All About Calories

Counting Calories
Calories.

You’ll find them in 99.99% of everything you eat and drink. They can be your greatest friends or your worst enemies. Eat fewer than you need and you lose weight. Eat more than you need and you gain weight. Yes, it is that simple.

Since calories affect everyone everyday, it’s important to understand them: what they are, what they do, and how to make them work for you instead of against you.

Some basic facts about calories:

  • They represent the amount of energy in the foods you eat and drink.
  • They are not partial to certain types of foods. A calorie from a carrot is the same as a calorie from a doughnut (although the carrot calorie is much healthier, of course!).
  • Different types of foods are automatically higher in calories. Take 1 gram each of protein, carbohydrate, and fat. The grams of protein and carbohydrate each contain 4 calories, while the gram of fat has 9. Yes, that’s more than double the calories gram per gram. Yikes!
  • One pound of fat = 3500 calories.

So how do you get calories on your side in your weight loss battle? First of all you need to know your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the number of calories your body needs every day just to function properly—to breathe, circulate blood, adjust hormone levels, digest food, grow and repair cells, and so on. While there are several formulas to figure out your BMR, here’s an easy one:

Current body weight x 12 = BMR

150 pounds x 12 = 1,800 calories (BMR)

Simply put, if you eat more than your daily BMR, your body stores those extra calories as fat and you gain weight. If you stay below your BMR, you create a calorie deficit and you lose weight. One caution: women should never eat less than 1,200 calories a day, and men should never go below 1,500. Consuming too few calories sends your body into a protective starvation mode and slows down your metabolism, and a slow metabolism doesn’t burn calories as fast and can cause other problems as well.

There are three basic ways to create a calorie deficit:

  1. Eat fewer calories than your BMR.
  2. Exercise, because it burns calories and builds muscle, and bigger muscles burn even more calories!
  3. A combination of #1 and #2—the best option by far.

Here’s how this works:

  • If you create a daily 500-calorie deficit, you’ll lose 1 pound a week.
  • If you create a daily 1,000-calorie deficit, you’ll lose 2 pounds a week (remember that cutting too many calories from your diet is not good).

I know, I hear you: “But Heidi, I don’t like to count calories.” You’re not alone. Counting calories is so not fun. However, it’s really important to know what you’re taking into your body every time you open your mouth. Studies show that most people think they’ve eaten 20% fewer calories than they actually have, so trying to estimate your calorie intake is a recipe for disaster.

Until you have an opportunity to weigh and measure your food to figure what your “correct” portions look like, this simple graphic shows a safe and easy way to choose appropriate portion sizes without measuring cups or a scale. This should also help keep you from creating a calorie surplus:

How to make a proper meal using the Choose to Lose portion guide

Some final words of advice:

  • It’s important to recalculate your BMR as you lose weight.
  • Some calorie tracking apps add the calories you burn from exercise into your daily to-eat total, making it look like you can eat more than you actually can, and if you do eat all those calories, you won’t have a calorie deficit at the end of the day. Instead, eat the number of calories in your daily eating plan, and subtract the calories you burned to see your deficit. Remember: one pound of fat = 3500 calories, so work to eventually create a 3500 calorie deficit.
  • You can eat calories much faster than you can burn them, so don’t use those exercise-burned calories as permission to eat more food—“I burned 500 calories this morning, so I can eat this cupcake.” So not a good way to do it!

To learn more about our preferred and proven eating and exercise plan—Carb Cycling—check out Chris’s book, Choose More, Lose More for Life. And when you sign up for his FREE semiweekly enewsletter at chrispowell.com you’ll get a FREE printable handy food guide to help you win the calorie battle and reach your weight loss goals!


126 Comments

  1. Shannon - September 30, 2014

    According to the formula posted above my BMR should be 3912. However I have had it tested and it was 2376. I had PCOS(not sure if I still technically do since I had complete hysterectomy in 2006 for uterine cancer), hypothyroidism, insulin resistance(A1c is 5.6 but high fasting insulin), estrogen dominance, low progesterone. I do water aerobics for 90 minutes/ day M-F and swim 1.5-2.5 miles daily. I eat 1600-1800 calories daily but am getting nowhere. I am sick and tired of this weight. I have tried every diet there is. I suffer from emotional and mindless eating. I go about 6 months of eating all the right foods before my mind rebels and the feelings of being punished take over. I have tried counseling. Nothing seems to work. I just can’t get my brain to stop the cravings and negative self talk. Any suggestions for me?

    • Team Powell - September 30, 2014

      Yes, I do have a suggestion. Have you tried Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program? You can find it in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” Their book contains their complete nutrition and exercise program, and it’s the same one they use on the show. It will teach you everything you need to know and do to achieve your own transformation! Learn about the nutrition basics here: http://heidipowell.net/2713/carb-cycling-101/. And please discuss this, or any nutrition and exercise program, with your healthcare team first. And another tool Chris and Heidi use with every client is to make and keep a simple daily promise to yourself. You can learn about the process here: http://heidipowell.net/8679/it-really-is-all-about-promises-2/. This tool could help you with your emotional and mindless eating. It might be worth a try!

  2. Tammy - September 26, 2014

    Specialty coffee?? like Dunkin Doughnuts coffee you buy in the stores I don’t put any creamer just sweetener, also I use a lot of flavor extract in my day along with parkay no calorie butter spray. What’s your opinion on that?

    • Team Powell - September 26, 2014

      Straight black coffee is the only type that’s approved for carb cycling, and you can use flavorings and butter spray. Check the list on page 199 for more info on these.

  3. Brianne - August 29, 2014

    Hi! I have a quick question. What is the difference between your BMR and your RMR? I had a metobolic assessment done and my RMR came back at only 1250 calories per day! I weigh about 320 pounds and have lost 75 pounds using Chris’ program and working out. I have believed that my thyroid has been giving me issues and that RMR seemed kinda low but I may not understand what im reading! Thanks!

  4. Garrett - August 22, 2014

    What I am frustrated with the inconsistency of weight loss. I have a deficit every day of 1000 or more calories. When I started on July 16 about 8 pounds came off quick, but I haven’t lost anything in the past two weeks. I log EVERY calories.. I have a fitbit and have walked over 5 miles every day and I’ve added weight lifting and elliptical. Any ideas on what to do during a plateau. I’ve done this before and it’s usually when I give up. I don’t want to give up, but I want to see results. Weigh loss doesn’t seem as simple is out vs in.

  5. Matt - August 21, 2014

    Can you still lose weight with this method without carb-cycling? Thanks.

    • Team Powell - August 21, 2014

      Yes, you can, as long as you have a calorie deficit. Of course, it will always be easier if you’re following a plan of some type.

