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Recommended Calorie Intake – Exactly How to Determine Your Daily Calorie Intake to Lose Weight
The goal of anyone who wants to lose weight should be to lose fat in the healthiest way while keeping as much lean muscle as possible. It is important to work with your body to promote healthy weight loss and for this we must explain recommended calorie intake for your particular body.
Caloric intake is generally recommended by many sources as a static number and is usually reduced by 500 to 1000 calories per day from the calories needed to maintain your current weight. In general, this is a good place to start; However, the problem with using a static number is that everyone needs the same amount of calories to maintain their weight.
For example someone who needs 1800 calories a day to maintain their weight will reduce their calorie intake by 27%, but someone who needs 2500 calories a day to maintain their weight will only reduce by 20%. So it only seems logical that to find your recommended calorie intake, you should use the percentage of calories you need to maintain your weight.
Ideally you want to reduce the amount of calories needed to maintain your current weight by 15%-20%. Now that you know the percentage, I know what you’re thinking “Okay…okay…but 15%-20% of WHAT!” Now we need to determine how many calories your body needs to maintain your current weight.
While many sources will tell you to simply increase your body weight by a certain amount to determine a caloric maintenance number. As a rule, it is not the best way to determine the number for YOUR body. Personally I have found the Harris Benedict Formula to be very reliable when determining the number of calories needed to maintain your weight.
Below are the steps needed to determine the recommended calorie intake for your body using the Harris Benedict Formula:
- First, determine your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
- Next, find your caloric maintenance level by multiplying your BMR times your activity level.
- Third, reduce that number by 15%-20% to find your recommended calorie intake.
This may sound complicated, but it’s really just a matter of plugging your numbers into a formula.
Find Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
1 pound = 0.454 kilos and 1 inch = 2.54 centimeters
Using the formula above…
66 + (13.7 x body weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in years) = BMR
655 + (9.6 x body weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years) = BMR
Now take your BMR and multiply it by the appropriate Activity Multiplier
- Sedentary = BMR x 1.2 (little or no exercise)
- Lightly active = BMR x 1.375 (light exercise: 1-3 days a week)
- Moderately active = BMR x 1.55 (moderate exercise: 3-5 days a week)
- Very Active = BMR x 1.725 (hard work: 6-7 days a week)
- Extremely Active = BMR x 1.9 (daily hard work and hard physical work)
Now, reduce this number by 15%-20% and you will have the recommended calorie intake for your body.
Here is an example:
Jennifer weighs 155 pounds, is 38 years old, is 5’3″ tall, and is moderately active. To find her BMR we will plug her numbers into the formula. First we convert from kilograms to kilograms and from inches to centimeters.
155 lbs x 0.454 = 70.4 kg and 5’3″ = 63 inches = 63 x 2.54 = 160.02 cm
655 + (675.84) + (288.04) – (178.6) = 1.440
BMR x Activity Level = 1440 x 1.55 = 2,232 So Jennifer’s caloric maintenance number is 2,232 calories per day.
For healthy weight loss, Jennifer’s recommended calorie intake would be 1,786 calories per day (2,232 – 20% = 1,786)
Knowing that you know how to determine the recommended calorie intake for safe and optimal weight loss, you have another tool at your disposal to improve your chances of success in losing weight.
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