How Many Calories Does Your Body Need? [Charts]
Many people believe they know what to eat to lose weight but can’t seem to do it. Is it because they follow a strict diet with rigid rules and regulations or because they are overestimating the amount of calories they need?
The key to weight loss and maintenance is to change the way we think about what we are doing. If we think, “I am going on a diet, so I can’t eat certain things,” then the focus is on what we can’t eat instead of what we can eat. This approach leads to the feeling of deprivation and may set you up for failure. If you find this is true for you, try this technique instead:
Focus on what you can eat and learn to change your eating patterns to meet your physical and psychological needs.
Calculate Right Amount of Calories for You
The first rule in meeting your physical needs is to supply your body with the right amount of calories. Below is a formula to help figure out your calorie needs.
Your Calorie (Basic Energy) Needs Equation
|Divide your current weight by 2.2 to covert pounds to kilograms, or type the keyword phrase "convert pounds to kilograms" into the search bar of any search engine for a conversion calculator. Then, insert that number into the right equation for you from the following chart:|
|18 to 30||(15.3 x weight in kilograms) + 679||[14.7 x weight (in kilograms)] + 496|
|30 to 60||[11.6 x weight (in kilograms)] + 879||[8.7 x weight (in kilograms)] + 829|
|60 plus||[13.5 x weight (in kilograms)] + 487||[10.5 x weight (in kilograms)] + 596|
Then, multiply your answer by the activity factor that applies to you in the following activity-level table:
|Very Light||Extremely sedentary, largely bed rest||1.2–1.3|
|Light||No planned activity, mostly office work||1.5–1.6|
|Moderate||Walking, stair climbing during the day||1.6–1.7|
|Heavy||Planned vigorous activities (most athletes)||1.9–2.1|
From that number you will need to subtract 500 calories per day (3500 calories per week) to lose one pound of body fat per week.
Tips on How to Fuel Your Body Well
Equipped with the facts, you are now ready to fuel your physical needs. Start with a well-balanced diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats from nuts and seeds. Half your lunch and dinner plate should be filled with vegetables. Make sure you choose a variety of fruits and vegetables by colors such as green, red, orange or yellow. (See our recent post on antioxidants for more information.)
As you increase your intake of nutrient-packed, lower-calorie foods, you will be able to
eliminate cut back on the low-nutrient, higher-calorie choices such as fried foods, sugary drinks and high-fat, high-sugar deserts. Notice I said cut back, not eliminate. If you eat to fuel your body first (the physical), you should still be able to have some of the fun foods that are psychologically pleasing. The important thing to remember is to limit portion size and frequency of consumption.
Next, add two cups of water right before a meal to make sure you are hydrated and to help you slow down and consume smaller portions. Your goal should be to consume at least eight cups of water per day. Plan to have five or six smaller meals per day instead of one or two large meals. This should help ward off hunger and allow you to drop some weight while keeping your body properly fueled and ready perform.
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