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What the heck is a calorie and how important is it?

So first let’s define what a calories is.

Calorie – “The energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water through 1 °C, equal to one thousand small calories and often used to measure the energy value of food.”

Now that you know what a calorie means according to your high school science teacher, let’s move on to the meat and potatoes– the things that really matter.

A calorie is a way to measure your food and totally daily intake. It’s also a metric we can use to see how many calories we’re expending through daily activities, whether that’s exercise or non-exercise oriented activities (things like breathing, eating, walking, doing chores, fidgeting, talking, etc…).

In more technical terminology, it’s energy balance we’re talking about here. What are you taking in vs. what are you taking out? When you can understand that and properly adjust that balance in your favor (i.e. a deficit for weight loss or surplus for mass gain), you achieve the aesthetic result you’re searching for (it’s not that simple, but that’s the foundation).

So what does this really mean for you?

It means you now have a way of tracking, determining, and controlling the outcomes you see with your body composition, according to this specific number. It’s a powerful tool that can help you dial in your nutrition enough to visibly see differences in your body almost immediately.

In other words, Calories in vs. Calories Out will determine 75% or more of the results you see.

This Is the exact reason that this is the first tactic or strategy we’re really touching on. It’s the biggest influence on what we see with our body composition. If we ignore this, it’s going to be very tough to see results.

And this is debated, yet it’s not really up for debate.

WhatI mean by that is that people will argue til the cows come home because so many believe that it’s not “all about calories”……..and I will be the first to agree with that, there is much more to it. Physiological processes, nutrient deficiencies, genetics, training, muscle mass and other non-calorie related aspects DO come into play and impact the aesthetic progress we achieve.

However, those things do not directly dictate body composition transformation. Almost always, they indirectly impact our energy expenditure – which CAN influence body composition, but the reason this is not up for debate is that it always comes back to the energy balance equation and solving that in order to see changes.

Now you may be thinking,“But I know plenty of people who do not track their calories and they’re lean as hell!

Are they a magical Unicorn?”


1. They tracked once upon a time and can be successful with intuitive eating now or just stick to similar meals and know what macros are in them. I’m a great example; I have tracked calories for years and most recently my macros almost every single day. It taught me everything about what I was eating and what my body needs and does well on , allowing me to maintain my weight without using a tracking system. But if I want to see changes or notice I am starting to see changes I don’t necessarily want, this system is the first thing I’ll go to.

2.They’re genetic freaks. Have to get this out there because the industry, and social media in general, are full of genetic freaks who are born with abs yet preach about their systems and programs. Some have great info and others don’t, sometimes it’s hard to tell. But one thing we can do for ourselves, is realize that genetics play a huge roll and instead of complaining about ours not being superhuman – we can use systems like this to take control.

3.They’re habitually in control of their eating. Many people can monitor eating and practice moderation very easily. My guess is that you’re not one of them, since you’re reading this. My guess is you have a goal to get lean (this is for you) or you do struggle with your eating habits and want to change (this is for you).


The first and most important step in order to figure out where your calories should be at and successfully using this system,is finding where your maintenance level is.

This is where I lose most people…It’s a lot of math and equations so if this isn’t your thing then you need a coach to help you determine what those are…

See, calories are like a GPS for changing your body composition. It’s going to guide you down the exact path needed to find the result you’re looking for. But here’s the deal, if you don’t put in the place you’re starting from – there’s no way in you’ll find the destination waiting for you.

So that’s where finding your maintenance calories comes in and play’s such a big role in starting this process.

There are 3 ways to go about this; the first is the most simple – but likely the least accurate.

This is much more accurate and individualized then the method above, but in my experience it’s still a “ideal world scenario” type of maintenance calculator.

What I mean by that is that this is assuming all is fantastic with you. You’re healthy, your metabolism is active, you haven’t under-the chronically, you aren’t heavily overweight, you have a decent amount of muscle mass, and you understand tracking calories, fully.

See how that can be misleading? 99% of people jumping into calories are NOT doing or experiencing at least one of those things. Which is fine, because we can solve that too.

But in people who are just getting into things, haven’t been dieting a bunch, and are ready to patiently see progress – this method works well and absolutely is accurate enough to trust.

Here’s the steps:

1. Baseline Multiplier (Before Activity) – Bodyweight x10 = Theoretical Caloric Intake

This is where it can get super confusing and why people come to me for help….

Lifestyle/Training Frequency Activity Multiplier/Number
Sedentary + 3-6Days Training/Week 1.3–1.6
Active + 3-6 Days Training/Week 1.7-2.0
Very Active +3-6 Days Training/Week 1.9-2.2

Something to note with the table above is that these activity multipliers are often exaggerated in my experience; or maybe it’s the case that people overestimate their activity level.

Maintenance Calculator #3 – Daily Tracking/Weighing, To Find Averages

Last calculator is to average your calorie intake and weight by taking 2 weeks of calories and 2 week of weight and divide by 14 and you’ll have your average daily.

It’s a lot I know and why many people come to me for help…

My experience has taught me there are 2 things to help get clients started…

1. Stay at your maintenance caloric intake for a couple weeks, while implementing a smart training program and optimizing macros (we’ll get there) can be a great start. It gets you in routine, you can focus on the educational side of things to build adherence, and oftentimes you can cut fat from simply being more on point.

2. Use the minimal effective dose. So instead of pulling 500 calories out of the gates, try pulling 150-250 and see what happens. Worse case, your weight doesn’t budge after 1-2 weeks and you pull a bit more – but it’s better to air on the side of caution.

Need more info on how to get started?? Sign up for either your Macro tracking and meal Prep planning here…. or Sign up for my Foundations Program here….