One of the most common problems affecting people all over the world is being overweight. People that are overweight try various methods to lose the excess pounds, mostly by diet and exercise. While these are the best methods to lose weight and to get in shape, people who try out these methods often fail in their endeavor due to lack of knowledge or professional guidance.

Some people get professional help in planning a proper exercise routine, some go to a gym, while others try fitness exercises at home. Their efforts to get in shape and shed excess weight usually ends in frustration as the results do not come as expected or they obtain no results at all. This can be caused by several factors, but the most important factor affecting their success in losing weight is generally due to improper diet planning or no diet plan at all. If there is a diet plan in place it is often not followed on a regular basis.

But, can you plan your diet in such a way that it will help you with weight loss and to get you in shape?

Before attempting any kind of diet measures or exercise routine, it is always best to seek help from a qualified physician to assess your present condition and to provide you with advice, especially if you fall under the excessively overweight category.

The next thing you need to know is that neither just exercising nor going on a diet will help you with weight loss. In order to achieve weight loss and to get in shape you need to have both exercise and a diet in place as this works in tandem to help you burn fat and lose weight.

While planning a proper diet, you first need to know specifics like basal metabolic rate, total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), calorie counts from food sources, etc. Now, let’s look at each one of these and learn how to calculate the number of calories you need to be taking in every day according to your personal requirements.

Basal metabolic rate is the total amount of calories required by the body to perform its day-to-day involuntary functions such as functioning of the heart, lungs, liver, kidney, brain, etc.

The basal metabolic rate is calculated using the Harris-Benedict Formula or the Katch-McArdle Formula. Both these formulas use the metric system of calculation wherein you need to convert your weight in pounds to weight in kilograms and height in inches to height in centimeters.

Harris-Benedict Formula


BMR = 66 + (Weight in pounds X 6.23) + (Height in inches X 12.7) – (Age in years X 6.8)

Women = 655 + (Weight in pounds X 4.35) + (Height in inches X 4.7) – (Age in years X 4.7)

Katch-McArdle Formula

BMR = 370 + (Lean Body Weight in Kilograms X 21.6)

Once you have been able to calculate the Basal Metabolic Rate, the next step in knowing the total energy requirement of the body is to assess the total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

The total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is arrived at by multiplying the calculated basal metabolic rate with an activity multiplier that depends on the kind of physical activity that you are subjecting your body to during the course of each day.

If your activity level is very low with hardly any exercise, the TDEE is arrived at by multiplying the BMR with 1.2; for people involved in mild physical activity or light exercises the TDEE is calculated by multiplying BMR with 1.375; if the person is exercising moderately the TDEE is got by multiplying BMR with 1.55; for people involved in heavy exercises or sporting activity the TDEE is reached by multiplying BMR with 1.725; and for those with high physical stress or those involved in very strenuous exercises the TDEE is BMR multiplied with 1.9. Keep in mind that determining your activity level is before exercise. You might exercise every day, but have a desk job, your activity level would be 1.2 or 1.375.

The TDEE calculated gives you the number of calories you need to maintain your present weight while keeping your energy levels intact to perform your daily activities. To lose weight and to get in shape, a person should be consuming calories that are less than the calculated TDEE. This reduced intake of daily calories is known as the calorie deficit.

The calorie deficit should also be properly planned in any diet schedule to reduce weight and to get in shape. While calorie deficit is important to help you achieve weight loss, it should be within limitations. If your calorie deficit is too extreme, you may force your body into a “starvation” mode, and actually reverse the weight loss process or bring it to a complete stop. Not to mention, you may lose muscle as your body tries to survive with an extremely low calorie intake.

The best way, and the safest way to lose weight is at a range of 1-3 lbs per week, with 2 lbs per week as the goal. To help you reduce your weight in this range, you need to have a calorie deficit of “approximately” 500 calories each day. In order to avoid any adverse effects on musculature, the calorie deficit should not go below 1500 calories a day for men and 1200 calories a day for women. My personal preference is to use a calorie deficit of 500 calories.

So, in order to achieve weight loss and to get in shape, you need to have a strict watch on the total calorie intake each day. You should have all your calculations in place and determine the amount of calories that you need to be taking each day to keep your calorie intake within the prescribed calorie deficit levels so that it will help you burn fat and lose weight.

While a strict watch on the calorie intake is necessary, this daily calorie requirement should come from a balanced diet and not from any and every source. The ideal balanced diet should include daily intake of about 40% carbohydrates, 40% proteins, and 20% of healthy fats while trans fats should be totally eliminated from the diet and saturated fats should be very minimal in the diet. These ratios are baseline ratios, and you may find a ratio which works better for your personal preference. Use the above ratios as a guide, and adjust them as you see fit.

So, in order to get in shape and to lose weight you need to watch your calorie intake and restrict it to be within the calorie deficit calculated. A healthy and balanced diet should be planned and followed daily while exercising regularly, which will help you achieve your goals and be able to shed weight in the prescribed limits. Remember, if you want to lose weight, and get in shape, diet is extremely important. Your results will skyrocket if you can maintain a proper diet with good nutrition and exercise. My personal recommendation, and one of my favorites is the new ChaLEAN Extreme workout. With the diet guides and instructional dvd videos, you have everything you need to get in shape!