How Many Calories Should I Eat?
I get this question all the time. People want to lose weight, and they want the “magic number” that will make it happen. We all know there’s a simple scale that must be kept in check if we want to lose weight:
Calories In < Calories Out
But how many calories can I/should I consume? In order to answer this question, I need to know more about my metabolism.
The Resting Metabolic Rate is a measure of the unique number of calories your body would burn if you did nothing but sit and rest all day long. During our visit to DEXAFIT in Dallas, my Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) was determined by a simple 15-minute test. This number is related to your lean muscle mass, which includes muscle and internal organs. Your body is constantly burning calories: while you sleep, eat, work, go about your daily life. In fact, your body probably burned more last night while you slept than it did during today’s workout!
My RMR was measured at 1,426 Calories, meaning my body burns this just to make it through each day. Sleeping seems so much easier than the measly 350 Calories my Garmin said I burned today exercising! But those measly Calories count too. We add exercise plus the Calories we burn going about our daily lives (also known as “Lifestyle and Activity”). For my age and activity level, this is averaged at 425 Cal. Combined that puts me around 2,200 Calories per day.
I can now determine my average daily consumption based on these numbers. If I want to lose weight, I try to come in 500 Calories below this number, or around 1,700. If I want to maintain, I can have a few more.
The important thing to remember is that while exercise is important, and will give each of us a little padding, it will not give you the freedom to eat whatever you want. What it will do however, that is even more important, is it will help build lean muscle mass. And that lean mass will help increase your RMR, giving you a higher metabolism and thus the freedom to eat a little more every single day, not just on the days you exercise.
If you are serious about weight gain or loss, or think you are cursed with a slow metabolism, I recommend having the test done. Together with the facilitator you can determine your best calorie range per day to meet your goals. Combining this information with Nutrition Counseling at the LAB is a perfect way to get you started on your path towards success.