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How many calories should I eat?

Discussion in 'Nutrition' started by KaraCooks, Apr 13, 2010.

  1. KaraCooks

    KaraCooks Senior

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    Probably the most common questions on the site are about calories: Am I eating enough? Do I really have to eat that many? How many should I eat? What's BMR? What's maintenance? Etc.

    So instead of typing the same thing over and over and over again ... here's the sticky version. :)

    Ultimately weight loss is about calories in vs. calories out. You must burn more calories than you take in - in other words, create a calorie deficit - in order to lose weight. The easiest way to do that is to cut back on what you eat. However, you don't want to cut back too far - eating too few calories is not good either. Eating too few calories can cause a metabolic slow down that will stall out your weight loss (not permanently, but long enough to cause frustration). It can also make it harder to get in the necessary amounts of nutrition that you need to lose weight healthily. The idea behind cutting calories is to eat as many as you can to keep your metabolism revved while cutting enough to see a reasonable loss each week.

    Also, the number of calories you should eat is NOT the same for everyone. If someone tells you that you need to eat X number of calories without knowing your height, weight, and age, then they're just pulling a number out of thin air. And there's no way that someone who is 6' and weighs 250 lbs should be eating the same as someone who is 5'4' and weighs 160 lbs. That's like saying an SUV and a sub-compact should use the same amount of gas. It's just silly.

    So how do you determine how many calories to eat?

    The standard formula for determining your BMR is based on the Harris-Benedict equation, which is as follows:

    For men:
    66 + (13.7 x weight in kilos) + (5 x height in cm) - (6.8 x age in years)
    For women:
    655 + (9.6 X weight in kilos) + (1.8 X height in cm) - (4.7 X age in years).
    (see notes below for conversions)

    Remember that your BMR is not your maintenance calories. BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is the number of calories you'd burn if you did nothing but lie in bed all day and breathe. It's the number of calories you need to run the basic functions of your body; to keep your heart beating, your blood flowing, your lungs working, etc.

    Once you've determined your BMR, you'll use an activity multiplier to figure out what your Maintenance calories are; that's the number of calories you need to get through your regular daily activities - things like getting up, showering, going to work, washing dishes, and all those other things that make up your daily life.

    The official multipliers for activity are the same for men and women:
    1. If you are sedentary (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2
    2. If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375
    3. If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
    4. If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): BMR x 1.725
    5. If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training): BMR x 1.9

    The number that you get from using that multiplier is your MAINTENANCE CALORIES for your current weight.

    In order to lose weight, you want to eat less than your maintenance. A good place to start is about 30% less than your maintenance. So subtract 30% from the figure you get and start there.

    Keep in mind that calories are always an estimate. No one burns the exact same number of calories every single day. Sleeping in 10 minutes means you'll burn fewer calories. Walking to the bathroom 2x more during the day means you'll burn more calories. If you're hot or cold you'll burn a different amount of calories. If you eat more or less, you'll burn a different amount of calories. So don't obsess down to the exact number. Use the number you get from the calculations as a guideline - if after a few weeks you're not losing weight, drop another 200-300 calories and see what that gets you. Or add in a little more exercise to burn a few more calories.

    And remember that as you lose weight, you need fewer calories - so what was your maintenance will begin to be too much. Keep an eye on your weight loss and if it begins to slow down (or if you've lost more than 10% of your bodyweight), try dropping your calories by about 200 (not much more) to keep things going.

    That's it. That's all there is to calories - it's not really that hard or that complex. :)

    -------------------

    To get your weight in kilos, divide your weight in lbs by 2.2 - so someone who weighs 150 lbs will weigh 68.18 kilos

    To get your height in centimeters, multiply your height in inches by 2.54 - so someone who is 5'4" (64 inches) will be 162.56 centimeters.

    -------------------

    Once you know your calorie level, it's a good idea to register for a free account at or to log your meals and make sure you are eating within your calorie range.
     
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  3. Harold14370

    Harold14370 Well-Known Member

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  4. GeminiGirl

    GeminiGirl New Member

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    I did the math on this and if I cut back 30% after adding in my activity level and all....it's under 1k calories. :(

    Being petite doesn't leave you much room to tweak your caloric intake.

    Looks like it's going to be my workout to get my "burn" over my intake. :boxing:
     
  5. KaraCooks

    KaraCooks Senior

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    Absolutely. People at extreme ends of the scale (of height and/or weight) often have to tweak things a little differently. I have a guy friend who is over 6'8" ... and he also finds that he has to tweak things the other direction because the averages don't take his size into account.
     
  6. dobner

    dobner Active Member

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    Kara,

    What is the source of the official multipliers?

    Frank
     
  7. Steve

    Steve Member Staff Member

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    Haha, obviously stickies don't work b/c I know I've got a sticky around here that says that same exact stuff. I'm a fan of jackhammering info into people's thick skulls though, so glad to see it yet again.
     