  6. Vivian Dugger - August 20, 2014

    I have a question about burning calories. My BMR is 2,604, I am on an eating plan to lose 2 pounds per week consuming 1,360 calories. So I am being very discipline with my daily allowance. However, I am walking 10,000 steps a day and on the elliptical 1 hour, burning approximately 1,200 calories. Therefore, I am consuming a net of 113. Is this the way to go? Am I doing it right?

    • Team Powell - August 20, 2014

      It sounds like you’re on the right track. As an example, in Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program, women eat 1200 calories/day on low carb days, and 1500 calories/day on high carb days, and they don’t eat back the calories they burn through exercising. Good luck! :)

  7. Mary - August 18, 2014

    I was wondering how we should calculate the total calories we have to eat each day. Do we have to count the veggies and fruits’ calories ??? Because it seems that 1200 calories (low carb day) is easily ingested.

    Thanks

    • Team Powell - August 18, 2014

      Yes – you count every calorie you put into your mouth. On low carb days, your meals (except for your high carb breakfast) are made up of proteins, healthy fats, and veggies (the non-root/non-starchy type). If you watch your portion sizes, it can totally be done!

  8. Sabreena - August 17, 2014

    Hi Powell pack! I just wanted to say first that I’m a HUGE fan of you both and I love your show and books! Second, I was wondering if you guys do every mud run in colorado? I live in Fort Collins and would love to join sometime! Thank you for the inspiration!

  9. jennifer - August 17, 2014

    I need help. I am 44 and female and started to lose weight back in may. I have lost 53 pounds so far but have over 150 to go. I am stuck and I do not know what to do. So total my fitness and eating tracker says per week to lose 2 pounds a week I need to eat 1950 calories per day or 13650 per week. This week I ate 12580 but burned 4771 calories which would be a net calories of 7809. If you average that out it would be 1116 calories per day. Am I not eating enough? Am I just in a stall? I do not want to quit exercising because that has always been the hardest thing for me and I am kind of enjoying it but I need to figure this out…HELP PLEASE!!

    • Team Powell - August 17, 2014

      Hi Jennifer: Congratulations on the 53 pounds you’ve lost – that’s awesome! Are you familiar with Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program? It’s their complete nutrition and exercise program, and it’s in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” It’s the same program they use on the show, and the book will outline everything you need to know and do to reach your goals! Learn about the nutrition basics here: http://heidipowell.net/2713/carb-cycling-101/. Give it a try – you can do this!

  10. Katie - August 15, 2014

    A calorie deficit should be created from your TDEE(total daily energy expenditure.) Like you mentioned above, your BMR is the least amount of calories your body needs to function on a daily basis….so why are you telling people to eat less than their BMR? Hardly anyone should crash diet on 1200 calories. When you eat less than your BMR for an extended period of time with excessive intense exercise there will be hormonal disturbances, loss of muscle, and massive weight gain once the diet is over and you are so starved and restricted you can’t control yourself around food. A calorie deficit is made from what someone burns with activity. It saddens me that you are encouraging people to crash diet and it’s no wonder why one of your past contestants posted in an IIFYM group about the massive weight gain she experienced after the show was over because she was starved and over trained.

    • Team Powell - August 15, 2014

      In Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program, women eat 1200 calories on a low carb day, and 1500 calories on a high carb day. For men, it’s 1500 calories on a low carb day, and 2000 calories on a high carb day.

    • Sharon - August 16, 2014

      This is all your interpretation. It is rather judge mental. How could you ever know what a past contestant chose to do behind closed doors? Also accusing Heidi of incouraging crash dieting is complete opinion with no facts to back it up. Heidi and Chris’s intention is clear to the rest of the world…. Pure love and encouragement of others. What’s yours? This comment is condescending. If you wanted to contribute to the conversation you could have easily expanded on the topic instead of looking for what is wrong. If you don’t agree with something in the diet or fitness world(which happens everyday) what about being a contribution rather than ridiculing another human being who is trying to make a difference. Peace Love and Health.

  11. Karen Landram - August 15, 2014

    Dear Heidi,
    Help!!!! Am a diabetic and in 3 months I may have to go on insulin. I don’t want that to happen. I have cut my food in half and watching my carbs. Am try to get into a exercise routine but so tired at the end of the day and I get up early but don’t have time because I have to go to work. With no energy and feeling exhausted all the time and not feeling good , doesn’t help me. Please please help me!!! You and Chris are awesome and know that you all can help me!!! Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Karen Landram

    • Team Powell - August 15, 2014

      Hi Karen: Check out Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” It’s their complete nutrition and exercise program, and it’s the same one they use on the show. Everything you’ll need to know and do is outlined in the book, and here are the nutrition basics: http://heidipowell.net/2713/carb-cycling-101/. And here’s a post with some great info on carb cycling and diabetes: http://heidipowell.net/5078/ask-heidi-anything-im-diabetic-which-plan-should-i-follow/. You can do this!

    • Sarah White - August 16, 2014

      I hope you have time to read all of this; I know it is a lot, but you won’t be sorry. I pray it will be encouraging to you. I don’t know your health history, but I will share something that is working for me. I was pre-diabetic for years. I lost my mom and sister to cancer and my friend to liver disease all within a 4-month time span. I lived on chocolate and chips to cope and became overwhelmingly depressed and diabetic. in addition to gaining 40 lbs. to my already overweight body (215 lbs.). I went through a series of events that eventually lead me to surrender my heart to Christ and became a born again Christian (Praise be to God). but before that happen I had developed other health issues over the last 5 years: fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, anemia, osteo-arthritis, asthma, acne, eczema, sleep apnea, blurred vision, allergies to: the environment, food, medications, gluten and yeast. I was also housebound most of the time.

      My doctor had me go to nutrition classes within the practice when I first became diabetic. After eating the way they showed me, I actually felt worse. They had bread, sweets and very little fruits and vegetables on their plan. So I decided, I had to be an advocate for my own health and learn more. So that’s what I did. I starting watching Dr. Oz and caught a show about fasting. I ordered the book, “Fasting and Eating For Health”, by Joel Fuhrman and learned how water fasting could help restore and remove toxins from the body, but it also slowed down your metabolism. I was on a mission to find something that wasn’t so extreme, but I could incorporate it into my daily life to reverse my health and lose weight, so….

      I found a documentary online “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead”. After watching it, I was encouraged. Before starting to juice, I slowly started eliminating unhealthy foods from my diet. Bread was the first to go (a huge no-no for diabetics) next was salt and then sugar. I did sugar last, because it was the hardest to kick. My goal was to get to a 90% plant based diet eating: organic fruits & veggies, nuts, beans and healthy grains (brown rice, flax seed & quinoa). Everything I learned in that nutrition class, was contrary to what I needed to do.

