turkey, with or without the bun? Also was that 3 beers or 5? Were they light or regular? Even the ice cream snack before bed, write it down.  To make the mathematical equation work, we need factual numbers to plug in to do the calculations; this is the second half of the equation and the most important part.  Keep track of this on a daily basis for 7 days… now don’t cheat and skip anything you would normally eat to make the numbers look good. We will work those issues later.

If you cheat, it won’t bother me in the least it will only hurt you. Then you will be angry and upset that this method doesn’t work for you and curse me; when you may have already cheated on the math like I talked about before.

Do you do any type of exercise? Do you walk on a treadmill or lift weights?  Do you walk the dog, or go for a walk with your children or grandchildren? This is considered beyond your MBR of calories burned. We can call this a bonus calorie subtraction to the grand total.  You need to write it down too.

Tracking Calories

Today’s technology is amazing and makes tracking calories taken in and calories burned fairly easy.  In fact, there are many websites and smart phone apps designed to do the math for you. I use the myfitnesspal app via my smart phone. (I do not endorse any programs or products. I am just letting you know what is out there and/or what I use).  Many apps have food diaries, figure calories burned from exercising or even have food databases for food searches identified with manufacturer’s name.  And if you are cheap like me, many are free. By using your smart phone app, there is no need for pen and paper or calculator; it will do it all for you. Some go as far as keeping track of your progress with nutrition and weight loss. Nothing could be simpler, but you still have to record it, and you need to do it honestly and accurately.   Of course if you do not have a smart phone, you can record your numbers through a website like and keep a “pen and paper” log. Either way you choose to track the numbers is up to you.  The main point is getting the numbers together to finish the equation.

What your smart phone app may do, at least mine does, is takes my BMR of 3,000 calories and gives me a goal of 2070 calories a day to stay under. As I add in the food, it automatically subtracts from the 2070 number. If I exercise during that particular day, it gives me back calories as credit.  The overall goal for me is to be 930 calories below my BMR. Over time, I will lose weight; and I have. I can attest this as I have lost approximately 30 pounds since I implemented this process five months ago. That averages to 1.5 pounds a week, and I am still losing inches and pounds. (Yup, that’s me  holding two, 15 pound potato bags– the amount of weight I’ve lost so far).

This of course, is based on your profile and goals that you have set for yourself with the program. These should be realistic. If you are over 30-40 pounds overweight, you may want to consult with a health provider to see if your heart can take on this project. You should also understand that your weight loss should be gradual 1-2 pounds a week is what has been recommended by those more intelligence on this matter than you and me.

The Answer to the Equation is….

You should arrange your numbers for the equation on a daily basis. So you should have put all the intake of calories (everything consumed by eating and drinking) and subtract your burned calories (BMR and all the “extra” calories burned that you were aware of and noted in your diary).

Consumed calories – burned calories =  total calories

If you have a negative number on a daily basis you will eventually lose weight.  If you are sporting a positive number, you are taking in more calories than you burned off.  And if you keep that up, you will not lose any weight and may gain additional weight instead.  It is just simple math. This is what has gotten you into the trouble you see before you in the mirror.

Did I starve myself? No. Did I give up things that I enjoyed? Yes and No. I don’t eat candy anymore, nor do I eat fast foods, and I limit processed foods… but I still enjoy a glass or two of wine. It is a matter of the calories you want to budget. If I have room on my slate at the end of the day I might even have some frozen yogurt….but I record it.

Will this work for you? I would say yes, but only if you work the process and don’t give up easily. In my next blog I will take about the pitfalls and walls that you might run into that will keep you from reaching your goal.  It will be called BATTLE PLANS TO SLAYING THE ENEMY, and I will give you the weapons to be victorious in this battle.