Thursday, December 23, 2010

How Many Calories Should I Eat Per Day? Basal Metabolic Rate, Who? Caloric Intake for Dummies

In order to really grasp what my body needs to lose weight I have to figure out just how many calories my body needs to burn to actually burn a pound of fat??  I really had no clue.  I found two different answers.  One was an estimate guessing around 3500 calories to burn one pound of fat.  Another source said it was exactly 4218 calories to burn a pound of fat.  So how do I go about burning anywhere close to 4218 calories?

I need to find out what my caloric intake needs are first.  (Yes your body needs calories just to do simple functions like breathing). 

I always hear a general assumption of 1500 calories to lose weight.  Really, it depends on my weight and height.  So what weight and height is right for me?? 

I did some searching and discovered that there is actually a math formula for discovering this magical number.  Perfect...........I am horrible at math!?!?  At first glance I was even more terrified.

655 + (4.3 x weight in lbs.) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years) = basic caloric intake

I know it looked like way too much going on but I tackled it slowly and broke it down so it wasn't so overwhelming.  I will break it down to show you at 185 lbs. just what my total caloric intake should be for the day.  (Remember to find inches you simply multiply number of feet by 12)

Lets start with the basics:

I am 185lbs so that goes with the first problem.

Next I am 5' 8" or 5 x 12 = 60 + 8 = 68 inches tall

Last one was easy I am 28 years old.

So plugging those numbers in my equation looked like this:

655 + (4.3 x 185) + (4.7 x 68) - ( 4.7 x 28) = 1638.5 calories

Next you should figure out how active you are.  I chose the moderate activity because I try to make it to the gym 4 times a week.  So I should add 323.4 calories to my 1638.5 calories

323.4 calories + 1638.5 calories = 1961.9 calories can be consumed per day for my height and weight

You may think I could stop right there however.....I am trying to fit back into my "Skinny Jeans" so I need to burn at least 500 calories per day or I need to consume 500 calories less per day.  This will allow for a 1 - 2 lb loss per week depending on how much I really burn.  Obviously burning more or eating less calories will get me closer to the 2 lbs per week.

Realisticly looking at the situation I usually can last 30 minutes on a stepper, elliptical, or treadmill, and usually results in somewhere between 200-250 calories burned.  One time I walked on a treadmill for 1 hour and burned a little over 400.  So the goal is manageable with exercise but what about the days I am resting from the gym.  Those are the days I really want to Eat 500 less calories.

So my total Caloric Consumption Per Day (Calories Consumed per Day) on my days of rest should be 1961.9 - 500 = 1461.9

To keep it easy across the board I am going to shoot for that amount even on the days I excercise, that way it puts me closer to the 2 lbs per week mark. 

I went a step further and totalled up my caloric intake for each GOAL mark I am aiming for.  By setting realistic goals I am setting up my confidence levels and this should be successful.  My GOAL is to lose 5 lbs.  When I have lost 5 lbs. I then focus on losing another 5 lbs.  I am shooting for 2 lbs. every week.  Which means 1 week can be a 1 lb. week for a goal of every three weeks to lose 5 lbs.  I am really waiting to fit into my "skinny jeans" so I am not going to be stressing over a scale.  I think this is important because I am going to be doing toning excersises which can produce muscle and I don't want to be too frustrated over a number.  I can tell when I am losing weight.  My clothes start to fit better, maybe it's time to put on a smaller size.  I can see my stomach getting smaller and my thighs start to look pretty good.  I focus more on how do I feel as opposed to what does the scale tell me. 

Remember, your body naturally burns calories while breathing, and you probably do some light exercising without even realizing it.  Walking, Vaccuming, Ironing, etc.  So don't be so hard on yourself if you aren't making it to the gym as often as you would like.  You are still burning calories doing everyday things.

Check out this Calories Burned Estimator!

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