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Recommended Calorie Intake – Exactly How to Determine Your Daily Calorie Intake to Lose Weight
The goal of anyone who wants to lose weight should be to lose fat in the healthiest way possible while maintaining as much lean muscle as possible. It is important to work with your body to promote healthy weight loss and to do this we need to determine the recommended calorie intake for your particular body.
Calorie intake is generally recommended as a static number by many resources and it is usually a reduction of 500-1000 calories per day from the calories needed to maintain your current weight. In general, this is a good place to start; However, the problem with using a static number is not that everyone needs the same amount of calories to maintain weight.
For example, someone who needs 1800 calories a day to maintain weight would reduce their calorie intake by 27%, while someone who needs 2500 calories a day to maintain weight would only reduce their calorie intake by 20%. It therefore seems logical that to find your recommended calorie intake, you should use a percentage of the calories needed to maintain your weight.
Ideally, you want to reduce the amount of calories needed to maintain your current weight by 15-20%. Now that you know the percentage, I know what you’re thinking “OK…OK…but 15% to 20% of WHAT!” Now we need to figure out how many calories your body needs to maintain your current weight.
While many resources will tell you to simply multiply your body weight by a set number to determine a calorie maintenance figure. Generally, this is not the optimal way to determine the number for YOUR body. Personally, I have found the Harris Benedict formula to be very reliable in determining the number of calories needed to maintain your weight.
Below are the steps needed to determine the recommended calorie intake for your body using the Harris Benedict formula:
- First, determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR).
- Next, find your caloric maintenance level by multiplying your BMR by the activity level multiplier.
- Third, reduce that number by 15-20% to find your recommended calorie intake.
This may sound complicated, but it’s really just plugging your numbers into a formula.
Find your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
1 pound = 0.454 kilograms and 1 inch = 2.54 centimeters
Using the formula above…
66 + (13.7 x body weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in years) = BMR
655 + (9.6 x body weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years) = BMR
Now take your BMR and multiplier by the appropriate activity multiplier
- Sedentary = BMR x 1.2 (little or no exercise)
- Slightly active = BMR x 1.375 (light exercise: 1-3 days per week)
- Moderately active = BMR x 1.55 (moderate exercise: 3-5 days per week)
- Very active = BMR x 1.725 (intense exercise: 6-7 days a week)
- extremely active = BMR x 1.9 (intense daily exercise and intense physical work)
Now reduce that number by 15-20% and you will have the recommended caloric intake for your body.
Here is an example:
Jennifer is 155 pounds, 38 years old, 5’3″ tall and moderately active. To find his BMR, we will insert his numbers into the formula. We first convert pounds to kilograms and inches to centimeters. .
155 lbs x 0.454 = 70.4 kg and 5’3″ = 63 inches = 63 x 2.54 = 160.02 cm
655 + (675.84) + (288.04) – (178.6) = 1,440
BMR x activity level = 1440 x 1.55 = 2232 So Jennifer’s calorie maintenance number is 2232 calories per day.
For healthy weight loss, Jenifer’s recommended calorie intake would be 1,786 calories per day (2,232 – 20% = 1,786)
Knowing that you know how to determine the recommended caloric intake for safe and optimal weight loss, you have one more tool at your disposal to improve your chances of successfully losing weight.
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