Stop guessing the figure and learn how to calculate it … It’s easy!
There is no standard answer about the amount of calories a person requires, since it depends on many factors, such as your sex, your weight, your goals to lose or gain weight, your height , your age, your level of activity and your metabolism. The good thing is that you can calculate the amount of calories you need using some simple calculations.
When Katy wanted to lose weight , she followed the same diet that had made her lose 9 kilos (about 20 pounds) to her sister. But to his surprise, his weight remained almost the same. He did not understand the reason, until his sister made him see the difference. While Katy led a completely sedentary life, her sister went regularly to the gym and jogged daily. Katy then had to make adjustments in her diet and physical activity to achieve her goal. And there are many diets and strategies to control weight, but they are all based on an elementary equation: the calories you eat versus the ones you burn.
The more muscle mass you have in your body, the more calories you need to maintain it . That is the reason why men tend to need more calories than women, young people more than older people and active people more than sedentary people.
Age, on the other hand, steals muscle mass. After 45 years, the average person tends to lose 10% of their muscle mass per decade, which is replaced by fat. The metabolism also slows down with age , and the body usually needs fewer calories. Hence the importance of physical activity. Exercise speeds up metabolism, burns fat and increases muscle mass.
What are calories and what are they for?
They are the energy that comes from food, and your body continually requires them to function. The carbohydrates (sugars), fats and proteins contain calories, and are the main sources of energy for your body. Proteins and carbohydrates have about 4 calories per gram, and fats have about 9 calories per gram.
Regardless of where they come from, the calories you eat are converted into physical energy … or stored in your body as fat. Those stored calories remain in your body, unless you use them to make it work, to reduce your consumption or to increase your physical activity.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) lists three general levels of activity, which helps you determine how many calories you need:
- Sedentary people Your lifestyle includes only light physical activity.
- Moderately active people They perform physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles a day, or 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity, in addition to daily activities.
- Active people They perform 60 minutes or more of moderate physical activity, in addition to their daily activities.
There are also people who play sports or do stronger physical activities, and burn more calories . In any case, to calculate the calories your body needs, the first step is to know your basal metabolic rate.
How can you determine your basal metabolic rate or BMR?
The basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy (or calories) your body needs to function while you are sleeping or remain at rest, which must be only enough to allow you to “work” your vital organs (heart, lungs) , brain, liver, nervous system, etc.). In order to calculate your ideal calorie intake, it is essential that you determine your TMB beforehand. For that, you need to know your age, your height and your weight . Once you have calculated your TMB as explained below, use the number obtained and an estimate of your physical activity to determine the number of calories you should eat according to your lifestyle. Dietitians use this formula, called the Harris-Benedict principleto calculate the TMB. Take out your calculator or use the calculator application on your cell phone (mobile) and do the following:
First: calculate your TMB
- Women: 655 + (4.7 × height in inches) + (4.35 × weight in pounds) – (4.7 × years of age). If you prefer to use centimeters and kilos, the formula is: 655 + (1.8 × height in cm) + (9.6 × weight in kilos) – (4.7 × years of age).
- Men: 66 + (12.7 × height in inches) + (6.23 × weight in pounds) – (6.8 × years of age). If you prefer to use centimeters and kilos, use this formula : 66 + (5 × height in cm) + (13.7 × weight in kilos) – (6.8 × years of age).
The number you get is your TMB.
Second: calculate the calories you need to maintain your basal metabolic rate
For both sexes:
- If you barely do physical activity: the TMB you have calculated × 1.2.
- If you exercise lightly 1 to 3 times a week: your TMB × 1.375.
- If you exercise moderately for 3 to 5 days per week: your TMB × 1.55.
- If you exercise hard 6 to 7 days per week: your TMB × 1.725.
- If you exercise extreme 6 to 7 days per week: your TMB × 1.9.
And that’s it: the number you get from this multiplication indicates the amount of calories you must eat to maintain the weight you have.
And what do I do with that number?
If you want to lose weight, you should eat less; If you want to gain weight, you should eat more. Never eat below your TMB (unless you are under medical supervision). It is not healthy and it is even dangerous.
As you can see, calculating your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and the calories you need to maintain or lose weight is not difficult, and you can do it on your own to determine how many calories you should consume per day. This will make it easier for you to delineate a diet, a plan of what you should eat: whether you want to maintain your weight, raise or lower. Remember that consuming healthy foods that help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight is one of the most important things for your physical well-being and for your health. Of course, if you have doubts, a qualified professional can advise you.