      I only eat organic chicken and wild caught fish 2-3 “meals” a week now. I make all of my own meals, soups and beans fresh. The only boxed things I buy for myself is gluten free: pasta (which I have on occasion), cereal bars and crackers. It’s like Heidi says, I alternate “healthy” high carb and low carb days to achieve balance. If I have rice or quinoa one day, I don’t have it the next. As a treat, I have organic corn tortilla chips and I make my own salsa, using fresh organic ingredients (cilantro, powdered garlic, roma tomatoes, lime juice, onion, jalapeno pepper and cumin).

      So each week I would replace two unhealthy items for a healthy one (like instead of eating canned fruit, I would make a big bowl of organic fruit salad and potion it out in small B.P.A. – Free plastic bowls to snack on). I also added 8 ounces additional water to my day until I was up to 1 gallon (128 oz) and more in the summer. In doing this my body had time to adapt and the withdrawals were less severe. After doing this for a month. I was ready to start juicing and this is where remarkable things started happening…

      On Joe’s, website http://www.rebootwithjoe.com (the guy from the documentary) you can get recipes for different juices, but I tend to stick to his basic juices, because they taste really good. He has these four juices as your starting point: green, carrot, purple and watermelon. The health benefits to juicing is to cleanse and restore your cells so they can naturally fight infection, disease, give you energy, provide vitamins and minerals that only juicing can provide and helps your body function. I did a 10-day juice and whole fruit plan to get me started, afterwards I juiced and drank 20-32 oz. of green, 20 oz. of carrot and 12 oz. of purple and moved to a 90% plant-based diet as I mentioned before. I started exercising 5 days a week: walking up to 4 miles or 30 min. on the elliptical machine and then eventually added weight resistance 2 x a week as I got stronger.

      It took me 6 months to get this point, but I have lost 30 lbs. Now the weight is coming off consistently 3/4 lbs a week. By year end I hope to have lost a total of 75-80 lbs and be at a healthier weight of 135-140 lbs. The best part is I am no longer diabetic, not even borderline. “All” of my blood levels are in normal ranges. “All” of the other diseases and systems are gone, except for the asthma; which greatly improved and I was able to reduce my medication in half for that. I know that if I keep juicing and lose the rest of the weight (which is a must) , I will get ride of the asthma.

      Most of your itis diseases (diverticulitis, pancreatitis, arthritis) and diseases like chromes,asthma etc.. are auto-immune diseases and are caused by inflammation in the body. If your body can’t get rid of it, it causes disease. With a plant-based diet and restricting meat in your diet, the body can heal itself and fight inflammation and disease naturally, which ultimately creates balance and good health. I eat and drink on average at least 15 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, three times the daily amount that FDA require…These are the most important foods to eat, it is what heals your body from the inside out and provides the nutrients your body needs.

      My family had to adopt most of the way I eat, because I refused to bring junk into the house and it was too hard to make separate meals for them. They have some things that I buy just for them (kettle chips, organic frozen yogurt or ice cream, cheese, peanut butter, organic jelly and cupcakes for their birthday only) I don’t touch that stuff anymore! Other than that, that they have to make everything from scratch and eat, what I eat or fend for themselves.

      Chris and Heidi are such an awesome couple. Their children will have such a great foundation for their health. I only wish I would have found out and did something about this in my 20’s. ( I am 47) , but I am very thankful that God has revealed it to me now while my two adult girls are still living at home and willing to learn. I am thankful for “Extreme Weight Loss” for bringing awareness to the issue and taking a year to help people, in learning how to change over a year’s time, you will have a better shot of sticking to what you need to eat and developing a healthy lifestyle if you take 6 months to a year to do it. No quick fixes, this is a lifestyle change. If you don’t realize that nothing will work and you will gain back all the weight you lost, plus some!

      Well Karen, I hope this helps you. I talk to people all the time in Sprouts Farmer’s Market and Safeway Grocery Store when they see my cart full of fruits and veggies, they always stop me and ask, “What are you going to do with all of that?”. It is an opportunity for me to share my story and hopefully plant a seed to an alternative way of eating. I am prying for you on your journey and hope you find what works for you.

      God Bless,
      Sarah

  12. Melissa Williams - August 15, 2014

    How do I factor in my caloric needs when it comes to breast feeding? I am 226 pounds & trying to lose weight but I want to make sure I’m eating enough. Would I reach for a goal of 1200 calories + an additional 300 for nursing? In determining my caloric range & carb cycling, I’m struggling with this concept. Thanks!

  13. Heidi - August 14, 2014

    Hi, so I’ve read your book and started carb cycling this past Monday I feel like I’m doing really good at this system. However, I dont think I’m getting enough calories. I know that I should have 1200 on low carb days and 1500 on high carb days. My question is what do you have as fillers when you have you protein and fat or protein and carb? Do you fill them with veggies to reach your correct calorie intake. Also, are veggies unlimited? Thank you!

    • Team Powell - August 15, 2014

      Yes, you can have up to two fist fulls of veggies (the non-root/non-starchy type) with every meal – low and high carb – as a filler. And don’t forget to drink your water (1/2 your body weight in ounces every day – 150 lbs = 75 ounces). Happy carb cycling!

  14. Suzie sp - August 14, 2014

    Heidi , I love the way you and Chris share your lives and expertise with the world. I read through all of you links through Facebook. I was wondering if you could share a link to calculate calorie burned? I don’t have any equipment to calculate like gym equipment. Like how many calories burned in one of Chris’s 9 min workouts???? Thanks

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      There are several types available, and some calculate for different activities and using different criteria. You can search for “calories burned calculator” and you’ll be given a great list from which you can choose what will work for you. It’s also good to compare the results from a few different ones to get a true feel for the calories you’re burning. Good luck!

  15. tk - August 14, 2014

    At dorst I want to tell you hoe much I love Chris gis book, it’s an inspiration for starting my weightloss ! After trading the book I have some questions because I want to start with carb cycling, but I don’t know if this program is also good for someone with diabetic type 1. Are there things that I have to do different then the normaal program? Thank you for tour response!

  16. Shannon - August 14, 2014

    I just went thru an app and filled in my height (5’3″) weight (212#) and age (43) and that I am female, and it told me that my BMR was 1671 and the weight x 12 formula says my BMR is 2544. I realize that the weight x 12 formula is a general number, but am concerned with the drastic difference between the two. I’m eating about 1350 calories / day. I’d like to lose about 2 pounds or more (if recommended) per week, but don’t want my body to go into starvation mode. Any suggestions or am I worrying about something I really don’t need to. Very confused! Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      In Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program, which is the same program they use on the show, women eat 1200 calories/day on low carb days and 1500 calories/day on high carb days. At this calorie consumption rate, and with regular exercise, you can lose weight, and your body won’t go into starvation mode. You can find their complete program (nutrition and exercise) in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” Here’s some more info about the nutrition part of the program: http://heidipowell.net/2713/carb-cycling-101/. I hope this helps!

  17. Lindy - August 14, 2014

    I see in the carb cycling you use your hand to figure out portions, I have smaller hands (long fingers, but a smaller palm) compared to most women, does that mean I can’t eat as much as other women with average size hands cause my palm is smaller? I’m 5’6 and 334 lbs and my BMR is 4,008.

