07 February 2012

It's a Numbers Game

Everyone has tried a million different diets that promise results and outline various ways to eat.  However, weight loss is about taking in less calories than you burn each day, not some fad lose weight quick diet.  Knowing this, I’ve never actually tried any diet program that I had to pay extra to join.  I do really well keeping track of calories in and calories out. The challenge is figuring out how many calories in each day.

In the UK the recommended calorie intake for a woman is 2000, in the US its 1800.  How can both be right?  I don’t think either of them are.  To really know how many calories you need you can’t go by a generic government guideline, but by your own body.  I use this handy dandy math formula to figure out my basic metabolic rate (BMR):

Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) - ( 6.8 x age in year )

This is the number of calories you burn if you’re just hanging out on the couch each day.  If you move around during the day, say commute, you can multiply your final number by 1.2.  So let’s say there is a 25 year old woman who is 5’9 and weights 200 lbs, her BMR would be 1732, then multiplied by 1.2 is 2078.  In order to create a calorie deficit, and lose weight she would need to eat less than 2078 calories a day.  Of course, as you lose weight your BMR goes down.  I recalculate mine weekly. 

If our hypothetical woman didn’t eat more than 1500 calories a day and then burnt off an extra 500 calories by exercising she would have a deficit that looked like this: 

Eaten calorie (1500) - Burnt calories (500) = 1000 calories – BMR (2078)= 1078 calorie deficit 

If you keep in mind that one pound = 3500 calories she would lose 3 pounds every 3 and a half days or so.  Of course there are a million other factors that can contribute.  Are you making sure that your 1500 calories a day fulfill the nutrient needs of your body and are you over exercising?  A calorie deficit of over 1000 calories a day isn’t sustainable.  After a few weeks, and as you get closer to your goal weight, your body will start to panic that it won’t have enough resources to carry on and it will hold on to every ounce it can.  

Please keep in mind that I’m not recommending anything, I’m just trying to pass on something I learned in my weight loss journey.  I’m not a doctor or anything, just a person trying to be healthier! 
I wanted to link up to the Big Fashionista because she’s working on losing weight as well and I just really like her blog!

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