We all know that human beings run on calories. The calories we intake can come from several different sources, primarily from macro-nutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Whenever we think of losing weight, the first idea that pops into mind is watching our calories. Most of us don’t really even know what a calorie is or how many we may need.

A calorie is simply a measure of food as energy. Ideally, in order to maintain a normal body weight, you should consume only as many calories as your body burns. In order to lose weight, you should consume fewer calories than your body burns. And not surprisingly, when you consume more calories than you burn, you gain weight. So it’s important to know how many calories you need.

Use the following formula to figure out how many calories you should consume daily to fulfill your energy needs. This will determine how many calories you need to either lose or maintain your weight. These are guidelines, not absolute numbers to live by. Individuals are different, you determine how many calories you need, how many you actually consume:

Basic Calorie Needs
First, determine your Basic Calorie Needs. Also known as your Resting Metabolic Rate, it is the number of calories required to keep your body in full working order.
Take your healthy weight (or ideal body weight) and multiply it by 10 (female), or 11 (male). A Healthy Weight Range table can be found on Page 12 of my book, Anti-Aging and You. This number that results from multiplying the healthy weight by 11 or 10 is your Basic Calorie Needs.

Activity Calorie Needs
Next, you need to figure out your Activity Calorie Needs by determining your activity level from the following descriptions. Then multiply your Basic Caloric Needs by the matching percentage.

• Sedentary (20%): You sit, drive. lie down, or stand in one place for most of the day. Multiply by 0.20.
• Lightly active (30%): You walk but not for more than two hours a day. Multiply by 0.30.
• Moderately active (40%): You do very little sitting. You garden; you dance, do a lot of housework, and take exercise classes. Multiply by 0.40.
• Very active (50%): You’re active in a physical sport or a labor intensive job, such as construction. Multiply by 0.5.

Calories for Digestion
Now, you want to figure out how many calories you need for digesting and absorbing nutrients. Take your Basic Calories Needs and add it to your Activity Calorie Needs. Then take that number and multiply it by.10. This will determine your Calorie Needs for Digestion.

Total Calorie Needs
Finally, add your Basic Calorie Needs, your Activity Calorie Needs, and your Calorie Needs for Digestion and absorption of nutrients from your food. This figure represents your total energy needs in calories.

This is the number of calories you can eat every day to lose or maintain weight. The actual number of calories that works for you depends on how much exercise you decide to do when you start making lifestyle changes. Never set a daily calorie level that provides less than ten calories per pound of your current weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, your average calorie count for the day should be no less than 1500 calories. The following are calorie requirements for the average person in each group.
Where do you figure in?

1,600 calories: Needed for many sedentary woman and some older adults.
2,200 calories: Needed for most children, teenage girls, active women, and many sedentary men.
2,800 calories: Needed for teenage boys, many active men, and some very active women.

Though most of us have busy schedules and don’t have the time to count calories and measure servings, with a little preparation and know how, you don’t need to count calories. You just need to know how many servings of each macro-nutrient you should eat on a daily basis.

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