Understanding Calories

I need some help understanding calories. My BMR is 1,737. My needed calories are 2,500, but my trainer bumped me down to 2,000 on work out days and 1,800 on non-workout days. If I understand this correctly, BMR is just the calories you need for your body to function and the 1,800-2,000 total calories is to accommodate normal activity for the day plus bodily function.

I’ve been eating at 1,200 calories a day. I am trying to bump it up to what my trainer wants slowly, but surely. By eating under my BMR calories, is that what my trainer is referring to as “starvation mode”? Where I’m not giving my body enough calories to function properly?

My trainer said I should never be at a deficit to lose weight and that I should always be “zeroed out”. This contradicts everything I have ever heard about losing weight. Maybe he’s just trying to get me to think about it differently. I really don’t know. Technically, I’m still at a deficit by eating under 2,500 calories, right? 2,500 calories is what I need to maintain my current weight, right?

Rather than not putting yourself in a caloric deficit, he probably means you shouldn’t eat below your BMR - which isnt a bad idea.

I understand what you are going through here. Don’t put too much in all these numbers. All that does is over complicate things. That calculactor has no idea who YOU are. To lose weight you need a slight deficit. To gain weight you need a surplus simple as that.

I have seen you post a lot about calories and diet, but nothing about activity. Diet alone will not get you anywhere but sick. I can speak from personal experience here.

Please understand that I am not trying to be rude, but you have started so many different threads on here, I don’t know if you are really looking help or just trolling.

Start a log, give your stats, and keep it all together. There are some great people on here willing to help you, but with these randoms threads nobody knows what you need help with.

I just want to understand it better. I believe this is the first actual question I asked regarding calories. All other original posts may have calorie information in it to give useful information that may help another better answer my question. I am a beginner, but I thought this question was more appropriate in the Nutrition category. If a beginner cannot understand the basics, how can you expect any beginner to hit their goals and continue to maintain goals once leaving a personal trainer?

Before I had a personal trainer I would run for 30 minutes 4-5 days a week between 4.5-5.5 mph on the treadmill. It depends on if it’s straight running or interval running. I’m seeing my trainer 3 days a week now, but I’m still incorporating his exercises and running when I’m at home. I’m a stay-at-home mom, but work part-time at home so majority of my exercise comes from my 1 hour exercise sessions. My trainer currently has me doing:

Warm up on bike for 20 minutes
Planks 30 seconds 1 set
One foot balance 30 seconds each leg 1 set
Pushups on knees 14 reps 1 set
Dumbbell flys 14 reps 1 set at 7.7 lbs.
Wall sit hold 30 seconds 1 set
Cool down on bike for 5 minutes

I alternate days with this until my trainer gives me a new set of exercises:

Warm up on bike for 20 minutes
Lateral Planks 2 sec each side 1 set
One foot balance 30 seconds each leg 1 set
Trx rows 14 reps 1 set
Close grip pushup 14 reps 1 set
Hammer curls 14 reps 1 set at 10 lbs.
Cool down on bike for 5 minutes

Okay. It is always good to understand the basics. I hope he gets you to where you want to be.

You seem to have intuited the crux of the issue here, which is that the personal training industry is besieged by charlatanry, and you are a victim. It’s not like going to the dentist, where there are reasonable minimum standards everyone has to meet. A weekend fly-by-night cert is enough for someone to legitimately title himself a ‘trainer.’ The “zeroed out” thing doesn’t make sense to you because it has no basis in science or practice or anything. A professional should be able to explain things clearly to you so that you understand your plan. A quick survey of the fitness and athletic landscape should make it plain that this is not necessarily a pursuit that selects for intellectual ability - there is nothing complicated about physical change, it is just hard, grinding work, and you have to sustain it over a long period.

Your plan looks dreadful to me. I understand people have different training philosophies, but unless you are morbidly obese or recovering from a coma, that does not look to me like something that is going to be impactful. Moreover, even if balance is something you want to improve (for a sport or whatever reason,) research is pretty clear at this point that it is not a highly trainable quality, especially in adulthood, and to the extent it is, it should be trained as specifically as possible (i.e., if you’re a figure skater, balance/proprioception training should happen in skates, on ice). Not seeing the value of standing on one leg for 30 seconds, or whatever “one foot balance” means.

In terms of your calorie issue, standard practice to lose fat would be to start 250-500 cals/day below your maintenance calorie level and adjust from there as needed. The cals this person has you eating are actually fairly reasonable, maybe a shade low, but like you said, you’ve been undereating dramatically so your metabolic rate has probably compensated a great deal. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

This is the information age…I get that people are busy but you sound intelligent. I’d say 30 minutes to an hour of research online would be enough for you to put together a far better plan for yourself than what you’ve paid this man for. The T Nation archives alone have everything you’d ever need.


I’ve been fed so much bad information that I don’t know what’s right anymore. That’s why I went to a personal trainer and trying to get good information on this site. That was the first week I had seen the PT. Today when I go see him it’s suppose to be a little more difficult. I’ll find out if it is or not. The one foot balance thing is done on this balloon ball thing. He says it helps with core strength. I’ve looked at some exercise plans like on bodybuilding.com, but I have to stick to body weight exercises that I can do at home.

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I agree there are a lot of not so good trainers out there especially at the local chain gyms in my area (notice I said in my area not to offend anyone). Anyways I decided to go to a facility that is nothing but personal trainers and it’s a lot more professionally structured. The trainers are in amazing shape themselves which helps me put my trust in them. At my first training I was put off by what he had me do because it seemed silly and I didn’t even sweat. After that session was out of the way I’m learning a lot and doing many things I see people post on here. Maybe he was testing to see what level I was at. I’m a newbie for sure and have many questions that prove it but I’m also researching like crazy!!

I would urge you to go to the main page of this site (not the forums), find the search window, and type in “bodyweight training.” I just did that and it yielded a slew of fully laid-out programs and movement compilations. I would read a bit, start with one of those programs and scale it to your capabilities as needed, trying to progress week-to-week.

Calorie and macronutrient calculation is easy once you have the hang of it. Use Myfitnesspal.com to log your food. You can find macro calculators all over the internet to get a starting point for carbs/protein/fat; I’d just start at 40%c/30%p/30%f and adjust from there (The MFP site permits you to enter these percentages and makes the process as easy as possible).

Do this on your own. I know it is daunting but your results will dramatically better and more satisfying, and you will be spared the indignity of standing on one leg on a bosu ball.

Yeah I just changed my macros. My PT said I was eating too many carbs and sugars from fruit. I used a macro calculator and it said I should be at 35% carbs, 35% protein and 30% fat. I’ll work on that and hopefully that is the reason I stopped losing weight.

I agree. There’s nothing but commercial gyms in my area. I travel an hour away to get to my PT. He’s in excellent shape and it’s not a commercial gym. It’s a small place with grass turf. He does a lot of sports related exercises. He does group training with 4-5 clients at a time, but he does give each individual personal time.

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I think if your next training session goes better then it would be a beneficial way to learn proper technique for when your working out alone. I can read and watch videos all I want but having someone to let me know if I’m doing it correctly is a huge help. As long as you take the training seriously and workout hard on your own other days it helps :slight_smile: