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Recommended Calorie Intake – Exactly How to Determine Your Daily Calorie Intake to Lose Weight
The goal of everyone that wants to lose weight should be to lose fat in the healthiest way possible while at the same time retaining 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 usually recommended as a static number by many resources and generally it is a reduction of 500 to 1000 calories a 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 everyone requires the same amount of calories to maintain their weight.
For example a person who requires 1800 calories a day to maintain their weight would be reducing their calorie intake by 27%, while a person that requires 2500 calories a day to maintain their weight would only be reducing by 20%. So it only seems logical that to find your recommended calorie intake, you should use a percentage of the calories required to maintain your weight.
Ideally you want to reduce the amount of calories required to maintain your current weight by 15%-20%. Now that you know the percentage, I know what you are thinking “OK…OK…but 15%-20% of WHAT!” Now we have to determine how many calories your body needs to maintain your current weight.
While many resources will tell you to just multiply your body weight by a set number to determine a caloric maintenance figure. As a rule, it is not the optimal way to determine the number for YOUR body. Personally I have found the Harris Benedict Formula to be very reliable when determining the number of calories needed to maintain your weight.
Below are the steps required 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 really is just a matter of 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 from 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 to no exercise)
- Lightly Active = BMR x 1.375 (light exercise: 1-3 days a week)
- Moderately Active = BMR x 1.55 (moderate exercise: 3-5 days a week)
- Very Active = BMR x 1.725 (intense exercise: 6-7 days a week)
- Extremely Active = BMR x 1.9 (intense daily exercise and a strenuous physical job)
Now, reduce this number by 15%-20% and you will have the recommended calorie intake for your body.
Here is an example:
Jennifer weighs 155 pounds, she is 38 years old, she is 5’3″ tall, and she is Moderately Active. to find her BMR we will plug her numbers into the formula. First we convert from pounds to kilograms and from inches to centimeters.
155 pounds 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 = 2,232 So Jennifer’s caloric maintenance number is 2,232 calories a day.
For healthy weight loss, Jenifer’s recommended calorie intake would be 1,786 calories a day (2,232 – 20% = 1,786)
Know that you know how to determine the recommended calorie intake for safe and optimal weight loss, you have one more tool at your disposal to improve your chances of success at losing weight.
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