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      Interesting question! Since your palm is a bit smaller than most, you can also use the visual of a deck of cards for your protein portion. Hope that helps!

  18. Scotti - August 14, 2014

    You guys absolutely rock!
    I love watching Extreme weight loss episodes with my wife and three small children.
    As a drug free bodybuilder of 23 years I definitely utilize carb cycling (never zero carbs) and the calorie deficit approach to my lifestyle.
    I am competing in 60 days in my first Masters now that I am at 40 and Heidi and Chris provide great inspiration to weight loss and health and fitness lifestyle not fad diets.
    One day I hope to be an amazing weightloss transformation coach just like you both!

    Wishing you both great great success!

  19. Jessica - August 14, 2014

    Don’t think you will read this but really hope so. I am 33 yr old female with a history of Ovarian cancer . On HRT . I currently weight 145 and have been stuck at this number for over a year. I have tried just eating healthy no excerise ( counted everything ) and still no weight loss, I am a runner , leave bad breath it . My normal mileage a week is between 35 and 45 miles. I like to think I am fast 1:39:42 half time . I switch up my easy runs , hard speed drills and long easy runs. I weigt lift twice a week and create around 500 calories a day in deficit for nurition . So say my Bmr 1700 …if I run 6 miles that brings it up to 2300 I then would think eating around 1800 would get me in calorie deficit mode but i may be wrong . I have also tried going as low as 1500 calories in the days I run 6 miles but that to me seems way to low and leads me to low energy . I am 5″3 and have around 20bs I am carrying . Probably 10 around my mid section. Real question could this lack of weight loss be from
    HRT and my past history with cancer. I feel so uncomfortable in my skin and would love nothing else to finally be finished with my transformation . Any help would be great appreicated from anyone . Thank you in advance

    Jessica M

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      Are you familiar with Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program? It’s their complete nutrition and exercise program, and it’s the same one they use on the show. It will work for any amount of weight you want to lose, and you can find it in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” Since you are so active, the Fit Cycle (http://heidipowell.net/2719/carb-cycling-the-fit-cycle/) might be a good fit for you to help you lose those 20 pounds. With your health issues, I’d suggest you discuss Chris and Heidi’s program with your healthcare team first. I hope this helps!

  20. Elo Men - August 14, 2014

    Hi Heidi!
    I love your show guys, you and Chris are the best. Unfortunetely you dont have a show here in Germany. I lost over 30 pounds in the last 3 months following your guidances. The Chris´book is amazing. One thing I noticed, it seems a big number when you talk about 2000 calories per day, but if you go to Mc Donalds and eat a big mac with fries and coke, its already the 2000 cal in one single meal. In the other hand, if you take that amount in veggies, meat, and real food, its a lot. In the end it is a question of smart healthy choices to loose weight.

  21. Tracy Ballew - August 14, 2014

    I had gastric bypass, a little over a year ago. I’ve lost about 100 pounds. Does this still apply to me?

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      I’d suggest discussing this with your healthcare team since they are more familiar with your health history. Congratulations on losing 100 pounds!

    • Anna DePinto - August 14, 2014

      Thank you Tracey for asking that question because I am curious about that too. I eat well under my BMR but am gaining weight!

  22. Chris Burke - August 14, 2014

    Hi Chris and Heidi,

    I watch your show Extreme Weight Loss every week! Every episode is very motivational and touching. I think you are both wonderful people, whom I really admire!

    I do have a quick question about weight loss though. I have just begun my transformation a month ago and my starting weight was 270 at 40% body fat and today I weighed in at 259 at 37% body fat.

    A month ago, I started walking/jogging/sprinting 2 to 3 hours a day 5 to 6 days a week in order to reach my end goal to lose 90 lbs.

    I’m currently down about 11 lbs in the first month which equates to more than the recommended 2 lbs a week weight loss. But then again on the show your clients typically lose upwards to a pound a day for the first 3 months.

    My question is, am I creating too great a deficit? I feel better (other than being sore most of the time lol). But what I’ve found is exercise really blunts my appetite and between that and the free day I just end up eating far less than my BMR most days of the week. With exercise and diet I think I end up with closer to a 2000 calorie deficit instead of a 1000 calorie deficit.

    Thank you! You guys rock! =)

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      Chris and Heidi recommend that women not go below 1200 calories a day (in food consumed) and men not go below 1500 calories a day (in food consumed). In their carb cycling program, on low carb days women eat 1200 calories and men eat 1500 calories. On high carb days women eat 1500 calories and men eat 2000 calories. I hope that helps! And congratulations on the weight you’ve lost so far – that’s awesome!

  23. Randy - August 14, 2014

    I love carb cycling but I’m trying to understand it better. I have a couple of questions…

    1. If weight loss is achieved through a calorie deficient, then why is carb cycling necessary & important?

    2. I’m doing the turbo cycle & I’m wondering what is a reasonable expectation for weight loss over a given week?

    TIA!

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      Great questions! #1. Carb cycling is necessary and important because it’s a proven way to lose weight. Yes, you can lose weight through creating a calorie deficit, but are the calories you are eating made up of healthy foods in the right portions to fuel your body correctly, or just fewer calories than your BMR? And since a big part of carb cycling is the low and high carb days, and the different calorie intakes for each, this process helps your body lose weight more efficiently and more quickly than if you simply count calories to create a calorie deficit. And carb cycling makes sure you’re fueling your body with healthy foods while you’re losing weight. #2. The amount of weight anyone can lose per week depends on the starting weight, exercise intensity level, body type, and other things, so there’s really not a one-size-fits-all number I can give you. Happy carb cycling!

  24. Jenni Carmon - August 14, 2014

    What should you do if you are a women that has cut calories so severely that now your body is starvation mode? On and off now for 5 years, I’ve needed to shed some pounds. I have been on a program that keeps you in a constant state of Ketosis and you only get 800-1000 calories per day. Now when I try to eat a healthy amount of calories my body holds on to EVERYTHING! If I work out, I have damaged my adrenals and so if it’s stressful at all, my body holds on to everything as well. Is there any way to repair the damage I have done? How would I go about turning this around?

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      These are great questions, and I wish I could help you find the answers, but it would be best to discuss these with your healthcare team.

  25. Donna - August 14, 2014

    Thanks Heidi,

    It all seems so simple, but putting all the elements together is a daunting task. But now that I know not to eat the extra calories from my app that says you earned those extra calories so go ahead and eat them… ugh!!!

    This info just may do the trick!

  26. Melissa - August 14, 2014

    So I calculated my BMR and it says I should be eating 3,500 calories. I am trying to lose weight and am wondering how much I should cut that amount. Is 1000 calories to much to cut for my daily intake?

