Today, I wanted to tell you all about how many calories your body needs. A lot of people focus on cutting calories in order to lose weight, and may end up starving their bodies on accident! When you cut your calories down too far, you’re telling your body that it’s not going to get enough food, so it tries to help you by storing all of the food you do eat as fat. It’s very helpful to know how many calories your body needs to sustain a healthy life, because your health is what really matters, not your body weight.
Let’s jump right in and calculate our Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). The RMR is a measure of the minimum amount of calories your body burns naturally, if you don’t move at all. There are many ways to calculate RMR, and you can definitely do it by hand; however, there are numerous resources online that are accurate at calculating your RMR for you! If you want to learn how the formulas work or how to calculate your RMR by hand, I am happy to teach you – just leave a comment!
Bodybuilding.com has a great RMR calculator here: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/calrmr.htm.
Once you have your RMR, you need to think about how physically active you are. Your physical activity level will correspond to a number below. That number is known as your Activity Factor.
1.3: If you do not exercise, exercise minimally, or exercise at a moderate intensity (walking),
1.4-1.5: If you are active 3-5 times a week and work at higher intensities
1.6-1.7: If you are very active, and exercise most days of the week
1.8-1.9: If you are an elite athlete
Once you have determined which Activity Factor corresponds to your personal level of fitness, multiply your value for RMR by that Activity Factor to find out how many calories you will burn in a day! You can use this knowledge for a lot, including eating enough to maintain your body weight and health, gaining weight when building muscle, or trying to lose weight in a healthy way.
If you’re trying to lose weight: Ideally, you should aim to lose 1-2lb of fat per week. In order to do that, you have to either eat 500 fewer calories a day or exercise enough to burn 500 calories extra per day. Generally, it will be easier to eat 500 fewer calories a day
than it is to burn 500, because burning 500 calories is equivalent to running 5 miles! If your RMR is so low that decreasing your caloric intake by 500 calories a day puts your daily intake lower than 1200-1300 calories a day, you should not restrict calories. You very likely do not need to lose weight, and should focus instead on toning your body or building muscle to become healthier.
If you’re trying to gain weight: Ideally, you should aim to gain 1-2lb of muscle per week. In order to do that, you have to eat 500 calories extra each day. Generally, those who want to increase their body weight also want to increase their muscle mass,so it is important that exercise be directed towards hypertrophy rather than cardio training if gaining weight is the goal.
Tip of the Day: You cannot lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. If your goal is to lose fat, then you should focus on restricting your calories little by little and doing cardio exercise for about an hour a day. If your goal is to gain muscle, you need to increase your calories and perform hypertrophy training in the gym.
Whatever your goal is, remember that changes don’t happen overnight, and sometimes you will be misled by the number on the scale. Remember that any healthy foods you eat and any exercise you do is for your health, and not for a number on the scale.