No one really ask what calories are. People usually ask how to lose weight. How to lose fat. How to gain muscles. And guess what is the next thing you hear? Calorie deficit, Calorie deficit, Calorie deficit. If your trainer does not tell you that first-hand but gives you a bunch of fad diets. You better run in the opposite direction. I’m not going to name different fad diets here because this post isn’t about diet shamming. It’s about understanding what calories are.

We hear it all the time, caloric surplus, calories deficit, caloric maintenance. How many calories should I eat? What are the exercises I can do to burn the most calories? The list goes on and on. So let’s it break down.

understanding calories helped me gained muscles and minimise fat gained over the years

What are calories?

Calories is a unit, calories is energy. You can even replace the word calories with unicorns and it would still mean the same thing. Calories is just a unit and a basic way for us everyday people to understand how to calculate the way we eat and measure the amount of food we consume. It is as simple as that. Calories in, calories out. The body doesn’t understand that an apple and ½ cup of ice-cream amount to same number of calories. The body only understand how to break down the different food into nutrients and use it to fuel the body in the form of energy.  

So when you hear people say, I ate snickers every day and I still lost weight and it is possible. It is because they are definitely in a caloric deficit and they have purposefully slide a bar of snickers into their meal plan so they will not go above their daily caloric intake. With that said, you may lose the weight but not the fat. Not to mention, the persons’ energy might not be greatest, digestion might be affected, bloating might occur. The insulin levels may be spiked unnecessary daily. You will feel like shit. However, enjoying a snicker bar every once in a while has no harm either.

But what I like to do on the daily is to encourage you to choose a healthier version of what you are craving because we all still have goals to achieve no matter what we are going through in life right?

frozeon yoghurt w/ honey (lower in sugar than regular ice-cream)

How to count calories?

Calculating basal metabolic rate and total energy expenditure.

To find out how many calories you burn a day, you need to know your total daily energy expenditure or TDEE. It starts with finding your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which you can get measured with a machine like the InBody Test, which sends electrodes through your body and calculates your BMI, body fat percentage, and basal metabolic rate, among other stats.

You can also do a math equation to find your BMR using the Harris-Benedict formula based on your total body weight, height, age, and sex. It’s a little more complicated, but the internet is your best friend and all you got to do is enter those numbers and it will churn it out for you.

However, the best way IMO is to track what you are eating for 3 days. Be honest with yourself, write down every single thing you have consumed from the time you are awake to the time you go to bed. Do not leave anything out! Even if it was a tiny piece of chocolate. Write it all down! If you can even track how much water, you are drinking during the day even better! Once you have, put it into a calorie’s calculator such a MyFitnessPal app (Don’t worry, it is free) and the amount of calories you consume in a day will appear.

For example, I consume about 1,600-1,800 calories 6 days a week. If I want to go into a caloric deficit, I would deduct about 300-500 calories in my daily caloric intake.

Should I count calories?

A straightforward answer is YES. I personally think that everyone will benefit in counting calories at some point in their life whether it is long-term or short-term periods. I have been counting calories for years now and I cannot survive without my weighing scale for more than 5 days. If I can, I will bring my weighing scale everywhere I go without getting weird looks. Counting calories is more than just calculating numbers and measuring food. It is more about understanding how much food we need versus how much food we THINK we need. Visually guessing if that chicken in front of you is about 150 grams or 250 grams changes how much protein you are consuming. Before I got into counting calories, I thought I was relatively healthy, I did not eat food out of the bag, I always eat my fruits and vegetables however I was overdosing on avocados and nuts, thinking it was healthy fats until I realise too much of a good thing can be a bad thing too. My caloric intake was over 2,000 calories a day and that was why I could not lose the last few pesky kilos despite moving the body everyday regularly.

you can still enjoy your favourite foods, just understand how to make them in healthier ways aka Air-fryer

How many calories should I eat to lose weight?

I briefly mentioned above how many calories you need to cut from your daily caloric intake to lose fat. Therefore, if someone was looking to lose one pound per week, they would need to cut their daily calories down by 300-500 calories per day.

If your TDEE is in about 2,200, to lose one pound a week, you would have to eat 1,700 calories a day to eat in a healthy calorie deficit and see progress on the scale. Ultimately, this formula is just a guideline; you should consult with your doctor, dietitian or a trainer who is familiar with counting calories to determine your exact calorie needs.

caloric deficit, caloric deficit, caloric deficit


Embarking on a fat-loss journey can feel daunting and overwhelming with all the information that is given to you but think of it as a lifestyle change and you are just trying to modify what you have been eating, work out a little more, get a certified trainer to coach you in your weight lifting journey, make sure you are getting enough sleep and try to minimize daily stresses with meditation or crystals or whatever tools you resonate with.

And while there are many ways to lose weight – (fill in the blanks of all the fad diets you have tried or have yet to try) come to mind.  There is no one diet in the world that will give you any guarantee in weight loss or fat loss. But there is no harm in trying.  If you are in a caloric deficit, all diets will work.

Fat-loss  is science: burning more calories than you take in. This calories-in, calories-out calculation may seem simplistic, but it does get a little more complicated when you realize that not everyone’s bodies burn calories the same.

If you have tried everything and still aren’t seeing the results you are looking for, it’s understandably frustrating. After all, putting so much time and effort into meal prep and reading up on the latest diet trends can be exhausting, especially if you don’t see any results.

Check me out on Instagram @bernsthefitnerd, I do online fitness training or face-2-face coaching in Bangkok. Let me know if you’re struggling to lose fat and let me help you find out what is your daily caloric intake.

Drop me a DM today and we can have chat!

Thank you for reading till the end! Until next time! I wish you all the best and stay safe!


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