Thursday, November 12, 2009

Calculate your caloric needs

You are what you eat...

What you eat does matter, so to that end, what should you be eating? How much depends on whether you are trying to maintain your weight, or whether you are trying to lose weight.

To estimate how many calories you need in order to maintain your weight, you will need to do a little math. By using a simple formula known as the Harris-Benedict principle, you can assess your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Then, to lose weight, you'll need to cut calories from your daily intake, or burn extra with exercise.

Calculate your BMR:
Your BMR is the amount of calories your body needs to function. We use about 60% of the calories we need each day for basic bodily functions such as breathing and digestion. Other factors that affect your BMR are height, weight, age and sex.

65 + (4.3x weight in pounds) + (4.7x height in inches) - (4.7x age in years)

66 + (6.3x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)

This formula applies only to adults!

Calculate your activity level
  • If you are sedentary; BMR x 20%
  • If you are lightly active; BMR x 30%
  • If you are moderately active (you exercise most days a week); BMR x 40%
  • If you are very active (you exercise intensely on a daily basis, or for prolonged periods; BMR x 50%
  • If you are extra active (you do hard labor, or are in athletic training); BMR x 60%

Add this number to your BMR

The result will be the amount of calories you can eat each day to maintain your current weight. If you want to lose weight, you will need to create a calorie deficit through exercise or intake reduction. You can re-calculate your BMR as your status changes.

An easy way to get lots of fiber, lower calories, and tons of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, is to eat 2-3 fresh fruits each day, and 5-6 servings of vegetables. These high water content, low caloric density options will fill you up without ruining your calorie budget.

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