Diet Tips: How Do You Know How Many Calories You Need Each Day?

Knowing the amount of calories needed per day helps a person to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Figuring out the number of calories that a person needs each day is pretty simple.

A person's daily caloric needs are determined by three items: Basal Metabolic Rate, Activity Level, and Digestion and Absorption. Every person can calculate daily caloric needs by doing the following:

1) Finding the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the energy needed to maintain involuntary body processes, such as breathing, pumping blood throughout the body, and creating hormones. Approximately 60% of the calories consumed are used to maintain involuntary body processes; as a rough guide, normally 10 calories per pound of body weight are needed in order to do this. As an example, a 150-pound woman will need 10 x 150, or 1,500, calories each day in order to function properly.

Also, for every decade past the growth years""approximately age 20""a person's caloric needs drop two percent (0.02).

Keep in mind that many factors influence BMR. The inherited factor of body build is one. Tall and thin people burn more calories because they have more surface area and more calories to burn in order to maintain body processes. Gender is another factor; because men normally have more muscle than women, they normally need more calories.

BMR can be altered by doing the following:

* Exercise""BMR can be boosted by exercise, depending on length and intensity of the exercise.

* Diet""Extreme dieting is not a good idea for a healthy lifestyle, and doing so causes the body to believe that it is being starved. As a result, BMR will be reduced in an attempt to conserve calories.

* More muscle mass""The greater the ratio of lean muscle to fat, the more calories are burned. Muscle burns more calories than fat.

2) Determining calories needed for physical activity

30% of a person's calories fuel all of that person's activities""from pulling at an ear to walking briskly to the bus stop. In order to determine how many calories are needed given a level of activity, multiply the calories needed for BMR by the percentage below that best matches a person's average activity level:



* Sedentary (sitting for most of the day, little physical activity)""20% or 0.20

* Light activity (walking to the bus, cooking, walking the dog)""30% or 0.30

* Moderate activity (heavy housework, gardening, limited sitting)""40% or 0.40

* Very active (prolonged physical sports, outdoor work)""50% or 0.50

Using the 30-year-old 150-pound woman as an example, let us say that she leads a lifestyle that is moderately active. Therefore, the number of calories that she needs per day is 1,500 x 0.40 = 600.

3) Identifying the number of calories needed for digestion

Approximately 10% of a person's caloric intake is necessary for fueling digestion and absorbing nutrients. In order to determine the number of calories needed for this, add the calories for BMR to the number calories required for physical activity, and then multiply the sum by 10 percent (0.10).

Continuing with our example, our 30-year-old woman would need (1,500 + 600) x 0.10 = 210 calories for digestion per day.

4) Finding the total daily calories

In order to determine total calorie needs for the day, all numbers must be added.

BMR + Physical Activity Calories + Digestion Calories = Daily number of calories

Again as an example, the number of calories that our 30-year-old woman would need on a daily basis is:

1,500 (BMR) + 600 (Physical Activity) + 210 (Digestion) = 2,310 Calories Per Day

However, because she is 30, two percent (0.02) of the BMR must be subtracted from the daily total:

2,310 - (0.02 x 1,500) = 2,280 calories needed per day for a 30-year-old woman weighing 150 pounds.

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