Saturday, March 5, 2011

Calorie Counting and Weight Loss

Are you consuming enough calories per day? The number of calories needed to maintain your current weight (with light physical activity) is your body weight multiplied by 13. So if you weight 190 pounds, you should consume 2470 calories per day to maintain your weight.

Let’s say you lift weights and want to gain body weight, you need to consume more calories than you burn. One pound of body weight is roughly equivalent to 3500 calories, so eating an extra 500 calories per day will cause you to gain one pound a week.

Let’s say you’re me and want to lose body weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. One pound of body weight is roughly equivalent to 3500 calories, so creating a deficit of 500 calories (through diet, exercise, or both) per day will cause you to lose one pound a week.

Here's a crude daily caloric intake calculator I created using Excel. I pack all my snacks during the week so it's easier to track what I'm consuming. There is some variation, like I may eat jello instead of yogurt, so I added columns for substitutions (C and E). Cell A1 is my body weight times 13, cell B15 is to actual calories consumed for the day. Lunch and dinner are usually where my meals vary, so after I add in all my snacks, I divide the remaining calories between lunch and dinner to know the max I can consume between those meals. I find a calculator helpful when I'm thinking about having a hanful of M&M's. Those extra 100 calories may put me over budget! It may seem tedious, but since I pack my meals, I really only have to monitor my lunch and dinner intake daily. And I only update my calculator if I switch out a snack.

Now, you can get more technical and start figuring where your calories will come from each day (protein, carbs, etc.). I’m not that educated on that subject yet, and there seem to be a lot of ‘expert’ opinions on the matter. But the math on calorie consumption doesn’t lie. Calories in, calories out is how to manage our weight.

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