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      Cutting 1,000 each day should be okay. In Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program, the daily calorie intake for low carb days is 1200, and for high carb days it’s 1500. And you can add even more calories to your daily calorie deficit by exercising! Good luck!

  27. Richard Sterrett - August 14, 2014

    I have a question, I won a language teaching set for my toddler twins 8 months ago and still have not received it…#badbizzpractice

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      I’m not familiar with this giveaway, so would you please send me the link to the post this giveaway was featured in? Thank you

  28. Doug Zimmerman - August 14, 2014

    Hi Heidi,
    For us types who have to know the numbers, can you you tell me what I should be shooting for in terms of percentages between Protein, Carbs, and Fat as a percentage of total daily CALORIES both on High Carb days as well as Low Carb days?

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      In carb cycling we don’t count grams or keep track of percentages, we use portion sizes. There’s a great graphic (as well as other awesome info) in this post that explains this very well: http://heidipowell.net/4514/carb-confusion/. Happy carb cycling!

    • Doug Zimmerman - August 14, 2014

      I guess that’s where I get confused and have trouble. I have tracked my calories while carb cycling for two weeks now. If I add the two fists worth of vegetables to every meal including the base meal, there seems to be no way to stay at 1500 calories on low carb and 2000 calories on high crab days. Additionally, the percentages seem heavy towards carbs every day with the low carb days only being slightly less. Help me look at this differently please….

  29. Niki - August 14, 2014

    I am also confused by all if this. I love your show and my husband and I watch every week. I started about 38 days ago with my lifestyle change. I workout 5 days a week. I alternate straight cardio doing about 30 minutes on the elliptical 2 days per week with weight training. I also do a small bit of cardio on weight training days because I heard you are supposed to do cardio every time you work out. I use the my fitness pal app, which I am guessing is the app you were talking about that adds calories back in that are burned off. I have lost a total of about 9 pounds. I always have 500-600 calories left over for the day according to the app. I don’t eat a lot, but I feel like I am at a plateau. I have hovered within 2-3 pounds the past two weeks and cannot get down below 270, no matter what I do! (Starting weight 282). Please help!

  30. Jacklyn - August 14, 2014

    Heidi, I am looking to maintain my weight, but replace some fat with lean muscle. I weigh about 115 pounds. If I workout and burn calories, is it safe to eat those extra calories and not gain or lose? I am perpetually confused by this!! I’ve been lifting and I enjoy running and when I burn extra calories that can make me net 800-900 a day. That leaves me STARVING. So I always eat them back to be satisfied. Is that how this works??? Thanks!

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      Yes – if you are trying to maintain your weight and build muscle, then you’ll want to eat back those calories burned (with healthy foods, of course!) :)

  31. Nadine - August 14, 2014

    I am following the chose to lose program and I am confused as to how many calories I should be eating a day. I weight 163 and I am 5’7. Would like to get down to 140-150..

    I know the book says 1200 but 1 do an hour of cardio 5-6 days (on the stair climber and elliptical and they show a total of 600 calories burned just in my cardio ) a week and strength traing 30-45 mins 5 days a week. Is 1200 calories enough to eat a day on LC and 1500 a day on HC days? Plus all the other calories I’m burning through out the day? It’s been frustrating tribg to figure this out. Thanks

  32. Heather - August 14, 2014

    The heavier that someone is, the less accurate that calculation becomes [ wt (lbs) X 12]. It also does not account for gender, age, height, or current activity level. For example, a person who is 300 lbs, per her formula the BMR would be 3600 calories. Using a proper predictive formula (the Mifflin-st Jeor is the most accurate to date), this 300 lb person (who’s also let’s say a 50 y/o male that is 72″ tall and sedentary)…the estimated BMR is 2737 calories. Huge difference. Wish you showed more nutrition information on your show, but now that I’m seeing your blogs, I get that you are trying to keep your special diet plan of carb cycling a proprietary thing.

  33. Jane - August 14, 2014

    Hello!
    Is it possible to find Chris’ book written in french? I really want to buy it! Thank. Jane

  34. Carmen - August 14, 2014

    I have a unique question–what are some tips for trying to eat well, and lose (post baby) weight when your husband is a runner and most meals are planned around his calorie intake/needs? This is of course while juggling work and two little ones. Thanks!

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      You might be interested in following the Fit Cycle (http://heidipowell.net/2719/carb-cycling-the-fit-cycle/). This cycle is specifically designed for those who are athletes, so hopefully it would work for both of you! You can find Chris and Heidi’s complete carb cycling program in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life,” and the book also has lots of helpful tips and recipes for busy families. Give it a try!

  35. amara - August 14, 2014

    What happebs when the bmr, eexcercise calories add up to weightloss but the SCALE doesn’t reflect those changes? ?? Or only slowly losing when the math suggests a bigger loss? Am I supposed to stay fat forever?

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      No! Please remember that there are ways other than the scale to know you’re losing weight. If you’re exercising, you’re building muscle, and muscle weighs more than fat. Just be patient, exercise regularly, make sure you’re fueling your body with the right amount of healthy foods, and the weight will come off. If you’re interested, Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life,” is an awesome nutrition and exercise program, and it will outline everything you need to do to reach your weight loss goal. Here are the nutrition basics: http://heidipowell.net/2713/carb-cycling-101/. Hope that helps!

  36. Brian - August 14, 2014

    This seems like a lot of calories! I’m 315 lbs, so I need to eat less than 3780 calories (315×12) to lose weight? Just doesn’t seem right. I have done a lot of half ironmans and I think my metabolism has slowed due to becoming efficient due to endurance. Could my rmr be lower than the calculations?

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      To answer your first question, yes – if you want to lose weight, you eat less calories than your BMR and burn additional calories through exercising. And yes, if you are very fit, this number could be different. Hope that helps!

  37. Jennifer - August 14, 2014

    I am super confused by this… Doing this calculation my BMR would be 3600, but every other BMR formula I’ve ever found puts me at about 2200-2500 calorie range. Does the “weight x 12″ formula account for exercise or anything else? It seems so high. Thanks!!

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      The “weight x 12″ formula is the number of calories your body needs to just function properly, and it’s a general formula. If you are very fit, this number could be a bit different since muscle does weigh more than fat.

  38. Francesca Rivas - August 14, 2014

    Hello,
    I have been using the Lose it app and weigh 175 lbs. I currently had foot surgery so I don’t want to gain any weight. I am a very active person so after having foot surgery on both feet, I am trying to avoid gaining weight. I do floor exercises and should be back to regular exercise (spinning) weight training in the next 2 to 3 weeks. I had surgery 4 weeks ago.

    I have only lost 2 lbs. in the past 4 weeks and the calorie budget they gave me was 1.048 calories. I have been following it religiously. Of course this is based on losing 40 pounds in 90 days. Based on the BMR calculation you provided, it should be 2,100 calories.. I never ate that much to begin with.

    Help!!

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      Help is on the way! Check out Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program outlined in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” In this program you eat 1200 calories on a low carb day and 1500 calories on a high carb day. Here’s some info on the nutrition basics: http://heidipowell.net/2713/carb-cycling-101/. It’s the same program they use on the show, and it works!

  39. Angel Defreitas - August 14, 2014

    Hi Heidi,

    Your show is one reason I started on the path of being healthier. I started 3 months ago and have loss 50lbs. Now I do a lot of Kickboxing training for 30mins 3x a day. I’ve found it hard to actually accumulate 1500 calories a day. Avg about 1200-1300. According to this article if I multiply my current weight by 12 I should be taking in 3600 calories. Is this a must do in order for me to keep losing weight or is the avg 1300 calorie a day ok for now since I’m seeing results and not feeling tired. Love you guys, and I thank you guys because I would never got off that couch if it wasn’t for you and chris.

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      Congratulations on losing 50 pounds! If 1300 calories a day is working for you, that’s great! If your BMR is 3600 calories, then you’re adding a lot of calories to your deficit every day, which is leading to all those lost pounds. Remember, your BMR is the number of calories your body needs every day to function properly. If you want to gain weight, you eat more calories than your BMR, and if you want to lose weight, you eat less calories (either through diet and/or exercise) than your BMR.

  40. Kristin - August 14, 2014

    Heidi,

    I am currently using a heart rate monitor to determine the amount of calories burned while exercising. I play a lot of tennis and typically burn 1800-2000 calories during a 2 hour tennis outing. That seems high to me but my heart rate is also getting up very high (in the 170s), so I guess it makes sense.

    What do you think the best way to measure calories burned is? Is the heart rate monitor a good measure? I feel that it is because as I get more conditioned, my heart rate will be lower because my body isn’t working as hard and is therefore burning less calories. Does that thought process make sense?

    Thanks!

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      There are many ways to measure calories burned, so use whatever works best for you! There are also several calories burned calculators on the internet, which are also a good option. And yes, your thought process does make sense. :)

  41. Sarah - August 14, 2014

    Thanks for the info. Since my husband and I have been together I’ve gained an extra me worth of weight. Add 6 kids to the mix and I’m EXHAUSTED. It feels like moving a mountain just to do everyday things. I can believe people under estimate because I calculated my BMR and it seems like an insane amount of calories, but I know it’s true.

    What foods do you feel are best for energy? I don’t want to just cut, I need to fuel this tank properly. :)

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      You might be interested in checking out Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” It’s a complete nutrition and exercise program, and it’s the same one they use on the show. It will teach you how to fuel your body properly and lose that extra “me.” Here are the nutrition basics: http://heidipowell.net/2713/carb-cycling-101/. Give it a try!

  42. Sandra - August 14, 2014

    When can I eat fruit, is fruit a carb or protein,

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      Fruit is a carb, so you can have a fruit portion as the carb part of a high carb meal.

  43. kscotton - August 14, 2014

    I know I do not consume close to my BMR. I record everything that goes into my mouth, and have not lost any weight just by cutting back calories. I did that for a long time, and never really got anywhere, then when I started exercise. That’s when I lost weight and got results, but now my weight is at a plateau, and my body hates me..haha.

  44. Jeannie - August 14, 2014

    Okay, let me see if I have this right. I am 247, my BMR is 2964, therefore if I reduce my calories to 1964 I should lose 2 lbs per week. This sounds reasonable but I’ve been following the carb-cycling program which states I should be eating 1200 calories on low carb days and 1500 calories on high carb days, so now I’m confused. I work out 3 to 5 times a week and over the past month I’ve lost 7 lbs and 7 inches. Should I be increasing my calories closer to 1964 or stick with the carb cycling of 1200 to 1500 calories/day? My progress has certainly slowed down over the past couple of weeks so I’m doing the slingshot week this week.

    Thank you for all your amazing help, you’re helping me turn my life around.

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      Stick to the carb cycling calories. This BMR number was given, in part, to help those who aren’t necessarily following a weight loss plan but who want to lose weight. And congrats on the pounds and inches lost – that’s awesome!

  45. Aletha Cazares - August 14, 2014

    I have a question. My weight as a 46 year old 5’5 female is 315. I’m on a 1500 calorie diabetic diet. If I take my weight X12 tthat’s a lot of calories I was eating before. The problem is I’m not losing. Should I up my calorie intake? I would appreciate your help. I need this weight off and it’s so discouraging to be doing right and not losing.

  46. Jean - August 14, 2014

    hey you all, im 5,7 and 145. i dont need to lose that much weight. my problem is that I don’t eat enough. I try and try but im not ungry that much and need a way to get at least 1200 a day but I get about 700. can you give me tips to increase my calories :-)

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      There’s a great list of approved foods in Chris and Heidi’s book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” The book outlines their complete carb cycling program (nutrition and exercise), and it will also teach you all you need to know about what and when to eat. Here’s a post that gives the carb cycling basics: http://heidipowell.net/2713/carb-cycling-101/. Check it out!

  47. Carrie - August 14, 2014

    This whole BMR thing always confuses me. I just started a month ago working with an obesity dr and dietitican. I had a Metabolic Test done. My results were not good, lol. They told me they have never seen results like this before. It came out as -28%! Crazy.

    I have never lost sooooo slow before in my life! LOL. Its getting frustrating. The program I am in for 12 months does not push the exercise and I wish they would. Its more of a behavior modification program..dealing with the “emotions/head”. My question is…is it possible to still lose weight with such an inactive metabolism? Over the past month I have lost 12 pounds and usually on a good month I can lost fairly quickly 30ish pounds. I am getting frustrated! Thanks :)

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      Since you have lost 12 pounds in this program, it is possible to lose weight as you’ve described, but you’ll usually lose weight more quickly once exercise is in your routine. But always follow your healthcare team’s advice!

  48. Megan Lundgren - August 14, 2014

    This is a great article. I like Sarah am very tiny. I’m 4’9″ . I had a baby in October and had gestational diabetes. I am now type 2 diabetic, it didn’t go away after birth. I’m 130 lbs and a size 6. Which is considered obese for my size. I really find being this tiny it’s hard to shed those last lbs . I am just getting used to my new diet plan for my diabetes, and keeping my calories around 1200. Lots of times I don’t get 1200. I know at this size weight goes down slower because you can’t lower your calories under 1200 . Any tips?

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      As was shown in the show, Sara had to lose her weight pretty much through exercise alone. I’d follow the diet your healthcare team recommends, and exercise as much as you can based on their recommendations also. And be patient – you’re doing a great thing for your health!

