With all of the contradicting information circulated by health officials, the government and the internet, it can be difficult to determine how many calories you need to consume every day.
Exercise (which should include both resistance and cardio activity) is essential for staying in shape but is not nearly as important as your diet.
The most effective means of calculating your daily caloric needs calls for the use of a sliding scale.
We start with a baseline amount of ‘1’ (some call it your basal metabolic rate), which will represent a value of ten (10) calories. No matter what your activity level, you will always consume a minimum of ten calories per pound of bodyweight.
Example: 150 lb man or woman consumes at least 1500 calories a day.
(150 X 1= 150 X 10 calories = 1500 calories is baseline amount)
After determining your baseline level of consumption, we would multiply this by an ‘activity coefficient’, a decimal ranging from ‘.1’ for sedentary to ‘.5’ depending on weekly level of activity:
You would then add these two numbers together to arrive at a suggested daily intake.
For example, suppose our 150lb man or woman is on a track team and engages in prolonged, strenuous physical activity five days a week:
1500 (baseline level) + (1500 X .5) = 1500 +750= 2250 calories/day
The formula can be used for both men and women.
Adapting this system for approximating your caloric needs should work wonders for both your fitness goals but your everyday life as well. Specific numbers offer the benefit of measurable intake guidelines—when you know how much you are consuming, you can easily adjust up or down based on the results you see in the mirror. If you find yourself gaining too much fat, apply a smaller activity coefficient.
As an added benefit, you will discover that you can remain satiated and fulfilled using this kind of eating plan instead of just starving yourself and hoping that you will lose weight. Diets that advocate starvation-level eating patterns (read: 1000 calories for a 200lb man) rob you of precious muscle tone and are impossible to maintain in the long term. You will lose weight, but it will be primarily muscle, not fat.
Consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.