How to Calculate Calories

Calculating the number of calories you need versus the amount of calories you eat each day will help you determine how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Counting calories can help you eat a healthy, balanced diet while avoiding excess weight gain.

Calories are a measure of energy, specifically the energy the body needs to function. Age, gender, height, weight, body mass and level of activity can all have an impact on the number of calories you need to take in each day. Taking in these factors and learning what calorie levels you can get from consuming different foods will help you determine how to count calories properly to maintain your overall health.

How to Calculate Calories You Need Per Day

  1. Apply Online Calculators. There are a variety of online calculators that can help you determine the number of calories you should be eating each day. Some of these are designed to help manage your overall health while others are designed to assist with weight loss, but they all largely work the same. Enter any relevant personal data such as your gender, age, weight and height and then choose the type of measurements you would like to work with to get a count of the number of calories you should be eating. You can find a BMR calculator to use at http://www.calories-calculator.net/BMR_Calculator.html.
  2. Calculate Your Own BMR. Online calculators work with the BMR or basal metabolic rate. This calculates the amount of energy necessary to perform essential functions like breathing, digestion or heartbeat. Men calculate the BMR by multiplying 12.7 times their height plus 6.23 times your weight (lbs.) minus 6.8 times your age. Then add 66 to determine your total BMR. Women follow the same formula but multiply their height by 4.7, their weight by 4.35 and their age by 4.7, then add 655 to get their total BMR.
  3. Use Harris Benedict Formula. This formula helps to determine your calorie needs based on the BMR and activity level.
    • Those that perform very little exercise should multiple their BMR by 1.2 to determine their daily calorie need.
    • Those that take part in light exercise daily should multiply their BMR by 1.375.
    • People who participate in sports or moderate exercise at least 3-5 days each week should multiply the BMR by 1.55.
    • Those that participate in hard exercise or strenuous sports 6-7 days each week should multiply their BMR by 1.725.
    • Those that have a very physically demanding job or participate in very hard workouts like 2-a-day training schedules every day should multiply the BMR by 1.9 to determine their daily calorie needs.
  4. Think Muscle-to-Fat Ratio. Bodies that contain more muscle require more calories than those that do not have a high muscle mass. Because they weigh more, obese people tend to overestimate the number of calories they need, leading to additional weight gain.
  5. Get Help from Dietitians. If you are still unsure how to proceed you can work with a professional dietician to better understand the number of calories you should be consuming to maintain your dietary needs.

How to Calculate Calories You Burn Per Day

  1. Determine Your BMR. You can calculate your BMR by hand as outlined above or you may use a BMR calculator on line. Simply apply your height, weight and any other relevant data to the BMR formula to determine the minimum amount of calories you need to achieve basic bodily functions.
  2. Calculate Calories Burned during Activity. Your BMR only shows you the calories you are burning performing activities like digesting food and breathing. You will need to determine the calories you are burning performing other activities throughout the day to determine how many calories you are burning throughout the day. Calorie calculators can help you determine an approximate value for the amount of calories you might burn performing different activates. They are typically broken down into two groups.
    • Moderate Exercise. This is defined as activities which burn 3.5-7 calories a minute. Some form of this activity should be performed at least five times a week.
    • Vigorous exercise. This is defined as activities that burn more than seven calories a minute. Because these activities are more strenuous they only need to be performed three times a week.

    Here is an activity calorie calculator you can use: http://primusweb.com/fitnesspartner/calculat.htm

  3. Add All Together. Add the total you achieved when calculating your BMR and add it to the amount of calories you burn performing various activities to get a feel for how many calories you burn each day.
  4. Get Final Result. This final result will tell you how many calories you burn each day. It will help you determine how you might need to adjust the amount of calories you burn or take in to get the health results you desire.

How to Calculate Calories You Need for Weight Loss

  1. Know Your BMR. Before cutting calories from your diet, make sure you know your BMR. Make sure you have enough calories to cover this amount so you do not lose out on proper body function.
  2. Get Your Calories Burned in Activity. People who are trying to lose weight often do so by increasing their activity level. You need to make sure you are taking in enough calories to cover the activities you are performing. The Harris Benedict Formula can be used to better determine how many calories you need to take in in order to maintain the activity level you take on every day.
  3. Avoid Over Burning Your Fat. In order to burn a pound of fat your body needs a 3500 calorie deficit. However, simply restricting your diet is not going to be enough to achieve this. You will need to increase your overall activity level in order to get the results you desire. You should not try to lose more than 1-2 pounds each week. If you were simply doing this based on calorie restriction this would mean creating a 500 calorie deficit each day. If you are within 10 pounds of your weight goal, severely restricting your calories can lower your metabolism, causing your body to hoard calories rather than burn them. In the initial weeks you may lose water weight or excess bloat so if you wind up losing more this should not be concerned. You will likely reach a plateau losing 1-2 pounds a week after your body sheds the excess water it has been holding.
  4. Record Your Intake. Watching how many calories you take in by keeping a food journal that tracks what you eat is an easy way to determine how many calories you are absorbing. You can also use websites or apps that will calculate these calories for you so you can stay on top of your diet. Seeing the calories you are taking in will help you stay on track by making you be accountable for what you are eating.

How to Calculate Calories in Food

  1. Check Nutritional Information. Note how much fat, carbohydrates and protein are in the food you are eating. Most foods will have this information on the nutritional label, but you can also use an online database to determine the calories in things like fruit or vegetables.
  2. Calculate from Carbs. First determine how many of the calories in the food will come from carbohydrates. In general, carbs contain 4 calories for every gram, so multiply the number of carbs listed on the label by 4.
  3. Get from Fat. Note how many calories in your food are coming from fat. There are about 9 calories of fat per gram, so multiply the grams of fat in your serving by 9.
  4. Derive from Protein. Finally, find out how many carbs in the food are coming from protein. There are four calories per gram for protein, so multiply the number of protein grams in your food by 4.
  5. Count the Total Number. Total the three numbers you achieved above. This will tell you how many calories you will consume if you eat the food that you have been totaling.

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