What is a weight loss calculator?
A weight loss calculator gives you an indication of how long it will take you to reach your target weight based on your calorie intake. Through this, you can then manage your short and long-term weight loss goals by following your activity level.
Activity can be measured as follows:
- Sedentary – with very little or no physical exertion (e.g. sitting on a couch or lying on bed)
- Lightly active – light physical exertion (e.g. slow walking, mild stretching, washing dishes 1-3 times a week)
- Moderately active – moderate physical exertion (e.g. brisk walking, cleaning house, gardening)
- Very active – heavy physical exertion (e.g. walking upstairs, jogging, running, jumping rope, playing sports 6-7 days a week)
- Extremely active – intensive physical exertion (e.g. very difficult exercises, sports, physical job, or 2x training sessions in one day)
There are several types of online weight loss calculators which you can use to try to get an estimate of your daily caloric needs. A weight loss calculator, although not completely accurate, is a useful tool. It can give you an understanding of where you stand in comparison to others in terms of body weight, body mass, and daily calorie requirement. These online weight loss calculators will take your age, gender, body weight, height, and daily physical activities into consideration in determining the amount of weight/fat you need to lose. Online weight loss calculators also give body mass index (BMI) information, as well as your ideal healthy weight range. BMI calculators are being used to get an estimate of your body fat %.
I am, however, not much of a BMI fan as these readings can be inaccurate. For example, if you are currently engaged in a regular weight training program, the routines will not only give you a leaner appearance but will also have gained you MORE lean muscle mass, which means that when you step on the bathroom scale, you are heavier than when you first started training. This is because muscle mass is a lot denser than fat and BMI is measured using your weight and height. So a BMI calculator would falsely state that you are overweight when in fact, you have more muscle mass than fat.
What is a Skin Fold Test Caliper?
The more accurate and practical way to measure your body fat % is through skinfold testing. It is one of the best ways to check your body composition. Skinfold testing uses a tool called calipers. This can be a little uncomfortable because when your body fat percentage (%) is being tested, 4-7 skin sites on your body will need to be “pinched” to get a reading. These may include the biceps, triceps (front and back of the upper arm), the belly area (oblique), and skin folds on the back, just beneath your shoulder blade (subscapular). These millimeter measurements are then applied to various formulas which will give an estimated total of your overall body fat %. However, BMI testing done alongside caliper testing will give you a confirmation that the skinfold testing was done correctly if both readings are similar.
Losing body fat takes time, and it is very easy for people to get despondent when monthly readings are taken and their perception is not that much has shifted! However, it is completely healthy to lose between 1-2 % body fat a month. Losing weight (or more accurately body fat %) too fast can be unhealthy. When trying to lose weight, a rate of one to two pounds per week is actually recommended. The biggest culprits of weight gain are refined sugars, wheat, and alcohol – commonly known as empty calories. These calories provide no nutritional value and limiting these will create a huge difference in the numbers the weighing scale is showing you. Consuming fewer calories and burning more off through exercise (I don’t need to remind you that these should be done with a proper fat/weight loss program and nutrition plan right?) is the most efficient way to lose and keep off of unwanted weight and fats.
In summary, although, online weight loss calculators are not the most accurate way to determine body fat % measurements, they are great for giving you an overall idea of where you are at and what you need to do to reach your goals. Checking your progress regularly with a weight loss calculator is the best way to stay on track and keep you accountable too. Focus on the changes in the numbers and not on the numbers itself! What matters, really, is that you do not base your weight loss program efficacy on a weight loss calculator independently, after all, the reason we take body fat tests is to get consistent, not accurate, measurements. Stick to an effective weight training program, vary the intensity of your routines to keep your body guessing, ensure that your diet is as healthy as possible, keep tab on the amount of calories you consume and burn off, and keep a close watch on your weight loss calculator readings – and you’ll do just fine!
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