I am not a big fan of counting calories, but a lot of people are into it, and for many people it can be really helpful, particularly if you have nutrition or weight goals in mind.
Basically, your daily caloric intake should equal your BMR, plus some wiggle room for activity.
Sooo….what the heck is a BMR?
BMR is your basal metabolic rate. Your basal what a who now rate? Your basal metabolic rate refers to the number of calories your body burns just by living. Breathing, sitting, standing, sleeping, eating, just living your life. It is the amount of energy you burn through daily.
So, if you eat the same number of calories you’re burning through, you will maintain your weight. If you eat more calories than you’re burning, you will gain weight. If you eat less, lose weight. It’s really actually very simple. Once you exceed the calories you burn by 3,500 calories, you gain one pound of fat. If you burn 3,500 calories more than you’re eating, you lose one pound of fat. So, if you’re burning 1,700 calories a day and eating 2,200 calories per day (without working out or being active at all), you will gain one pound in one week. Ideally. Research indicates that it may not be quite as simple as that, but in many cases it likely is.
A lot of people think that everyone’s BMR is 2,000 calories/day. That’s where the notion of a 2,000 calorie diet comes from. That’s wrong. Everyone has a different BMR based on gender, age, height, weight, muscle, genetics, and the list goes on.
Here’s how to (roughly) calculate yours using something called the Harris-Benedict Equation:
Women = 655 + (9.6 x weight) + (1.7 x height) – (4.7 x age)
Men = 66 + (13.7 x weight) + (5 x height) – (6.8 x age)
This equation uses height in centimeters and weight in kilograms. To convert weight, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms. To convert height, multiply your height in inches by 2.54 to get your height in centimeters.
Example: A 5’7’’, 140 pound, 24-year-old girl (Hi! That's me!):
Height: 67 inches x 2.54 = 170.18 cm
Weight: 140 lbs ÷ 2.2 = 63.64 kg
655 + (9.6 x 63.64) + (1.7 x 170.18) – (4.7 x 24) = 1,442 calories/day
Therefore, she should not eat more than 1,452 calories per day to lose weight, if she is not active.
But...I am active....
Based on your lifestyle, you have some room to add calories.
If you're relatively active, multiply your BMR by 1.1-1.3 to get the number of calories you should be eating.
If you're very active, multiply it by 1.3-1.5.
If you're extremely active (daily workouts, high intensity), multiply it by 1.5-1.7.
To reach your goals without counting calories, I recommend seeing a dietitian to help you not have to worry about them!
So who did that calculation? What’s your BMR?!