Nowadays, aesthetic standards have changed and women and men alike are trying to get slimmer. Working out is great for your figure, as well as your health, but if you want to lose weight as soon as possible, it is essential to be careful with what you eat as well. Therefore, one of the questions that are concerning most people who are trying to say goodbye to a few pounds is: “How many calories should I eat?” There is no general, simple answer, one that can be applied to all the people in the world, because the appropriate number of calories depends on several factors, such as:
- Your general health status.
Why do we need calories? Can we cut down on them as much as possible to lose weight faster?
Calories provide energy, and our body needs energy in order to function and survive. For example, 20% of the energy goes directly to our brain! Absolutely every part of our body needs energy, every second of our life – we need it to breathe, to walk, to talk, and to think; we even consume energy in our sleep! So the next time you are saying to yourself: “Oh, I think I will cut down on my calories even more”, just remember that they are keeping us alive and even if you do not exercise at all, you still need them.
So, how many calories should I eat after all?
If you want to lose weight safely and see how many calories you would need, you can look for a calorie calculator online. Numerous health-related websites offer such calculators, allowing you to find out the exact caloric intake you need according to your goals and to some or all of the factors listed above. However, not all these calculators are accurate, so, if you don’t know which one you should trust, you could do your own math using the Harris-Benedict equation.
First of all, you have to find out your BMR (or basic metabolic rate) and, for that, you have to take into account your weight, height and age. Then, the BMR has to be multiplied by a special number that represents your level of physical activity, giving you the daily number of calories you should take in.
There are two versions of the equation, personalized for men and women:
- For male adults (which burn fat faster than women), the BMR is:
66 + (6.23 * body weight in pounds) + (12.7 * height in inches) – (6.76 * age)
- For female adults, the BMR value becomes:
65.5 + (4.35 * body weight in pounds) + (4.7 * height in inches) – (4.7 * age)
After finding out your BMR, you have to multiply the value by a number from the following list, judging by your lifestyle:
- 1.2 if you do not exercise at all or very little – sedentary lifestyle;
- 1.375 if you exercise 1-3 times a week, but you always keep it light – slightly active lifestyle;
- 1.55 if you are used to exercising moderately 3-5 times a week – moderately active lifestyle;
- 1.725 if you work out seriously (heavy work outs), 6-7 times a week – active lifestyle;
- 1.9 if you work out daily, two times a day, and do very heavy work outs – very active lifestyle.
Note that, even though it does take important factors into consideration, this equation has its limitations, because the BMR does not differentiate between people with more or less muscle mass. You could adjust the numbers according to your specific situation, but it is always better to ask a nutritionist for advice, as he can give you the most accurate answer after performing various tests.
Counting calories is a good method to help you reach a healthy weight, but it is not enough. If you want to lose weight, you need, first of all, a healthy, balanced diet and lots of exercise too! So, find out what your calorie intake should be, but do not focus only on counting calories when building your weight loss plan.