Thursday, May 24, 2012

Your body needs a minimum number of calories to have enough energy to be healthy, which is called your resting metabolic rate. By figuring your resting metabolic rate, you can determine the amount of calories your body needs just to keep your heart pumping, your brain thinking, your kidneys clearing, and all your other body systems operating properly.

1. Calculate your body’s basic calorie needs.

To do so, take your healthy weight (if you don’t know it, choose a midrange weight from the healthy weight range chart in Chapter 2), or the weight you want to be, and multiply it by 10 if you’re a woman or 11 if you’re a man. (Men get more calories in their calculations because they tend to be taller and have a higher ratio of muscle to fat than women.)

(Healthy weight) × (10 or 11) = Your basic calorie needs

So, for example, if you’re a woman who is 5-feet, 5-inches, your weight goal may be 140 pounds. Using the formula, 140 × 10 = 1,400, which amounts to your basic calorie needs for a day.

Along with your basic calorie needs, the next three steps can help you figure out the maximum number of calories you can eat while you’re trying to get to your goal weight.

2. Figure out how many calories you need for the amount of exercise you get.

Read the following descriptions and then multiply your basic calorie needs from the previous section by the percentage that matches your activity level.

Sedentary (20 percent): You sit, drive, lie down, or stand in one place for most of the day and don’t do any type of formal exercise. Multiply by 0.20.

Light Activity (30 percent): You walk for exercise, up to two hours every day. Multiply by 0.30.

Moderate Activity (40 percent): You take exercise classes, dance, do a lot of housework, swim, or ride a bicycle most days. You do very little sitting. Multiply by 0.40.

Heavy Activity (50 percent): You play physical sports, have a labor-intensive job, or engage in heavy workouts at the gym almost every day. Multiply by 0.50.

(Basic calorie needs) × (Percent activity level) = Activity calorie needs

To continue with the example, take your basic calorie needs (1,400) and multiply that figure by .40. (Just suppose that you take a couple exercise classes a week and go with your kids for a couple of bike rides a week.)
Your activity calorie needs are 560.

3. Figure out how many calories you need for normal digestion and metabolism of food.

Yes! It’s true! You burn calories digesting and absorbing the food you eat. Add your basic calorie needs from Step 1 and your activity calorie needs from Step 2, and then multiply the total by 10 percent (0.10).

(Basic calorie needs) + (Basic activity needs) × 0.10 = Calories for digestion

With the example, your basic calorie needs (1,400) plus your activity needs (560) equals 1,960 calories. Multiply that by 0.10 and you get the calories you burn for digestion: 196.

4. Add your basic calorie needs, your activity calorie needs, and your calorie needs for digestion.

The resulting figure represents your total energy needs in calories.

(Basic calorie needs) + (Activity calorie needs) + (Digestion calorie needs) = Total calorie needs

To finish the previous example, your basic calorie needs (1,400) + your
activity needs (560) + your calorie needs for digestion (196) = your total calorie needs (2,156).

This number - your total calorie needs - represents the number of calories you can eat every day to maintain a healthy weight at the activity level you’ve chosen. When you’re trying to lose weight to get to a healthy weight, this number is a good guide to the maximum number of calories you can eat on any given day while you’re dieting. But remember: This number is just a guide. The actual number of calories that works for you depends on how much you exercise as well as other individual factors, such as your age and your individual metabolic rate.

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