Friday, July 10, 2009

Determining Your Energy Needs

By Teri Clark

In order to know how many calories to eat per day, you have to determine how much energy you expend in a day and how these are expended based on your body. Most people assume they need to eat more than they do. This, of course, leads to weight gain.

Here’s a three-step process that will help you determine just how many calories you need per day to maintain, lose, or gain weight.

Step 1: Finding Your BMI
Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is an estimate of the amount of stored fat you have on your body. Understanding your BMI will help you determine if you need to lose or gain weight, or if you are healthy at your present weight.

To find your BMI,

BMI = (Weight in pounds/height in inches) x 703

Let’s look at Susan as an example. She weighs 150 pounds and is 5 ft 7 inches (67 inches). Therefore, you would divide 150 by (67 x 67) to get .0334. Then multiply .0334 by 703 to get a BMI of 23.4. In this case, using the chart below, Susan is in the Balance Zone.

Once you’ve determined your own BMI, look at the chart below to help you determine if you need to gain weight, lose weight, or maintain your weight.

Below 18.5 - Underweight
18.5 to 24.9 - Balance Zone
25 to 29.9 - Overweight
30 plus - Obese

Step two: Determining Your Basal Metabolic Rate

The BMI is a good starting point but does not take into account things such as activity level, age, environment, or muscle mass. Based solely on BMI, an athlete in great shape may show as being overweight or obese. That is why it is important to go one step further and determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR).

Your BMR tells how quickly you burn calories while at rest. Your BMR consists of 60 to 75% of the calories you burn each day for basic body functioning. Knowing this number will help you determine your actual calories needs.

To find your BMR:

1. Multiply your weight in pounds by 4.3.

2. Multiply your height in inches by 4.7.

3. Multiply your age in years by 4.7.

4. Add the answers of numbers 1 and 2 together and then subtract the answer of number 3.

5. Now add 655 to the answer of number 4.

Let’s look again at Susan again. Susan is 35 years old, therefore:

Her first number is 150 times 4.3 = 645
Her second number is 67 times 4.7 = 314.9
Her third number is 35 times 4.7 = 164.5

Now we add the first two numbers to get 959.9. Now we subtract the third number to get 795.4. Finally, we add 655 to get 1450.4.

Step Three: Determining Your Activity Level

The last step is to determine your activity level so that you know how many calories you burn per day. This equals the total number of calories you burn per day.

Sedentary - Desk job, little or no exercise. BMR x 1.2
Light Activity - Light exercise in one to three days per week. BMR x 1.375
Moderate Activity - Moderate exercise three to five days per week. BMR x 1.55
Very Active – Exercise six to seven days per week BMR x 1.725
Extreme – Hard endurance training daily BMR x 1.9

Let’s take one last look at Susan. Susan has a desk job but does try to get light exercise a couple of days per week. That means we take her BMR of 1450.4 and multiply it by 1.375 to get 1994.3 calories burned per day.

What Does It All Mean?

Total calories burned per day, in Susan’s case, 1994, is the amount needed to maintain her current weight of 150 pounds. If she needed to gain weight, she would increase her calories intake by 500 calories of healthy food.

If she wanted to lose weight, she would decrease her calorie intake by 250 to 300 calories and increase her exercise to burn 250 more calories per day creating a 500-calorie deficit.

By doing so, Susan would either lose or gain weight at one to two pounds per week.

Teri Clark is he author of "301 Simple Things You Can Do To Sell Your Home Now"
Learn more about Teri through poems, stories, and writing prompts at

1 comment:

Mellissa said...

Great article....I can eat more than I thought I could.