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Play the Numbers Game: Perfect Balance of Exercise and Calories for Abs

When it comes to having those six-pack abs that get attention, everyone wants them as quickly as possible. The reality is that developing a lean and defined set of abs takes time and the perfect balance of calories and exercise.

What’s Your Magic Number?

There is no universal number of calories that can help you lose weight and gain ab muscles. It’s going to vary from person to person based on gender, medical history, and experience with fitness. However, you can find your own perfect number of calories for abs with the formula below.

Start with Your BMR

Every individual needs to find their own personalized caloric intake number. Once you do, you can slightly decrease the number of calories you eat each day and increase exercise in order to burn more than you consume.

This only requires three quick steps with finding your basal metabolic rate, total daily energy expenditure, and subtracting 10% for a caloric deficit.

You start with your basal metabolic rate or BMR and the following formula:

  • Male = 66 + (6.2 × weight in pounds) + (12.7 × height in inches) – (6.76 × age in years)
  • Female = 655.1 + (4.35 × weight in pounds) + (4.7 × height in inches) – (4.7 × age in years)

Look confusing? Don’t worry! We have you covered with an example:

  • John is 17 years old. He is 5’ 10” (70 inches) and weighs 150 pounds.
  • Male = 66 + (6.2 × weight in pounds) + (12.7 × height in inches) – (6.76 × age in years)
  • 66 + (6.2 X 150) + (12.7 x 70) – (4.7 x 17)
  • 66 + (930) + (889) – (79.9)
  • = 1,805

= John should eat 1,805 calories per day to maintain his current weight without factoring in his activity level.

Now, it is time to figure out John’s total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

Next Step: Your TDEE

All you have to do is multiply your BMR by one of the activity levels below based on how active you are right now.

Activity Level 1:

  • Little or no exercise
  • TDEE = 1.2 x BMR

Activity Level 2:

  • Light exercise (1 to 3 days per week)
  • TDEE = 1.375 x BMR

Activity Level 3:

  • Moderate exercise (3 to 5 days per week)
  • TDEE = 1.55 x BMR

Activity Level 4:

  • Heavy exercise (6 to 7 days per week)
  • TDEE = 1.725 x BMR

Activity Level 5:

  • Hardcore exercise (Daily)
  • TDEE = 1.9 x BMR

Using the example from above: John has a BMR of 1,805. His current activity level is two days of exercise per week so he will use Activity Level 2.

John’s TDEE =

  • 375 x BMR
  • 375 x 1,805
  • 2,481 calories

In order to maintain his current weight at the activity level he is currently performing, John will need to consume around 2,481 calories. To make it more practical, you can look at the number like this: 2,400 to 2,500 calories per day.

Final Step: Subtract 10%

You’re not looking to stay at your current weight. You want to get lean and show off those abs! In general, you’ll want to take your TDEE and subtract it by 10%. This will place you in a caloric deficit that will help to gradually shed weight and reveal your abs.

Using the example above:

  • John’s TDEE is 2,481 calories
  • 2,481 x .10 (10%)
  • 10
  • 2,481 – 248.1 = 2,232.90

In order to gradually lose weight to show off those abs, John will have to eat between 2,200 and 2,300 each day at his current activity level.

Don’t Forget the Protein

No matter what your perfect number is, one thing you don’t want to leave out is protein. Healthy and lean proteins such as chicken and whey help to promote muscle building as you burn fat with a caloric deficit diet.

Please Note: Before following exercise routines or changing your fitness regime, please consult a certified fitness professional. Always talk with a medical practitioner before following dietary advice or taking supplements.

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