How to ‘budget’ your weekly calories

written by Philip Stefanov  |  SEPTEMBER 13, 2022

Allow me to present a small thought experiment. Imagine that you’re living on a budget of $500 per week. How would you spend your money? (Yes, I know it is an odd question to ask at the start of a fitness newsletter but bare with me.)

Would you avoid unnecessary spending and eat at home, or would you buy things on a whim and splurge every time you get your weekly pay?

Maybe you’d start with no financial discipline but decide to change your ways after ending up broke several weeks in a row. You’d start taking the bus instead of your car, cancel unnecessary subscriptions, and cook more often.

The weekly budget’s limitations would make you more resourceful, creative, and thoughtful about where your money goes. Instead of opening your wallet on a whim, you would learn to ask questions like, “Do I genuinely need this?”

Now, imagine having a weekly budget for your calories. Instead of eating as much as you feel, you calculate your calorie needs and put together a weekly limit that aligns with your goals.

For instance, if you want to lose fat and calculate 2,500 calories to be the correct number, your weekly budget would be 17,500 calories (2,500 * 7). So long as you eat around 17,500 calories weekly, you will make steady progress.

Setting a weekly calorie budget is beneficial for two reasons:

First, tracking weekly calories provides more flexibility. For example, if you plan to go out during the weekend, you will probably want to enjoy more food and not worry about every calorie. So, one option is to reduce your calorie intake from Monday to Friday. That way, even if you eat more on Saturday and Sunday, you can still be on track with your goals:

Monday - 2,000 calories
Tuesday - 2,000 calories
Wednesday - 2,000 calories
Thursday - 2,000 calories
Friday - 2,000 calories
Saturday - 3,750 calories
Sunday - 3,750 calories

Second, dietary constraints are beneficial for becoming more thoughtful with your food choices. You’re more likely to pick healthier foods because they typically have fewer calories and fill you up better. You can still enjoy treats like cookies and ice cream, but you will consume them more sparingly in favor of more filling foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, etc.

The Bottom Line

Calorie tracking has some drawbacks, but it can also be an excellent tool for eliminating the guesswork, making better eating decisions, and reaching goals more effectively.

Be careful not to fall into a binge-purge cycle where you overeat one day and fast for several days to compensate. Track your weekly calories to make your diet more flexible but don’t abuse the tactic because it can lead to issues.

Thank you for taking the time. Until next week,


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