  49. Maryann - August 14, 2014

    Hi! I’m almost 5’10 a mother of two had two c sections currently weight 172 I would love to get back down to 135-140. I have alot of extra weight around my mid section and love handles which I hate. My issue is I eat alot of carbs I don’t eat meat fish seafood or tofo. I stay at 1200 calories and not losing. I need to restart my metabolism any ideas or suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      I’d suggest you check out Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” It’s a complete nutrition and exercise program, and it’s the same one they use on the show. Their program will teach you what and when to eat – everything you’ll need to know and do is outlined for you. You simply choose a carb cycle and get going! Here’s some info on the nutrition basics: http://heidipowell.net/2713/carb-cycling-101/. Give it a try!

  50. Adelle - August 14, 2014

    Hello. First time poster- looking for HELP! Thankful I found the Powells! According to the calculation 217# x 12=2604. Should I really be eating that many calories anything over 1200-1500 calories seems excessive esp if I’m trying to lose weight and get healthy. Thank you!

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      Great question! If you’re wanting to lose weight, you eat less calories than your BMR. If you want to gain weight, you eat more calories than your BMR. In carb cycling (http://heidipowell.net/2713/carb-cycling-101/), the daily calorie counts are either 1200 or 1500/day for women and 1500-2000/day for men.

  51. Kerstin - August 14, 2014

    Love the post hoping to use this to help my father out a question for me is what is flavoring? Thanks again for all the amazing help!

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      In carb cycling, flavorings are small amounts of things like butter spray, chili sauce, hummus, low fat dressings, marinara sauce, salsa, and others that equate to between 30-50 calories per serving.

  52. Eryn - August 13, 2014

    I have a question about calorie intake for breastfeeding mothers – is there a modification to this plan for someone who is breastfeeding? Should I just add 500 calories onto this plan? And if so, what food categories should I add them to?

  53. Jess - August 12, 2014

    Can you re-explain this comment- I’m not understanding. Especially how a fitbit would fit into this. thanks!
    Some calorie tracking apps add the calories you burn from exercise into your daily to-eat total, making it look like you can eat more than you actually can, and if you do eat all those calories, you won’t have a calorie deficit at the end of the day. Instead, eat the number of calories in your daily eating plan, and subtract the calories you burned to see your deficit.

    • Team Powell - August 12, 2014

      Let’s see if I can help you understand this better. Let’s say you eat breakfast and lunch before you workout for a total of 600 calories. Then you exercise and burn another 300 calories. Many calorie tracking/fitness apps would subtract those burned calories from your 600 calories-already-eaten total, making it look like you’ve only eaten 300 calories for the day. And if your daily calorie goal is 1200, for example, it now looks like you can eat 900 more calories instead of the 600 left pre-workout to meet that 1200 calorie goal. If you eat those 300 calories you burned based on what your app says, you’ve just eaten your calorie deficit. It’s much better to eat the calories in your daily calorie goal (1200 calories in this example), and know that the 300 calories you burned are part of your calorie deficit for the day. And it takes a calorie deficit of 3500 calories, over a period of days, to lose one pound.

  54. LINDA ABRAMS - August 12, 2014

    Hi Heidi,

    I am 5.5 about 178 Lbs i am average size but all my weight is in my Belly & it is impossible to get rid of the belly fat is all from my drinking in my earlier days
    My question to you is i started counting calories & exercising about 4-5 days a Week i have a trainer 3 days a week i have been doing this for almost 1 year & so far i have lost 18 lbs really slow metabolism
    i have the myfitness app on my phone & i add everything food, drinks & exercise everyday i dont drink soda only water/crystal light green tea i have my fitness plan intake set at 1300 calories a day is that to little for me i dont eat alott i get full really fast & most of the times dont have snacks in between meals so how can i loose more weight in the Belly specially am i doing the right thing??? PLEASE HELP ME I LOOOOVE WHAT YOU & CHRIS YOUR MY INSPIRATION & I LOOOVE TO WATCH YOUR EWL SHOW

    • Team Powell - August 12, 2014

      Hi Linda: You might be interested in checking out Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” It’s a complete nutrition and exercise program, and it’s the same one they use on the show. It will teach you everything you need to know and do to reach your goals!

    • Misty - August 14, 2014

      Linda,

      I was in the same boat as you! Thought I was doing everything right and not getting anywhere. But I was actually gaining weight throughout the year. I bought their book and I am on day 10 and haven’t felt better! I started out with the Classic Cycle and have just moved to the Turbo Cycle just because I feel a lot better on my low carb days. I am just now starting to see a small change in my belly area. It feels flatter. The only thing I need to do is their 9 min exercise in the morning. I suffer from Tachycardia and exercise first thing in the morning my heart rate gives me fits. Just thought I was share my experience so far :) Carb cycling is the way to go!

  55. Anouk - August 12, 2014

    Hi Heidi, tank you for the wonderfull work that you make!
    And I would like to know, does the formule work for thinnier person? My weight is aproximatively 125 ponds (BMI 19.5) and im an active girl (i run between 30 and 40 km/week ) but according to this formule if I eat more than 1500 cal/day I gonna gain some weight. Right? (And sorry for my english, its ma second language)

    • Team Powell - August 12, 2014

      This formula is for the number of calories your body needs every day just to function. It doesn’t take into account any moving you’ll do, so you should be fine, especially since you’re running so much. Any movement you do (whether working out or just doing your normal daily activities) will be calories that you’ll burn and so they’ll be subtracted from your daily calorie intake. Hope that helps! :)

  56. daryl - August 12, 2014

    Question:

    So, my current weight is 305 pounds, meaning, my current BMR is 3660.
    Could I really lose almost 2 pounds a week by eating 3000 calories?
    Also, if I burn 1000 calories a day, does this mean I could eat 3660 calories a day and still expect to lost two pounds?
    Finally, if my goal weight is 210 pounds, which would make my BMR 2520, could I seriously eat that many calories a day, without exercise, and still expect to get down to that weight?

    • Team Powell - August 12, 2014

      Question #1: Any calories you cut (don’t eat) and burn through exercise add to your daily calorie deficit, which leads to lost pounds. So if you eat 3000 a day, that’s a deficit of 660/day. Over the course of a week that’s 4620 calories, and there are 3500 calories in a pound. And if you exercise and burn 400 calories a day for 6 of those days, you’ll lose 2 pounds during the week. Question #2: If you eat 3660 calories/day and burn 1000 (that’s a lot to burn per day!), you should lose almost 2 pounds a week. Question #3: This one’s a bit trickier to answer. One of the bonuses of exercising regularly, besides all the health and weight loss benefits, is that as you build more muscle, those muscles burn more calories every day. If you stop exercising, that muscle will somewhat turn to fat, and won’t burn as many calories. If you’re interested, I’d suggest checking into Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” It’s the same program they use on the show, and it will teach you everything you need to know and do to lose weight. You simply choose a carb cycle, and everything’s outlined for you! Here are the nutrition basics: http://heidipowell.net/2713/carb-cycling-101/.

