We are still a baby blog but in the past few posts I have had to explain how to figure out how many calories a person should be eating, so I figure it’s time to just explain it straight out (and then have somewhere to send people when they inevitably ask again)

Everyone needs a different amount of calories per day depending on their goals, their activity level, thier sex, age and size.  For some reason, women’s magazines like to use the nice round number of 1600, which they seem to have just snatched out of thin air (or maybe it’s the average, I don’t know) but it isn’t accurate for most people.  Different people have different needs, so here’s how to find out yours.

First you must calculate you BMR (basal metabolic rate) which is how many calories it takes to keep your body alive and functioning: breathing, digesting, blood pumping, etc.

To calculate you BMR:

BMR= 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)

Now, you have to adjust this total to your activity level. The more active you are, the more calories you need to fuel your body. Based on the levels below, adjust your BMR to your activity level:

  • If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : BMR x 1.2
  • If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days a week): BMR x 1.375
  • If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days a week):
    BMR x 1.55
  • If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) BMR x 1.725
  • If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports and physical job or 2x training):
    BMR x 1.9

The total is the amount of calories you should eat per day to maintain your current weight.

If your goal is to lose weight, you will subtract 500 calories from this total. There are 3,500 calories in a pound, so for safe, steady weight loss, you will have to account for those calories by creating a 3,500 calorie deficit per week. Cutting 500 calories per day will get you to that deficit. Do not, however, cut any more calories than that, for your metabolism will slow due to lack of fuel and you’ll end up storing those calories as fat for later use.

DISCLAIMER: Just like I said before, every body is different, so there is going to be slight variation.  I tell you this not to distrust the equation but to not obsess over calories.  The number you end up with is a number to keep in mind: as long as you stay around that number, you will be fine.  Calories aren’t everything, the quality of your food is also important, so don’t live and die by the exact number of calories in everything you put in your mouth.  The goal is over all fitness, which includes your emotional and mental health, so keep it in perspective.

Ready to start your revolution?