If one of your health goals for using intermittent fasting is weight loss, it’s important to establish some base lines before starting your journey. First of all, you need to figure out how many calories you need in order to facilitate a healthy weight loss, keeping in mind, that the addition of ANY kind of intermittent fasting practice will automatically eliminate a percentage of calories per time period fasted X how many meals you skip.
As I mentioned earlier, then recommended daily calorie intake for maintaining healthy body weight is 2000 for women and 2500 for men. It is also commonly accepted that cutting back 500 calories a day, to 1500 for women and 2000 for men, will optimize weight loss of up to one pound per week.
However, this is only a standard. Everyone is different, and medical needs, stage of life needs, activity levels, etc. should always be factored in. Medical clearance for any sort of weight reduction is recommended, should be sought out as an important source of advice and/or feedback during the weight loss process.
Please don’t be disappointed that I am talking about calories and restriction. I know you’ve probably been excited about intermittent fasting because one if it’s most attractive selling points is the “eat all you want” aspect on non-fasting days.
If you don’t want to lose more than a couple of pounds or are looking to accomplish other health/nutrition goals, this benefit holds fast, albeit, perhaps it should be edited to read “Eat all the clean organic, nutrient dense food you want”, or “eat all the macronutrients that will contribute to your lean muscle mass”.
OKAY… maybe these variations don’t exactly say,
“Gorge to your heart’s content”, but compared to many calorie restrictive diets…. It’s a good thing! And speaking of calorie restrictive DIETS…don’t you think using the tool of intermittent periods of fasting, interspersed with “normal” periods of moderation sound a heck of a lot better than eating cabbage soup three times a day or prepping 6 mini meals every night before you head to bed?
I thought so! Also, when I think of intermittent fasting I think of endless opportunities to get the whole weight loss battle right – if, God forbid, you have an occasional overindulgent non-fasting day all you need to do to reset is go to sleep, unrepentant because tomorrow or the next day offers the opportunity to redeem yourself with a period of fasting.
Try that in week two or three of some draconian food-deprived diet and chances are you’ll be slipping off that wagon faster than that piece of cake you devoured at your friend’s birthday party!
But I digress…If you aren’t satisfied with a minimum standard of how many calories you should be consuming per day, including intermittent fasting there is a formula to customize this number for your personal needs. Borrowing from 5:2 intermittent fasting and The Fast Diet, here’s how to figure out your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure):
Note: This formula uses the metric system. 1 kg = 2.2 pounds; 1 inch = 2.54 cm
FIRST: Calculate your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)
Women: BMR = 655 + (9.6 X weight in kg) + (1.8 X height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years) Men: BMR = 66 + (13.7 X weight in kg) + (5 X height in cm) – (6.8 X age in years)
Multiply the number in parenthesis first, then you can add and subtract
Age 55 years
Weight: 197 lbs. (89.54 kg)
Height: 5’ 4” (162.56 cm)
655 + (9.6 X433.4 kg) + (1.8 X 162.56 cm) – (4.7 X 55) = 1,549 calories/day (rounded up)
SECOND: Calculate TDEE
TDEE = BMR X Activity Factor
Activity Factor: Sedentary (little or no exercise) = 1.2
Lightly Active (light exercise 1 -3 days/week) = 1.375
Moderately Active (exercise 3 -5 days/week) = 1.55
Heavy Exercise (exercise 6 – 7 days/week) = 1.725
Very Heavy Exercise (physical labor; training 2X/day) = 1.9
EX: 1,549 calories X 1.375 (lightly active) = 2,129 calories a day needed to maintain current weight
In order for this woman to lose approximately 1 pound per week she would need to cut her daily calorie count by 500 calories, adjusting her TDEE to 1,629 calories a day.
WHEWWW! That wasn’t easy! The good news is there are calculators and apps that will do all this work for you if math isn’t among your strong suits.
However, I always think it’s worthwhile to understand how a rate is figured out and the bonus is the one thing that becomes abundantly clear when working out your TDEE is what a powerful tool physical activity can be in your weight loss journey.
How truthful were you when it came to figuring out your Activity Factor? Don’t feel bad – most people overestimate how active they are. Were you surprised at how much you needed to move to be considered moderately active?
The good news is physical activity; ANY physical activity can be added to your health regime, AT YOUR COMFORT LEVEL. I’m afraid we’ve all become accustomed to watching extreme weight loss reality shows and falling for the belief that in order to make a difference in weight loss, we need to immediately jump into the fray, overworking ourselves into a dangerous, sweaty, sobbing mess in order to feel the burn.
FAIL! This is an extremely dangerous way to introduce exercise into your life and the chance of injury or emotional trauma is more than likely to ensure you will think 10 times before attempting to exercise again. Work out in this fashion and you will literally end up THE BIGGEST LOSER.
Instead, I offer you various physical activity options to try out at any level of the activity factor. Please read the following from beginning to end to see the possibilities and opportunities that await a human being currently at any level of fitness:
- Physical Activity Options for the Sedentary: Gentle yoga; chair yoga; walking with a friend; mall walking; tai chi; social dancing, i.e., folk, line, square; walking in a pool; gentle aqua aerobics; lawn games like croquet or bocce; light gardening or yard work. The key is to go at your own pace, stop whenever you need to and ignore people who try to push you beyond your limits. It’s a lifelong process – not a race!
- Physical Activity for the Lightly Active: Start taking the stairs more often; park farther from your destination and walk the rest of the way; spring clean once a month; buy a pedometer or Fitbit and start keeping track of your steps; play with your kids or grandkids; go on family walks after dinner. The key is to begin incorporating physical activity into your daily routine, while keeping up with the fun stuff you started when you were sedentary!
- Physical Activity for the Moderately Active: On days you don’t have planned or scheduled physical activities, you should try to aim for 60 minutes of Lifestyle activity which could include house and garden work; biking or hiking with friends and family, swimming in your home pool or going to a lake or ocean beach for the afternoon and spending time swimming organized sports such as work softball or pickup basketball teams; volunteer physical labor for church or community as well as formal gym and swim classes; or scheduled jogging or biking sessions. The key at this point is to celebrate how far you’ve come from the couch and TV by honing your level of physical fitness in work and play.
- Physical Activity for the Heavy Exerciser: Challenge yourself with CrossFit; competitive sports such as tennis, swimming or ballroom dancing; mountain climbing and biking, cross country ski, long-distance hiking; train for and compete in marathons, and triathlons; cross-country biking vacations and races. Take the skills you’ve mastered in the gym and implement them in real-life activities. The key at this point is to discover and challenge your fitness at every opportunity. Learn new skills to keep the mind-body connection strong and keep advancing your personal best.
- Physical Activity for the Very Heavy Exerciser: Ironman events; elite tests of endurance such as Tough Guy UK; epic adventure races like Raid Gauloises or the Barkley 100 Trail Race; REI’s Mount Kilimanjaro Climb; or elite mud runs like The Spartan Beast, which runs in various cities and dates. Remove any remaining limits and pit your skills against the best in the world! There’s always room to grow and physically challenge yourself! Check out these events and more on the Internet. The World is your oyster!
The point of this is – that basically once you begin adding physical activity to your routine, there is literally no end point. Physical fitness at any age, level, ability or disability, knows no limit and is only made more achievable and exciting by the personal boundaries that we choose or that have been thrust upon us! Beginning a program of intermittent fasting is the perfect opportunity to discover the joys of physical fitness, while reaping the calorie burning, body freeing, flexibility and agility benefits that learning to move your body will offer you.