Figuring Your Energy Needs
Brought to you by GeneWize Life Sciences
How much energy (calories) does your body need per day? Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too. The energy you expend regulates how much energy you should take in.
Calories are what nutritionists use to measure how much energy is stored in that food in your fridge. To be exact, 1 calorie equals the amount of energy it would take to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of water 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Fats yield 9 calories per gram, for instance, and carbohydrates provide about 4.
Why, you may wonder, are we told to stay away from fatty food? Couldn’t we all use a little more pep? Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way. If you are a moderately active person, you probably require about 15 calories for every pound you weigh to give you all the energy you need to get through your daily routine. Your body, marvel of efficiency that it is, will store any caloric intake above that amount for a rainy day.
The problem is, your body stores those calories in the form of fat – a lumpy but efficient sort of battery system. To make matters worse, a major new study has shown that when you do lose weight, your metabolism adjusts by burning calories more slowly, making it even harder not to regain that lost weight.
The bottom line: If you store an extra 3,500 calories of energy somewhere, that somewhere is going to gain about a pound of body fat.
So how much energy (calories) does your body need per day, you ask? For a rough guesstimate, enter the following information to calculate your daily energy (calories) needs.
1. Figure your basic energy needs (BMR). Multiply your healthy weight in pounds by 10 for women and 11 for men.
Weight x _______ = _______ calories for basic needs
2. Figuring your energy needs for physical activity. Check the activity level that matches your lifestyle:
_____ Sedentary: mainly sitting, driving a car, lying down, sleeping, standing, reading, typing, or other low intensity activities.
_____ Light Activity: light exercise, such as walking for no more than 2 hours daily.
_____ Moderate Activity: moderate exercise such as heavy housework, gardening, dancing, and very little sitting.
_____ Very Active: physical sports or labor-intensive job, such as construction work or ditch digging.
Multiply your basic energy needs by the percent that matches your activity level: sedentary-20%; light activity: 30%; moderate activity: 40%; or very active: 50%
_____ calories for basic needs x _____ % for activity level = _____ calories for physical activity
3. Figure energy for digestion and absorbing nutrients. Add your calories for basic needs and calories for physical activity, and then multiply the total by 10%.
( ____ calories for basic needs + _____ calories for physical activity) x 10% = ____ calories for digestion and absorbing nutrients
4. Add up your total energy needs by adding calories for each purpose.
Calories for basic needs + calories for physical activity + calories for digestion and absorbing nutrients = ______ calories for your total energy needs
As an example, consider this 40 year-old female, who works at a desk and walks during her lunch hour. She weighs 125 pounds, which is healthy for her height.
Basic energy needs: 125 pounds x 10 = 1250 calories
Energy for physical activity: 1250 calories x .30 = 375 calories
Energy for digestion and absorbing nutrients:
(1250 + 375 calories) x .10 = 162.5 calories
Total energy needs:
1250 calories + 375 calories + 162.5 calories = 1787.5 calories
Resources: Practical Guide to Health & Seattle’s Integrated Support Command (ISC) Coast Guard Physical Fitness Program
Thank you to Amy Gabrielson for this great resource! Share her newsletter here.