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You might be working out and eating right, yet you’ve still got some stubborn pounds you can’t seem to get rid of. The problem might be that you’re taking in too many calories and not burning them off fast enough to lose weight. A weight loss calculator can help you better identify the problem.
Calories are units of energy that we consume whenever we eat. We also use them as fuel to get us through the day.
The general rule is that to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you ingest, which is a little more complex than it sounds. There are multiple factors to take into consideration.
Weight loss counters are a great way to keep yourself on track with your goals, but there are a lot to choose from. Sometimes they aren’t very accurate because they don’t include all the variables needed to tell you how many calories you should eat to lose weight.
The Science Behind Weight Loss Calculators
Weight loss calculators are usually based on a mathematical formula called the Mifflin St. Jeor equation, which calculates the number of calories your body needs to function. (1) This is called the basal metabolic rate, or BMR.
Most calculators are based on weight, height, gender, and age, then they factor in lifestyle information and how much you exercise. This is where the numbers differ and what makes some weight loss calculators better than others.
If you have two guys that are the same weight, age, and height, their calories needed to lose weight might be vastly different because of how active they are. One guy might park his booty in front of the computer all day playing RPGs, while the other is standing in front of a group of students.
An accurate calculator will use the BMR, and also calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). It will include whether you are a workout monster or just dabble, and your general activity level.
It’s important not to get too obsessed with counting calories, though. There are a lot of other things to consider when embarking on your weight loss journey, and you don’t want to get obsessed.
There are plenty of studies out there that show that stressing out over what you eat can make your body put on the pounds. (2)
5 Most Accurate Weight Loss Calculators
What’s not to like about using the same calculator that scientists at the National Institute of Health use for their research? Kevin Hall, a scientist at NIH, created this awesome weight loss calculator that factors in a person’s slowing metabolism.
The NIH sees this planner as “a cutting-edge tool that will empower people to take their health into their own hands,” and it really is one of the best out there. Its algorithms have been used in many studies and found to be incredibly accurate. (3)
It starts you off by calculating your BMR, just like every other calculator, then places a value on your activity level at work or school and during leisure time.
Here’s where the awesomeness comes in.
Decide what your goal weight is, how soon you want to reach it, and what you’re willing to do to get it. Are you going to walk the stairs to the fifth floor at work instead of taking the elevator, or add thirty minutes of light jogging a day?
Maybe you don’t want to change anything at all except for your caloric intake, and that’s cool. The NIH body weight planner doesn’t judge.
The algorithm does its magic and, wallah! You get how many calories you need to maintain your current weight, how many you need to reach your goal, and how many to keep the weight off once you reach it.
The amount of energy you use up every day or total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), is an accurate way to tell how many calories you should eat to keep, gain, or lose pounds. This easy to use calculator figures it out for you.
It takes how active you are throughout the day into consideration, by giving you five levels to choose from. Whether you’re at a desk all day or box for a living, one is going to suit you.
It also adds in how intensely you exercise. Are you a couch potato or do you flood the gym with your sweat?
If you’re tempted to cheat when filling out the activity portions of the calculator, don’t. If you overestimate your activity levels, it could mess up your fitness goals.
This calculator takes it a step further and has a macro calculator to help you figure out how you should make adjustments with your diet. Along with calculating your calories, it shows you what you can the percentage of fat, protein, and carbs you should eat depending on if you are eating a high carb diet, low, or ketogenic.
If you aren’t losing weight the way you’re eating now, you can make little adjustments to your diet and see what works best.
There are so many cool things about the ScoobysWorkshop.com calculator, that we could write an entire article just about that! It does the usual BMR and TDEE calculations, but it has an optional section with features that few other calculators have.
One example is where you select your goal. Do you want to gain muscle and lose fat, bulk up, or just lose fat without adding muscle? It factors in how ripped, or not ripped, you want to be.
It asks you how many meals you eat a day, and which research model you want to use.
Most calculators are based on the Mifflin-St. Jeor equations, but the makers of this one suggests that other equations might be more accurate, depending on your body type.
If you’ve got four-pack abs and want to bump it up to a six-pack, choose the Katch-McArdle research model. If your body type is a little fluffier, the Mifflin-St. Jeor model is the one for you.
It also includes a macronutrient calculator. Some nutritionists suggest that keeping track of them instead of calories can help your diet be more successful.
Some people are very exacting. They want to know exactly how many calories they can burn if they play table tennis for 15 minutes, then binge-watch Netflix and chill for two hours afterward.
If you enjoy specificity, then this is the calculator for you. It calculates everything from carrying a baby around the house to the activity that made that baby happen.
Want to know how many calories you burn when you’re playing the piano or the guitar? It’s got the answer. How about driving a golf cart? Yep, it’s got that, too.
It’s got over 200 activities to choose from. Unlike other calories burned calculators, you can add them all together. You can get an almost exact number of calories you burned by literally everything you do in a day.
Take care with this one, though. It can get a little addicting
Sometimes simple is better, especially if you’re new to dieting. Even if you’re not, this weight loss calculator by LifeSpan can really help.
It’s so easy to use, you don’t even have to type anything in. It’s got sliders to enter your weight, height, age, lifestyle, goal weight, and asks a few other questions about how you want to get there.
In three little steps, you’ve got a detailed weight loss plan, including suggestions on a few easy ways you can obtain your goals.
When I entered my data, it showed me that I need to cut out 239 calories a day and add 49 minutes of moderate exercise to reach my goal weight by the date I chose. I could also exercise vigorously for 29 minutes and get the same results.
My favorite thing about this weight loss counter is that it shows you how easy it really can be to lose weight. It suggested that getting rid of the calories I need to remove can easily be done by not eating three oatmeal cookies, not drinking two beers, or eating two fewer chicken legs.
No problem here because I don’t eat any of this stuff, but you get the picture. It’s a good reminder that moderation can help with weight loss.