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Ask Janice
How many calories should I eat? And why do I want to know?

Getting to know how your body works is going to get you closer to being in control of your body and becoming better friends with it, which I think is a real good idea since you are going to be together for as long as you are both around. You would not want to live with someone you did not like or care for so why not think of your body as your partner?

If you are going to work on the way you eat so you feel better and are healthier, then you need to learn how to eat healthy for the rest of your life.   A good place to start your education is getting an idea of what your caloric needs are to maintain, lose or gain weight.  A method called The Harris-Benedict Equation is an excellent formula used to estimate the daily calorie requirements using basal metabolic rate (BMR) and life style.  BMR simply put is how many calories you would burn if you stayed in bed all day. After you go through the equation the resulting number is the recommended daily caloric intake to maintain your current weight.  This equation is not perfect, but it is widely accepted and used by many fitness experts.  The Harris-Benedict formula provides you with a tool that may assist you to control your weight or lose weight by maintaining or reducing your daily caloric intake to a number that is lower than the end result of the equation.

The real idea is getting to know more about “you” and having a better sense of how to take care of yourself. One thing you might already know, the more muscle tissue you have the higher your BMR which results in a higher number at the end of the equation, which then results in a higher caloric demand to maintain your body weight. That means the more muscles you have versus fat, the more you get to eat. It’s all about metabolism not necessarily aging.

I want you to think of your body as if it’s an engine similar to a Ferrari, a well tuned fine machine (you pick the color; I say red what the heck)? The higher and hotter you rev the more gasoline you need and the better-quality of fuel you will demand and desire. That means as you exercise and eat better your body will transform from a clunker to a leaner meaner machine. Your whole mentality changes because your body and your mind are one and they want to work together.  It all starts with some knowledge and desire.

Determine Your Daily Caloric Daily Needs

Step 1 – Calculating BMR

BMR calculation for men BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.76 x age in years )
BMR calculation for women BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )

Step 2 – Applying the Harris-Benedict Principle

Little to no exercise Daily calories needed= BMR x 1.2
Light exercise (1-3 days per week) Daily calories needed= BMR x 1.375
Moderate exercise (3-5 days per week) Daily calories needed= BMR x 1.55
Heavy exercise (6-7 days per week) Daily calories needed= BMR x 1.725
Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts) Daily calories needed= BMR x 1.9

Step 3 – What to do with this number

The number that you now have will tell you your calorie needs for weight maintenance.

In step 3 you will adjust this number up or down, depending on your weight loss or gain goals.

  • For weight loss, subtract 500 calories per day from your number in step 2
  • For weight maintenance, do nothing; just use the number from step2.
  • For weight gain, add 250 to 300 calories per day to your number from step 2.

How do I know what I am eating?

Here is couple resources on-line to get you started. I suggest keeping a journal so you can track your caloric intake. This will become an easier task because you will find out that you generally only eat about 20 to 30 different items. Learning more about your choices is another important part of the education.


www.calorielab.com this one also has calorie burned