Monday, March 1, 2010

Calories Needed Per Day

Let’s calculate the number of calories needed per day and how you can burn enough of them. Total calorie needs are determined by a number of factors. First and foremost is basal metabolic rate. Basal metabolic rate is the amount of calories that you would need if you laid flat in your bed, awake, but just looking at the ceiling all day. Some other factors that influence calorie needs are gender, age and muscle mass. Another obvious factor is exercise. There is also an element called voluntary movement. This is not exercising, but walking from one room to another, for example.

Calories Needed per Day doing nothing?

Here I want to focus on the most important factor: basal metabolic rate. This is the number of calories needed per day at rest for those functions that are not under your voluntary control. This involuntary calorie burning includes your heart rate, digestion, maintenance of blood pressure and body temperature. If I’m in a room that’s 70 degrees, for example, the amount of heat that I produce to keep my body at 98.6 degrees requires energy. Digesting food and breathing also needs a significant amount of calories.

Basal metabolic rate is responsible in most of us for approximately 60% to 75% of the calories needed per day. That's significat, isn't it? Now, what determines your basal metabolic rate? It is your muscle mass. As you would expect, men have a higher basal metabolic rate than women.

Another source of calorie burning is something called the thermic effect of food. This is the energy you need to digest your food. The thermic effect of food depends on the foods that you eat. This factor generally accounts for 10% to 30% of your total energy expenditure. If you eat a meal that is pure protein, it’s going to give you a thermic effect of about 25% of the meal’s total calories.

Let’s talk about this in practical terms, though. Are there many occasions where you are only eating protein? Maybe if you are on a low carbohydrate diet you might (which I don't recommend), but the reality is that that’s not practical for most of us. What we can do practically to increase the amount of calories that we need to digest our meals? Exercise can augment or facilitate this calorie burning.

With the exception of people who are obese, moderate exercise (that’s the key!!) some minutes after a meal is going to help increase the thermic effect of food. Certainly that’s not often terribly practical. If you had a very large meal you might not feel like going out and jogging. You may try at least to go for a walk, however.

Calculate Calories Needed per Day

How do you calculate the number of calories needed per day? Your total energy expenditure is determined by your basal metabolic rate, thermic effect of food and physical activity. As a reminder, basal metabolic rate accounts for 60% to 75% of your total energy expenditure. Thermic effect of food accounts for anywhere between 10% and 30%. Physical activity accounts for the remainder 15% to 30%.

Let’s see the formula to estimate your basal energy expenditure. First you need to calculate your ideal bodyweight. You may say that this ideal bodyweight doesn’t apply to you: “I have big bones!”, or “I’m more muscular than the average person”. I understand your concerns, but still going to give you the equation, just stay with me. This equation is called the Hamwi equation.

This is how you do it: allow 100 pounds for the first five feet of height, and 5 pounds(women) or 6 pounds (men) for each inch after. For example, if you’re height is 5 feet 4, you allow 100 pounds for the first 5 feet of height, and 5 pounds(women) or 6 pounds (men) for each of those 4 inches above five feet (that equals 20 for women). So, you’re ideal weight would be 120 pounds. You may not like that number, considering that you are more muscular than that, but we’re just going to use that number to figure out your calorie needs.

This ideal bodyweight times ten would give you the calories needed per day for your basal metabolic rate. Let’s say your ideal bodyweight is 120 pounds, times 10, that’s 1200. This means that your basal metabolic rate burns 1200 calories daily. If you’re laying flat on the bed, looking at the ceiling, you’re going to need 1200 calories.

Keep in mind there are just estimates, plus or minus. We have to add to this amount purposeful activity. Non-exercise voluntary movement may be the decisive factor in calorie burning. People who are constantly in motion burn more calories. This may be the secret weapon in terms of weight management. I’m sure you know someone who can eat whatever he wants and never gain weight. Yeah, those…

Set a timer and get up and move every 15 minutes. That can be a really good strategy in the long run. Moving around also refreshes your mind. So, this is a very healthy habit you can adopt.

When it comes to calorie balance, most people outeat their exercise. There are many methods for calculating calories needed per day for exercise, but generally it’s 100 calories per mile. If you go out to walk your dog for three miles, you burn around 300 calories. If you eat a huge chocolate cookie, that’s 450 calories, you outate your exercise!! Most folks really don’t account for the amount of calories they are taking in.

Most public agencies recommend to get 10000 steps per day. There are about 2000 steps per mile. So, in a 10000 steps day you might burned an additional 500 calories. Most folks, when they walk or exercise, overestimate the value of that.

Exercise and movement can be quantified by adding about 30% to your basal metabolic rate needs if you’re sedentary. What does sedentary mean? Sedentary means that other than activities of daily living you are not going out and walking or doing anything that’s purposeful and physical. If your calories needed per day by your basal metabolic rate are 1200, you can add about 360 calories. That’s not really a lot of food in today’s environment.

If you’re unbelievable active, meaning that you have a PHYSICALLY ACTIVE JOB (waitress, for example), AND you go out and get purposeful exercise, you can essentially double your calories needed per day by your basic metabolic functions. So, if your basic calories needed per day are 1200, you can double that to 2400.

Most of us, however, are going to sit at the middle of the road. This means you are moderately active. You may have a desk job but you go out and get regular activity. If this is your case, you can add 50% to the calories needed per day by your basal metabolic rate. In our example of 1200, total calories needed per day would be 1800.

Now, YOU should calculate how many calories you really need and stay within that range!

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