Monday, September 27, 2010

Calculating your Calorie Needs

Eating too many calories will eventually do a number on your waistline, but not eating enough will leave you mopey and moody!

How do you know how much food your body needs?

In a perfect world, we would all be able to rely on our hunger and satiety signals to tell us when we need to eat, and when we've eaten enough to properly fuel our bodies.

However, that perfect world doesn't include hormones, stress, or super models sexily chowing big macs on t.v.

These confounders can make it hard to tell exactly how much energy is enough for our bodies. Are we really hungry, or is that urge to munch a result of something else?

This post will give you the tools to calculate your daily calorie needs.

To do this, a dietitian first calculates the calories you'd require to literally stay in bed all day (your BMR).

The BMR equations are:
Women: 655 + (4.35 x weight in lbs) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in yrs)
Men: 66 + (6.23 x weight in lbs) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in yrs)

Now, for those of us planning on getting out of bed today (no judgement), we need to account for the calories we are going to burn in movements we make throughout the day.

To do this, multiply your
BMR by:
  • 1.2 if you get little to no exercise
  • 1.375 if you get light exercise 1-3 days/week
  • 1.55 if you get moderate exercise 3-5 days/week
  • 1.725 if you exercise hardcore 6-7 days/week
  • 1.9 if you have a very physical job and exercise hardcore daily on top of that (haha...right...)

The resulting number is an estimate of how many calories you need per day to fuel your body!

For weight loss of one lb. per week, either subtract 500 calories/day from that number or add in enough exercise to burn the extra 500.

For weight gain of one lb. per week, add 500 cals/day, preferably from lean protein, whole grains, and produce.

So...there it is. The secret.

P.S. No need to do all this fancy shmancy math by hand. Here's an easy-to-use online
BMR Calculator

Now before you get all anal on me, I would like to stress that calorie counting is not necessary for weight loss. However, if you would like to get a better estimate of your needs, this may be a useful tool!

So go ahead, re-evaluate that 8 P.M. tummy growl, and do what you must.

I promise I won't look :)

Peace, Love, and Veggies,

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