Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Calorie Counting Is Not For Rocket Scientists Anymore!

Calorie Counting is Not for Rocket Scientists Anymore!
By: Chef Cristian

The basic tools of losing weight are actually quite simple, as long as you understand the mathematics of weight loss and weight gain. I have written this article to show you how you can use the mathematics of calories to reach and maintain your ideal body weight.

A calorie is a unit of energy. Simply stated, each food will furnish your body with a different amount of energy. We measure this energy in units called Calories. For example, a small apple will have less calories than a big bacon cheeseburger. Your body needs a certain amount of food energy each day to stay healthy. If you feed your body too many calories, it probably gains weight. If you don't feed your body enough calories, your body loses weight. So how many calories do you need each day?

Thanks to Scientists with horn-rimmed glasses and dateless Friday nights, certain formulas were invented a while back. And although they were invented by smart people, these formulas are easy to use. You will use this formula to figure out how many calories your body needs in order to stay the same. This is called the BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). The BMR is just the amount of calories that your body needs to eat in order to stay the same weight (not gain or lose weight) each day. Once we figure out the BMR we can then plan how many calories you will need to eat in order to lose weight, gain weight or maintain your current body weight. I would like you to keep in mind that one pound of fat is made up of 3500 calories. This will become useful to you in a moment.

Here are both BMR formulas for men and women:

  • 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 )
Now that you know what your BMR is, you will need to go a step further. Different people do different types of activities throughout the day. Some of you are athletes and some of you are couch potatoes! So if both of you have the same BMR, you will still need different amount of calories to have your bodies stay the same weight.

Here is the activity level formula:

  • If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2

  • If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375

  • If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55

  • If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725

  • If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
Now that you know a more exact BMR, we can go on to the weight loss part. So let's say that your BMR was 2000 calories, and after doing the activity formula you found yourself being lightly active and your BMR is now calculated to be 2400. Now you know that if you want to stay the same weight, you eat 2400 calories per day. But I know that most of you want to lose weight, so this is how you do it.

Doctors recommend that a safe rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 Lbs of weight per week. They also say that you should not cut out more than 1000 calories from your BMR. Always consult your doctor before beginning a calorie restricted diet. With that being said, let's do a plan for you to lose weight.

We will use the example of a Larry who has a BMR of 2400 calories per day. We know Larry wants to lose 2 Lbs per week. We know that each pound of fat is made up of 3500 calories, so two pounds of fat would be 7000 calories. This means that Larry would have to eat 7000 calories less for the week if he wants to lose 2 Lbs. This can be done by having 1000 less calories each day. So the daily amount of calories that Larry would need would be 1400 calories. If Larry finds that it's too hard to cut out 1000 calories from his diet each day, he can eat more calories BUT he must now exercise more. For example, he could cut only 500 calories per day from his food intake (instead of 1000), and go to the gym and burn the other 500 calories by running on the treadmill. It's actually recommended that you mix diet and exercise together for best results. If you cut too many calories from your diet, your body goes into starvation mode and slows down your metabolism. You do not want your body to do this, so you should balance exercise and diet.

Now that you know how many calories you will need to eat in order to lose weight, how do you calculate the amount of food to eat? Luckily for you, almost every food product comes with nutritional information printed on the package which tells you how many calories per portion the food is worth. For example, a can of tuna might say 240 Calories per Cup. And your bag of rice might say that it's 140 calories per Cup. You will need to start calculating food portions, and although it may get annoying, it will ensure that you reach your weight goals. There are calorie guides you can buy at you local bookstore, and there are a great many resources that can be found on the internet which tell you the caloric values of each food.

Although the formulas are all laid out for you, some of you still may find it too tedious to keep track of how many calories you are eating every day. In this case, I recommend hiring a personal chef that will be able to measure out your food portions to create your ideal calorie diet. I have helped many clients with their weight loss goals by saving them time and providing them with carefully portioned meals. I hope that you have found this article helpful!

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