Monday, February 22, 2010

Calorie counter: how much should I stuff my face?

So you've decided to brush up your eating habits, now what? In order to effectively jump-start your healthy lifestyle and keep it up, it's important to know the basics!

Obviously, step one is beginning to read your food labels to understand their nutritional value. This will allow you to find a balance during the day between levels of fat, sodium, fiber, and so on. But what about calories? Few realize that a typical nutrition label is based on a 2000 calorie diet - calories that not everyone needs (or sometimes, isn't enough)!

I stumbled across a FABULOUS tool to calculate how many calories you should consume in a day. Keep in mind that, regardless of caloric intake, a body still needs a balance in all areas of nutrition; calories are just one measure of that.

1. Calculate your basal metabolic rate:*

FEMALE: 665 + (4.35 x weight in lbs) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)

MALE: 66 + (6.23 x weight in lbs) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)

Or click here!

2. A few further calculations can help you meet your goal intake. Measure your level of activity (honesty is key here, lying to yourself will only keep you from that great look) and use the appropriate formula.

Sedentary (little to no exercise): BMR x 1.2
Lightly active (light exercise, 1-2 times/week): BMR x 1.375
Moderately active (moderate exercise, 3-5 times/week): BMR x 1.55
Very active (intense exercise, 6-7 times/week): BMR x 1.725
Extremely active (intense exercise or physical labor): BMR x 1.9

3. For weight maintenance, this is your goal number. For weight loss, reduce this number by 15-20%.

I remember in high school asking my health teacher if eating more could help you lose weight if you weren't eating enough; she looked at me like I was crazy. Believe it or not, though, eating too little is almost as detrimental as eating too much. When you eat too sparingly - or skip meals - your body goes into "starvation mode" and begins to store calories and fat to protect itself from, well, dying. So no, you can't live off 100 Calorie Packs for the rest of your life; it's okay to eat!

Reassuring, isn't it? :)
*Thanks to The Pageant Place for this info!

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