If we’re looking at this month in terms of weight management as well as general health and fitness then we need to be aware of what we are actually consuming. Yes, I’m talking calories.
A calorie is a unit of energy – One calorie is the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. The calories in food provide energy in the form of heat which allows our bodies to function.
How many calories does a person need each day?
The NHS provide a rough guide that suggests men should should consume around 2,500 calories per day, and that women should be on an intake of around 2,000 calories per day. This is a very rough guide and is based on an “average” person (whatever that is).
In all reality, caloric needs are entirely dependant upon the individual, their goals, activity levels and starting point amongst other things. We can work this out using a couple of simple calculations, or in this case, a couple of links to external sites to do it for you…
Let’s talk about the caloric needs of the body.
First off, BMR – Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the number of calories you would need to eat each day just to process the most basic of bodily functions while at rest. If your weight were to increase so would your BMR.
Next, TEF – Thermal Effect of Food. This is the energy required by your body to digest and absorb food and beverages.
And, TEA – Thermal Effect of Activity. This relates to the calories required to complete all forms of activity throughout the day, deliberate exercise or daily tasks.
Why are these things important?
If we use all of the above information together we can work out our Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) or simply put, the total number of calories we burn each day.
BMR + TEF + TEA = TDEE.
Wow, that’s a whole lot of information if you’re just starting out! To make it all easier for you to work out head over to the TDDE Calculator here. You’ll be asked to fill in the following details: gender, age, weight, height, and activity level – be honest on all of these details, incorrect information here is not going to help you in the long term. Don’t worry about the body fat percentage if you don’t know it, you’ll get a good estimate without it.
Once you have input all of this information hit the “calculate!” button and you’ll be taken to a page where it gives you the information you want: Your Daily Maintenance Calories.
If you want to keep your weight the same your daily maintenance calories is the number of calories you need to be consuming. If you want to lose weight then we are going to adjust this number, reducing it by up to 500 calories. And similarly if you would like to gain weight we would add up to 500 calories per day to your maintenance number.
***I do not encourage very low calorie diets, they do not work as they leave you feeling hungry and then you end up in a food binge. Ideally your weight loss or “cutting” calories should be no lower than around 1450 calories per day. Slow and steady wins the race.***
Now that we have learned a little more about the body and it’s caloric needs we need a way to track them. I highly recommend downloading MyFitnessPal to your mobile phone; you can search for the foods you eat, add your own recipes, scan in food via barcode and select portion size as well as sectioning your food intake into breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. You can also track your water intake on MyFitnessPal as we discussed yesterday.
This is all I would like to give you for today, as I said earlier, if you’re new to this type of information then it is a lot to take in. It’s also only the 2nd of January and it’s probably the first day that you’re really actually thinking about any of this.