Thursday, March 29, 2012

How many calories should I eat?

This week is all about healthy eating at Fit2Flex. I didn't intentionally set out for the week to focus on that, however my posts just came together that way. Fun!

Knowing how to eat for your body is one of the hardest things to figure out.
Feed me!
Yesterday I talked about my total calories for the day.  It was 1,804 calories.  I aim to eat between 1800-2200 calories a day. 

I will try my best to explain how to find your calorie numbers in this post.  Keep in mind it will not be exact. These are just guidelines and I am not yet a registered dietitian.

The MyFitnessPal site I used yesterday uses the most accurate equation, the Mifflin St. Jeor equation, to estimate your BMR. 
BMR = basal metabolic rate. 
Basically the calories your body would burn a day if at rest.  Think about it this way - these are the calories your body needs to survive and fuel your brain, kidneys, heart, etc...  Once you are up, active, walking, working out; then you are burning more calories. IMHO, you should NOT eat fewer calories than your BMR. This would put your body into starvation mode and have a negative impact in the long run.

My BMR according to the Mifflin St. Jeor equation on MyFitnessPal is 1,402 calories.  

I have had my BMR tested by a calorimetry machine and my BMR is actually around 1872.  Why? I have a lot of muscle which is a more metabolically active tissue. A simple equation based on age and height doesn't account for this.

Using the DietBlog site my daily calorie range was calculated like this:
That is pretty self explanatory but it means that I can eat up to 2176 calories and not gain weight.  An intake of 1306-1741 will help me lose weight. These numbers do take into account about 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week.  Marathon training and long runs above 6 miles would require more calories.

All that being said I aim to eat about 2,000 calories a day or 1,800 if I'm watching what I eat.

How does this apply to you?  

Find your BMR to get a general idea of calories needed and adjust for exercise.  Using these online tools are a good starting point.

Your BMR increases as your build lean muscle and it decreases with age and if you starve yourself. Also a 10+ pound weight loss/gain would effect your BMR.

Calorie numbers are important, but as I talked about in my "What is a Healthy Diet?" post there is so much more to nurturing your body than strict calorie numbers.  I choose not to focus on calories often.  I aim to eat clean, nutrient dense foods.

Right now I am trying to watch what I eat and it hasn't been easy.  The more I try to eat better...the more I want to snack.  Not being able to run is really messing with my head.  I starting using the rowing machine as my cardio and I take it one meal and one healthy choice at a time.  If you are trying to lose weight and struggling just know you are not alone.  We all have times when we feel that our body isn't "at it's best".  It's all a matter of knowing what to eat, when to eat it, and having the will power to consistently make the right choices.  I'm working on the last one this week.
I hope this post help shed some light on the "how much should I eat" dilemma. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

How many calories do you aim to eat a day? Do calories confuse you?

Love and kilojoules,
Carissa & Kyle