A calorie is simply energy that the body gets from food. The body needs this energy to function just like a car needs gasoline to run. Every person needs a different number of calories each day. The number of calories that you need depends on numerous factors such as:
- activity level
Many methods are available to calculate daily caloric needs. One of the easiest and most effective methods is to calculate basal metabolic rate (BMR) and then account for activity level to get total energy expenditure (TEE).
BMR represents how many calories the body needs to perform its most basic functions, such as breathing, digesting food, and the upkeep of organs. The American Dietetic Association recommends that the most practical way to calculate BMR is by using the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation.
Women: (9.99 x w) + (6.25 x h) – (4.92 x y) – 161
Men: (9.99 x w) + (6.25 x h) – (4.92 x y) + 5
w = weight (kg)
h = height (cm)
y = years/age
Here is a calculator to measure your BMR:
Once BMR is measured, multiply it by your activity factor to get your daily TEE. This figure represents the number of calories you need to eat each day on average in order to maintain your current body weight.
- Sedentary: 1.0 – 1.3
- Low-Active: 1.4 – 1.5
- Active: 1.6 – 1.8
- Very Active: 1.9 – 2.5
One downside to this approach to calculating daily caloric needs is that it is based solely on body weight and does not take into account factors like lean body mass which runs at a higher metabolic rate than body fat.
So bear in mind that TEE is only an estimate of your daily caloric needs to maintain your current weight. Knowing your daily caloric need will help you make wiser food choices and opt for foods that fit within your health goals.
Weight is directly affected by calorie consumption. Consuming more calories than the body needs will cause weight gain while consuming fewer calories than the body needs will cause weight loss. Maintaining the body’s current weight is achieved when calories consumed and calories needed are equal.
One pound of body weight is equivalent to 3,500 calories. In other words, you need to operate at a 3,500 calorie deficit in order to lose one pound. So if you consume 500 fewer calories per day than your body burns, you could expect to lose one pound per week on such a diet. Another method for weight loss is to keep calorie consumption static but increase activity level. This approach does not require one to cut calories out of the diet since the “dieting” is effectively being done via increased activity.