Did you know that snacks — even the healthy ones — could be the real reason why you’re not losing weight? Don’t take my word for it. In this article, I’ll show you how to figure out exactly how many calories you need to consume per day to lose weight. And how otherwise healthy snacks are making it mathematically impossible for you to burn fat.
How Many Calories Per Day To Lose Weight?
To determine how many calories you need to eat to lose weight, we need to calculate your resting metabolic rate. This is a measurement of how many calories you would burn over 24 hours if you were on bed rest. The Katch-McArdle Formula is the most commonly used formula for estimating metabolic rate.
Katch-McArdle Resting Metabolic Rate Formula:
Your Resting Metabolic Rate = (21.6x lean body mass[in kg]) + 370.
So if you’re a man who weighs 180lbs with approximately 10% body fat, that means you’ve got 18 pounds of fat tissue and 162 pounds of lean mass. We can convert 162lbs of lean mass into kilograms by dividing by 2.2. So 162lbs / 2.2 = 73.63 KG.
If we plug our stats into the Katch-McArdle formula, we get a resting metabolic rate of 1,960 calories. So our hypothetical man will burn 1,960 calories per day at rest. Obviously this doesn’t account for calories burned via daily activity or during exercise. But that doesn’t matter, we’re simply trying to get a baseline figure.
Here’s Why Healthy Snacks Are Making You Fat…
We know how many calories our hypothetical man burns over the course of 24 hours. But here’s an interesting wrinkle: How many calories is he burning per hour?
The answer is simple, yet shocking: 1,960 calories / 24 hours = Approximately 81 calories per hour.
Are you a little surprised by how low that number is? Me too. Now look at the calorie counts on foods that are considered healthy snacks:
- One large banana: 121 calories
- 1/4 cup of raw almonds: 180 calories
- Yogurt (Dannon-brand light & fit, non-fat): 80 calories
- Celery sticks & cream cheese: 136 calories
- Protein Shake: 300 calories
As you can see, any one of these widely-considered healthy snacks will wipe out an hour’s worth of fat burning or more. When you consider the average person consumes three meals per day, plus three or more snacks in between meals you can start to see why losing weight is so difficult. By eating multiple snacks per day, you’re simply never giving your body a chance to tap into your fat stores to burn those calories for energy.
The “No Snack” Method For Fat Loss
If you want to lose weight, then do your best to eat healthy meals. Exercise. Move more throughout the day. And most importantly — stop snacking! Eating between meals does little to fill you up and prevents you from burning fat and calories between meals.
Update: How To Figure Out Your Lean Body Mass
If you want to figure out your own personal resting metabolic rate using the Katch-McArdle resting metabolic rate formula above, here’s how it’s done:
#1) Get your height, weight and waist measurement.
#2) Plug your data into the calculator here.
#3) Press the “calculate” button. This calculator will give you a lot of different data, but we’re interested in body fat %. (3rd one down).
#4) Once you know your body fat percentage, you can calculate your lean body mass. So if you weigh 200lbs with 10% body fat, that means you have 20 pounds of fat which leaves 180lbs of lean mass.
#5) Once you know how much lean mass you have, then you can calculate your resting metabolic rate using the Katch-McArdle formula above.
Fun with math!
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Matt Marshall is a fitness writer and researcher committed to uncovering the truth about health and fitness. He shatters myths and reveals the facts about getting fit at