You have heard people say it, but what does calories in calories out mean? In short, it refers to the comparison of calories that you consume compared to the calories that you burn.
There is a massive problem in the diet and exercise industry that starts with selling you the idea that quick fixes to your problems are available. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill for weight loss, fat loss, or muscle gain.
There are only formulas that you must follow over the course of time in order to find success.
In this article we will discuss in more detail the idea of calories in calories out. You will find that this way of dieting is going to be the most sane way to hit your goals.
Before we get started, I urge you to download our app All Workouts: Personal Trainer (iOS | Google Play). Our built-in workout plans will help you hit your goals without having to worry about knowing what to do next.
What does calories in calories out mean?
In the introduction, I gave you the quick definition. Calories consumed compared to calories burned. It seems pretty simple right?
Well, we all have a different number that our bodies naturally burn on any given day. This is known as your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) or your maintenance calories.
With this information, it’s easy to see that if you want to lose weight, the best thing to do is eat less calories than you burn on a given day. And if you want to build muscle, you must eat more calories than your body burns on any given day.
This is how fat loss works. When you eat less calories than your body burns, your body is still going to need to consume the remaining calories to meet its TDEE. And where does it find those calories? In your fat stores.
When I was younger, I had almost no fat on my body and almost no muscle. It was just skin and bones. I worked out all the time hoping that muscles would magically appear. It wasn’t until I realized that I needed to eat more calories than I burned that I was able to finally start building muscle.
And the opposite of that would be to eat less calories than you burn. So what does calories in calories out mean for losing fat? The main thing we can take away here is that eating less calories than you burn over time will lead to fat loss.
How to take advantage of calories in calories out
You now know that the calories you consume are the most important part of whether you gain weight or lose weight. But how do you know exactly how many calories you should be consuming?
Conventional wisdom would have you believe that there is one set amount for everyone in the world. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The fact of the matter is that every person on earth has a different TDEE.
The first thing that you are going to need to do is learn how to calculate your maintenance calorie number. The linked article has everything you need to know, but it can be broken down simply.
Monitor every calorie you consume. At the end of 2 weeks, weigh yourself. If you haven’t gained or lost any weight, the average daily calorie number for that 2 week period is your maintenance calorie number.
For example, if after 2 weeks (14 days), I consumed 32,200 calories and didn’t gain any weight, that means that on average, I consumed 2,300 calories per day. Now that is my TDEE number.
If you did gain weight or lose weight, tweak your daily caloric intake to reflect your goals. Keep weighing yourself until you get a week that you didn’t gain or lose weight. Record that number, and that is your new maintenance calorie number.
Now that you have your number, you can eat at a caloric deficit if you want to lose fat, or you can eat at a caloric surplus if you want to gain muscle.
It is very important to record every calorie that you eat. It will be tedious and maybe even frustrating at first. But once you get the hang of it and see results, you will be extremely happy that you started.
Working out in conjunction with eating right
We understand the basics of our question. We know that eating at a caloric deficit is going to lead to weight loss. And we know that eating at a caloric surplus is going to lead to weight gain.
But if you want to truly transform your body, you have to do a little bit more than eat right.
Not all workouts are created equally, and no you don’t have to workout everyday. In fact, no matter what body composition you are going for, it is recommended to workout 3-5 days per week.
Here is the truth. If you are eating at a caloric deficit, and want to lose fat, your best bet is to do high intensity interval training (HIIT) at least 3 times per week. Our app has plenty for you to choose from. Or you can check our list of HIIT workouts that burn the most calories.
For a fat loss program, you are going to see the fat shed off your body if you combine the right diet with HIIT workouts.
But what if you want to build muscle? First, you need to understand that you cannot build muscle in a caloric deficit. So if you want to build muscle, you must be eating more calories than your TDEE. Also known as a caloric surplus.
Your workout plan is going to look a lot different if you are trying to build muscle. A good start is our FREE 3 day workout plan in our app. Or you can check out our beginner bodybuilding routine for mass.
At the end of the day, you need to eat for your goals. And that is the most important part of all this. It doesn’t matter how hard your workout is. If you are not eating the calories to fit your goals, you won’t make much progress.
Main Point: What does calories in calories out mean?
By now, you know the answer to our question. If you are trying to lose weight, you need to be eating under your TDEE. And if you are trying to gain weight, you need to be eating more than your TDEE.
Your body is actually very simple when it comes to calorie consumption. The only problem is that it takes regular monitoring and intentional eating to get to where you want to go.
The problem is that our society is built around instant gratification. We can eat almost anything we want at any given time. We just have to make specific choices that will lead to our most desirable results.
Remember that taking advantage of all this information starts with learning how to calculate your own maintenance calorie number. Also known as TDEE. Once you have this number, you can lose weight or gain weight at will.
Just try to have realistic expectations when you are losing weight or gaining muscle. Understanding realistic fitness goals for beginners is a great place to start.
Body transformation takes time. And if you combine eating right and working out, you are going to be unstoppable. Take the time and learn what you can do to improve. This website has countless articles to help you on your journey. Keep crushing it.