  57. RaeLyn McMillion - August 12, 2014

    Thank you for posting this!! I recently started running (C25K) and counting calories (myfitnesspal). The first week I lost 3 pounds!! So disappointing when I barely lost .5 pounds the next week :/ I am keeping it up but not sure why that happened. I did just about the same thing in week #2 as I did in week #1. ?? Anyway I LOVE what you and Chris do and I appreciate the motivation and advice! Thanks!

  58. Amber - August 11, 2014

    Hi Heidi,

    I’m a little confused. Based on what you’re saying here, theoretically you could plug in your “goal weight” and eat that and eventually you’d end up at said goal weight (because if your goal weight is any less than your current weight, you’d end up in a deficit).

    So if my goal weight was, say… 115lbs (I’m 5’3″), I should be able to eat 1380 calories every single day for the rest of my life and stay at 115lbs. However, if I do cardio and strength train, wouldn’t it stand to reason that I would need to fuel my body more than just 1380 calories? Or are you talking about NET calories over the course of a day? (you mention something about burning X amount is not an excuse to eat more food, so I would guess you aren’t talking about net calories…)

    Also, wouldn’t a person who has more lean muscle mass expend more calories by existing than a person of the same weight with a higher fat percentage? This is where, I suppose, the debate goes more into BMR vs TDEE — and I think what you’re calling BMR here is actually TDEE (although my TDEE currently is way, way lower than my 12 X current body weight due to my current activity levels — 12 X body weight makes more sense for a person of my weight if I was highly, highly active and I’m not).

    So basically, I’m a little confused about the math here.

    • Team Powell - August 12, 2014

      BMR is a good, simple number to start with, and as you reach your goal weight, that number may have to be adjusted for exercise calories burned, etc., since you’re not trying to lose weight. As for losing weight, you work off your current BMR and adjust it as you lose weight. Hope that answers your questions. :)

  59. Linda - March 30, 2014

    BMR is often explained as comatose calories ie if you were bed ridden in a coma it is what you need to just keep organs alive. I have heard that taking the deficit from your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). How does TDEE work carb cycling and isn’t that a better caloric intake number rather that having people eat at or below BMR?

  60. Janet smith - March 26, 2014

    My favorite workout with my boys in the springtime is jumping in puddles! See who can splash the furthest or splash each other we can go around the entire neighborhood racing from puddle to puddle yes the other moms thought I was nuts but my boys still talk about puddle jumping!!! By the way they are now 26 and 24 and I can not wait to do this with their kids! Fit grandma yup that’s me!!,

  61. amanda lines - March 25, 2014

    My favorite workout to do with my children is ride our bikes together! Arizona is fabulous right now. Id die for those reeboks!

  62. Anna Harward - March 25, 2014

    My favorite workout to do right now with my 4.5 month old is dancing to Zumba music on Pandora! I either hold him in my arms or put him in my front pack carrier and we dance while he just giggles and smiles! It makes my day. :-) #makingmemories #workingoutisgoodforthesoul ♡Anna & Damon Harward -SLC, Ut.

  63. heyruthie - March 25, 2014

    Heidi, this is great! I have a question: Can a very SMALL woman drop below 1200? I am very, very short, and I’ve worked hard to lose weight to get healthy. But my BMI puts me at about 10 pounds overweight still (and I still feel like I have that much to lose.) However, using the BMR calcualtor, my daily calorie intake should be 1400. I’ve been eating exactly 1200 calories for several months, AND exercising hard about 6 days a week. However, I just can’t drop the last 10 pounds. In the past 2 months, I’ve lost no weight, even with carb cycling. Can someone who is very small like me drop below 1200 calories? I can’t really exercise any more. My schedule simply won’t permit it, nor would I be able to maintain more than 1-2 hours per day 6 days a week, which is what I’m doing! Thank you!

  64. Teresa - March 25, 2014

    Kristina- your BMR (based on your weight x 12) is 4200. That’s how many calories your body needs to maintain your weight of 350 pounds. To lose weight eat less than that. Subtract 1000 calories from your BMR to lose 2 pounds a week.
    The more you weigh, the higher your a BMR. That’s why it’s important to recalculate as you lose weight.

  65. Jessica - March 25, 2014

    Hi Heidi,
    I subscribed to enewsletter at Chrispowell.com. I wasn’t able to download the free printable handy food guide. I was wondering if you could just send it through my email? Thank you:)

  66. Amanda Spahr - March 24, 2014

    Heidi,

    I weight 365 so that equals 4,380 BMR. I’m just a tad confused because if my body can’t possibly require that much. Would that mean if I eat anything less than that I would lose weight? Thats a ton of food. I am gearing up to hopefully start Chris’s Carb Cycling on Thursday. 4,380 is a lot more than 1,200.

    THanks,
    Amanda

  67. Kindall Smith - March 24, 2014

    Hi Heidi,

    I have been on my weight loss journey for over a year now and have lost over 60 pounds. When I started exercising in August the weight loss slowed drastically and I haven’t been able to figure out how many calories to eat now that I do intense exercise and running. If my BMR is 2100 and the carb cycling plan suggests that I eat 1200 calories a day plus I burn between 600-700 calories from exercise I am netting far below 1200 calories (typically around 600). Is this low of a number ok? I asked a Bode representative and they said yes it was ok and it is what your clients on EWL follow as well. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks so much! You inspire me everyday!

  68. Gabriella Vargas - March 24, 2014

    Hi Heidi,

    This has been on my mind for some time. I understand how to eat the portions for carbs, protein and veggies but when it comes to Fat – I’m lost. If I take a look at the Smart Food List and look at fats, should I be measuring out a piece of avocado or feta cheese the size of my thumb? Or balsamic dressing – am I supposed to pour out the amount of my thumb from the last joint to the tip? Or do I dunk my thumb in a bottle of dressing and whatever I grab would equate to what I could put in my salad? I know I’m being silly but really – how many grams of fat equal the size of a thumb? Respectively, what are the total grams of proteins and carbs as measured in a “palm” or a “fist”? That way I’ll know if I am eating the right amount. Thanks!

  69. Debbie - March 24, 2014

    Heidi I took a nutrition course in school and did very well in it but when it comes to the stuff we learned from a book to the actual eating of food it’s way more difficult to put into practice. Somehow instead of teaching nutrition from a book they should actually take us into a kitchen and teach us how to cook and eat properly because something is getting lost from the textbook to the kitchen.

  70. kristina macintosh - March 24, 2014

    Hi Heidi I was wondering then I did my BMR and it indicates I would be good with 4200 calories per day that seems very high!!! I am 350lbs and I really want to lose weight I have a two year old son I am having a really hard time keeping up with him. I don’t really know where to start do you have some advice for me

    • Brandi - August 11, 2014

      If you want to maintain your weight of 350 lbs you would consume 4200 calories. If you would like to lose 2 lbs a week then go down to 3200 calories a day.

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