How to Calculate Your In and Out Calories for Weight Management?

A fundamental principle of health and fitness remains constant: the balance between calories consumed and calories expended plays a crucial role in weight management.

Understanding this balance requires a grasp of both “in” and “out” calories – the energy we take in through food and beverages versus the energy we burn through daily activities and bodily functions.

Throughout this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down how to calculate your calories in versus calories out to help you manage your weight loss effectively.

in and out calories - Shawn Phillips Training

Calories In – Meaning

In calories, also known as energy intake, refers to the calories consumed through food and beverages. It’s the fuel that powers our bodies and sustains our daily activities. To effectively manage your weight, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of your calories.

1. Sources of Calories:

Calories come from various sources in our diet. Here’s a breakdown of the primary origins of calories in our diet:

  • Carbohydrates: Provide 4 calories per gram. Present in items such as bread, rice, pasta, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Proteins: Provide 4 calories per gram. Commonly found in foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts.
  • Fats: Provide 9 calories per gram. Found in foods like oils, butter, nuts, seeds, and fatty cuts of meat.

2. Other Sources:

  • Sugar: Found in sweets, desserts, sugary beverages, and processed foods.
  • Fiber: Although not directly providing calories, high-fiber foods can affect calorie absorption and overall energy balance.
  • Processed Foods: Many processed foods are calorie-dense due to added sugars, fats, and refined carbohydrates.

Tip: To achieve better health and fitness, reach out to Shawn Phillips, a distinguished professional personal trainer in Los Angeles. Providing personalized solutions for your specific needs and goals, he also offers nutrition coaching and mental health coaching.

Whether you prefer in-home nutrition coaching or online nutrition coaching consultations, he provides comprehensive support to help you optimize your nutrition, enhance your mental well-being, and achieve lasting results. Contact him to be your partner in health and wellness, guiding you every step of the way towards a happier, healthier life.

Calculating Calories In (Consumed):

1. Identify Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR):

  • Your BMR represents the number of calories your body needs at rest to maintain basic physiological functions (e.g., breathing, circulation, cell production).

  • Use an online BMR calculator based on factors like age, gender, weight, and height to estimate your BMR.

2. Factor in Physical Activity:

  • Determine your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) by multiplying your BMR by an activity factor that reflects your typical daily activity level (sedentary, lightly active, moderately active, very active).

  • Sedentary (little to no exercise): BMR × 1.2

  • Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): BMR × 1.375

  • For individuals engaging in moderate exercise or sports for 3-5 days per week, multiply the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) by 1.55.

  • Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): BMR × 1.725

  • Extremely active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training): BMR × 1.9

3. Track Your Food Intake:

  • Use a food diary or mobile app to record everything you eat and drink.

  • Pay attention to portion sizes and read food labels to accurately estimate calorie intake.

4. Calculate Total Daily Caloric Intake:

  • Add up the calories consumed from all food and beverages throughout the day.

  • This total represents your daily calorie intake (calories in).


Burn Out Calories – Meaning

Out calories, or energy expenditure, encompass the calories burned by your body through various activities and metabolic processes. It’s essential to consider both the basal metabolic rate (BMR) – the calories burned at rest – and the calories expended through physical activity.

Calculating Calories Out (Expended):

1. Estimate Calories Burned through Physical Activity:

  • Use an online calorie expenditure calculator to estimate calories burned during various activities (e.g., walking, jogging, swimming, strength training).

  • Record the duration and intensity of each activity to get more accurate estimates.

2. Include Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT):

  • NEAT encompasses calories burned from daily activities like walking, standing, and fidgeting.

  • Although harder to quantify, NEAT contributes significantly to overall calorie expenditure.

3. Calculate Total Daily Calories Burned:

  • Sum up calories burned from exercise, NEAT, and BMR.

  • This total represents your daily calorie expenditure (calories out).


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calories in and out - Shawn Phillips Training

Analyzing the Results:

1.  Compare Calories In vs. Calories Out:

  • If Calories In (consumed) > Calories Out (expended), you may be in a calorie surplus, potentially leading to weight gain.

  • If Calories In < Calories Out, you may be in a calorie deficit, which can result in weight loss.

2. Adjust Caloric Intake Accordingly:

  • To achieve weight loss, aim for a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than you expend.

  • To maintain weight, ensure calories in equal calories out.

  • To increase weight, aim to consume more calories than you expend.

3. Monitor Progress and Adapt:

  • Regularly reassess your calorie intake and expenditure based on progress towards your goals.

  • Adjust food choices and activity levels as needed to achieve desired outcomes.

calories in and out - Shawn Phillips

Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them?

Despite your best efforts, certain pitfalls can hinder your weight management journey. Processed foods contain hidden calories, so be aware of portion sizes.

  • Underestimating calorie intake: Failing to accurately track your food intake can lead to overconsumption and hinder weight loss efforts. Be mindful of portion sizes and hidden calories in processed foods.

  • Overestimating calorie expenditure: Relying solely on exercise to create a calorie deficit can be ineffective if not paired with dietary changes. Focus on creating a sustainable balance between diet and exercise for optimal results.

  • Lack of consistency: Consistency is key to long-term success in weight management. Stay committed to your calorie tracking and lifestyle changes, even when faced with challenges or setbacks.

Mastering the balance between in and out calories is crucial for weight management. By understanding energy balance, setting realistic goals, and staying consistent, sustainable results are achievable.

Every step toward managing calorie intake and expenditure brings you closer to wellness. Take control of your health and begin the journey today.

Using Technology

An easier way to track calorie expenditure or calories burned per day is to buy an Oura ring.  This is a great tool to help guide you on how much you are burning and how much you need to eat to lose weight.

The rule of thumb is to create a 15% calorie deficit.  For example, for weight loss, if your total calorie burn per day is 2000, then to lose weight, aim to eat around 1700 calories per day.  If you eat below this amount of calories and create a large calorie deficit, your body can switch into survival mode causing more harm than good – you’ll start to lose muscle and your body’s own metabolism will slow down.

The food tracker that I recommend to my clients for calorie counting is Mynetdiary.  You can get this on an Android or iPhone.

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