We all know that human beings run on calories. The calories we eat can come from a number of different sources, primarily from macronutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Whenever we think of losing weight, the first idea that comes to mind is to watch our calories. Most of us don’t even know what a calorie is or how many we might need.
A calorie is simply a measure of food as energy. Ideally, to maintain a normal body weight, you should consume only as many calories as your body burns. To lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than your body burns. And unsurprisingly, when you consume more calories than you burn, you gain weight. Therefore, it is important to know how many calories you need.
Use the following formula to calculate how many calories you should consume each day to meet your energy needs. This will determine how many calories you need to lose or maintain your weight. These are guidelines, not absolute numbers to live by. People are different, you determine how many calories you need, how many you actually consume:
Basic calorie needs
First, determine your basic caloric needs. Also known as resting metabolic rate, it is the number of calories needed to keep your body fully functioning.
Take your healthy weight (or ideal body weight) and multiply it by 10 (female) or 11 (male). You can find a healthy weight range chart on page 12 of my book Anti-Aging and You. This number that results from multiplying your healthy weight by 11 or 10 is your Basic Calorie Need.
Activity Calorie Needs
Next, you need to find out your activity calorie needs by determining your activity level from the descriptions below. Then multiply your basic caloric needs by the corresponding percentage.
• Sedentary (20%): You sit, you drive. lying down or standing in one place most of the day. Multiply by 0.20.
• Slightly active (30%): Walk but no more than two hours a day. Multiply by 0.30.
• Moderately active (40%): Sits very little. your garden; you dance, do a lot of housework, and take exercise classes. Multiply by 0.40.
• Very Active (50%): You are active in a physical sport or in a labor-intensive job, such as construction. Multiply by 0.5.
calories for digestion
Now you want to calculate how many calories you need to digest and absorb the nutrients. Take your basic calorie needs and add it to your activity calorie needs. Then take that number and multiply it by .10. This will determine your caloric needs for digestion.
Total Calorie Needs
Finally, add your basic calorie needs, your activity calorie needs, and your calorie needs for digestion and absorption of nutrients from your food. This number represents your total energy needs in calories.
This is the number of calories you can eat each day to lose or maintain weight. The actual number of calories that works for you depends on how much exercise you decide to do when you start making lifestyle changes. Never set a daily calorie level that provides less than ten calories per pound of your current weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, your average calorie count for the day should be no less than 1,500 calories. The following are the caloric requirements for the average person in each group.
Where are you?
1,600 calories: Necessary for many sedentary women and some older adults.
2,200 calories: Needed by most kids, teens, active women, and many sedentary men.
2,800 calories: Needed by teens, many active men, and some very active women.
Although most of us have busy schedules and don’t have time to count calories and measure portions, with a little preparation and knowledge, there is no need to count calories. You just need to know how many servings of each macronutrient you should be eating daily.