  8. KaraCooks

    KaraCooks Senior

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  9. Pomme

    Pomme New Member

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    The number of calories that you should eat depends of your weight, age, height, your activity levels and whether you are trying to lose, maintain or gain weight.
    You need balance the calories that you take each day in the diet with the calories that you expend each day.
    This calculator estimates the number of calories you should consume each day to maintain, increase, or decrease your weight based upon your gender, height, weight, age, and activity level. This calculator also provides a breakdown of calories and grams required from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

    How many calories should I eat? I found that according to the US Department of Health and Human Services in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans inside of My Pyramide published by USDA, they recommended the follow number of calories per day that you should eat:

    For a person who practices 30 minutes or less of moderate physical activity, the number of calories that they should eat
    Children--------2-3 years old 1000 calories
    Children--------4-8 years old 1200-1400 calories
    Girls-------------9-13 years old 1600 calories
    Boys------------9-13 years old 1800 calories
    Girls------------14-18 years old 1800 calories
    Boys-----------14-18 years old 2200 calories
    Females-------19-30 years old 2000 calories
    Males----------19-30 years old 2400 calories
    Females-------31-50 years old 1800 calories
    Males----------31-50 years old 2200 calories
    Females-------51+ years old 1600 calories
    Males----------51+ years old 2000 calories

    For a person who practices 30 minutes to at least 60 minutes or more of moderate physical activity, the number of calories that they should eat:
    Children--------2-3 years old 1000-1400 calories
    Children--------4-8 years old 1400-1800 calories
    Girls-------------9-13 years old 1600-2200 calories
    Boys-------------9-13 years old 1800-2600 calories
    Girls------------14-18 years old 2000-2400 calories
    Boys------------14-18 years old 2400-3200 calories
    Females-------19-30 years old 2000-2400 calories
    Males----------19-30 years old 2600-3000 calories
    Females-------31-50 years old 2000-2200 calories
    Males----------31-50 years old 2400-3000 calories
    Females-------50+ years old 1800-2200 calories
    Males----------50+ years old 2200-2800 calories
     
    Beth Jones likes this.
  10. KaraCooks

    KaraCooks Senior

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    Sorry, but those numbers are ridiculous. They don't take into account the current weight, age, or activity level of the person.

    And the ranges they specify are too wide to be useful. The difference between 2600 and 3000 calories can be the difference between holding steady and gaining up to a pound a week for some people.

    It's like saying all cars should use the same amount of gas - and it should be somewhere between 10 and 20 gallons mpg. It just doesn't work that way.
     
  11. Jericho

    Jericho Senior

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    Pomme,
    It might help if you didn't just keep posting articles from blogs as proof (Yes, I found the blog). You need to find more balanced sites to post from to sound like you know what you are talking about.
     
  12. Harold14370

    Harold14370 Well-Known Member

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    No, it didn't.
     
  13. Harold14370

    Harold14370 Well-Known Member

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    No. No, it isn't. The correct method was given by Kara in the original post. BMR is the basal metabolic rate, which is the amount you would burn without doing anything but lying in bed. So if you just eat that amount, and not do anything but normal daily activities, you will lose weight.

    I don't know why you are discussing BMI on this thread, either. That's a whole different topic.
     
  14. Fit2010

    Fit2010 New Member

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    Yes, that is correct.. Kara posted and it was right.. but there was no formula so i thought that was why you couldn't understand me when i tried to explain it in a different way..
    i was just adding the formula how to get it.. because i'm not good at explaining it..
     
  15. Fit2010

    Fit2010 New Member

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    The BMI i was adding is another chart people look at weight loss and i didnt i agree with it.. nothing else..

    i wasn't contradicting anyone.. i think from now on i will only ask for information.

    but not say or give information even if i see it right, wrong or missing anything.. since i'm new that way I'm not stepping on anyone toes...
     
  16. KaraCooks

    KaraCooks Senior

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    Um .. which is exactly what I wrote in the first post in this thread ... so your point is exactly ... what?

    Are you reading the same post I wrote? Perhaps you should go back and read it again.

    I have no idea why you're going on about BMI in this thread because this thread has nothing to do with BMI.

    There's nothing wrong with giving information, but if you're going to respond to someone's post and explain how they were "wrong" ... it might be a good idea to actually make sure that you've read the post correctly and that they *are* wrong. You just "corrected" me with the exact same information I'd already posted.
     
  17. Fit2010

    Fit2010 New Member

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    Actually there wasn't anything wrong with the postings, the information from Kara was correct it was just mising her calculation how she came about it for everyone else to work out their own bodies.

    i was just adding to it, that's why i didnt attach it to anything.. Plus its my first time to a forum world. And i wasn't aware you had to link it till after i read a few messages that i picked up on things.

    But that's okay.. no biggy.. I deleted the posting to not cause anymore situations or misinterpretations.. sorry about the spelling.. spell check doesn't work on this site..
     
  18. KaraCooks

    KaraCooks Senior

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    Um .. again ... did you READ my post.

    This is quoted directly from the first post in the thread that I wrote:

    So please explain to me what calculation I left out?????
     
  19. Fit2010

    Fit2010 New Member

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    As i was deleting the postings i had up to prevent issues.. i realized when i was doing copying and paste it didnt paste everything in the original message of mine..I missed the portion i wanted on the RMR with info on it and how its seen by different people that i got from my personal trainner years ago.. But..


    As i was reading I found the original message with all the information exactly you got from Steve back February 24th, but he didnt have the rmr information and how people see that with the bmr.. which i was trying to do here..

    but no biggy either way i was just adding info nothing else.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2010
  20. shygemini

    shygemini Well-Known Member

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    Although this equation is perhaps a good start for determining caloric needs, it is meant for those close to an ideal weight. For those who are obese or quite muscular, it is not at all accurate. Just something to keep in mind :)
     
  21. Kevin222

    Kevin222 New Member

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    Calories is a big subject when it comes to weight loss. We need to learn 3 definitions: the amount of calories in our food, the amount of calories a certain physical action expends every sixty minutes, and last but not least our own personal daily allowance of calories. I learned the solutions to all of these queries by reading the website in the box below, they have loads of tips and tricks, I melted away 5 pounds by following their helpful advice.
     

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