The world seems to be obsessed with calories right now; counting them, setting limits to them and burning them. Well, what is this thing that that everyone can’t have too less of?
To be fair, calories aren’t necessarily harmful- they give our body the energy that it needs, helping it to remain healthy as well as balanced. Most food and drink items contain calories, in varying amounts. Calories become the devil when you have more than your body can burn off, leading to the much abhorred phenomenon of weight gain. Besides weight gain, a high intake of calorie can raise the alarm for other serious issue such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis (due to weight gain) and even mild cases of cognitive impairments.
Knowing the risks, it becomes imperative to be conscious about your food habits and to watch what you eat. However, each body type is different and so is the amount of activity that individuals perform. Determining the calorie requirement of a body should hence not follow a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and be tailored according to the specificities of an individual.
However, there are certain factors that determine your calorie requirement and how to meet them.
Let’s first talk about an individual’s daily calorie requirement.
Determining your Daily Calorie Requirement
Be Clear About your Goals
Deciding how much calorie to have is based on what you want to do with your body. Do you want to lose weight, gain weight or remain the same? If you want to lose, have lesser calories than your body can burn. Get a higher calorie diet if your goal is to gain weight.
Estimate your BMR
How much calorie you need every day is greatly determined by your body’s BMR or Basic Metabolism Rate. It tells you how much calorie your body is burning at a state of complete rest. This is the least amount of calories that your body needs to exist (though you would definitely need more if you want to live)
Ones BMR is calculated on the basis of his/her weight, height age and sex.
BMR for men is calculated with the formula: 10 x weight (kgs) + 6.25 x height(cm) – 5 x age (yrs) + 5
BMR for women is calculated with the formula: 10 x weight (kgs) + 6.25 x height(cm) – 5 x age (yrs) – 161
Determine your Activity Level
While your body’s BMR lets you know the basic amount of calories you need to keep your organs functional, it is the ‘Total Energy Expenditure’ that can inform you regarding your ideal calories intake based on your activity level.
The body’s activity level is generally divided into categories like sedentary, light, moderate heavy and very heavy whereby each category is assigned a particular value. Your requirement for calorie intake increases with your level of activity.
Multiply your BMR with the value attached with your level of activity to get required calorie intake. An average man requires 2000-3000 calories a day while an average woman requires something between 1600-2400 calories.
Now that we have an idea about ways to calculate calorie requirement, we can concentrate on how to meet those requirements.
Meeting the requirements
To know if you are meeting your calorie needs or not, you need to track it. There are apps and websites that determine both your daily calorie requirement as well as when you have met them. Or you can do it the old fashioned way, using the formulas for calculation.
Tracking ones calorie intake has become fairly easy now, with literally hundreds of apps that promise to do this job for you. To simplify things, you can take note of everything you consume throughout the day and enter them before going to bed to get a calorie count. You can also keep updating them throughout the day so you can keep a better track of how your day is going.
If you’re not one for tech, you can check out the packaging of the food you eat to know about its nutritional content and then calculate it manually with a calculator.