We hear it almost daily: I’ve been eating healthily for weeks and exercising more, but I don’t lose weight. For those who want to lose weight there is only one golden rule: eat less calories than you consume. Therefor Nasrien will explain you how to calculate your own BMR.
If you eat more, you gain kilos. If your consumption equals your number of calories, your weight remains the same. No rocket science, right? But how many calories can you eat per day? That depends on several factors. Nasrien explains what you need to do to lose weight, gain weight or maintain weight.
Excuses don’t burn calories
What you should never forget is that you should never starve yourself. Eating less than 1200 calories a day is not done. Almost all women among us consume about that many calories without doing anything (all right?). If you would eat less than those 1200 calories, your body could switch to its hunger mode. This would automatically slow down your metabolism and you will start to loose muscle mass. More importantly, you’re not getting the nutrients you need to function.
How do you determine how many calories you need per day?
To determine that, you first need to know how much you need to stay on weight. There is a formula for this: you can calculate your BMR or your mass metabolism. BMR is the metabolism needed to carry out the primary life processes. Think about breathing in and out, heart rate, growth of hair and skin, … and that’s about 60 to 75% (!) of your total daily calorie burning.
You need a few things to be able to make this calculation: your weight, height, age and gender. The more you weigh, the more fuel you need to support your organs. Your age is important because as you get older, muscle mass decreases, so does your calorie requirement. So why is gender so important? Research shows that women’s BMR is up to 10% lower than that of men.
Take your calculator upstairs and calculate your BMR
The base is: 655,1 + (9,563 x weight in kg) + (1,850 x height in cm) – (4,676 x age in years).
So for Nasrien the calculation looks something like this:
BMR = 447 593+ (9.247 x 66) + (3098 x 178) – (4330 x 31) = 1,470.6
We have to be honest, the calculation is of course not 100% correct, because every situation can be different. But you just have to look at the result as a kind of guideline.
Once you’ve calculated your BMR, you’ll know how many calories you would need at least to keep your body alive if you were in bed all day. Therefor it’s also important to take into account all the other things you burn calories with. Example of these are walking your dog, vacuuming, the two floors you need to walk to your desk, your Thursday evening yoga class… Therefore, multiply your BMR by the factor that best matches your activity level:
For those who live a sedentary life: BMR x 1.2
If you do light exercise 1 to 3 times a week: BMR x 1,375
When you train 3 to 5 times a week at an average intensity: BMR x 1.55
Or if you train 6 to 7 days a week at a high intensity: BMR x 1.725
If you have a physically demanding job: BMR x 1.9
For Nasrien that result would be 1470.6 x 1.55. This means she can eat 2 279.43 calories a day if she wants to stay at the same weight. Not bad, right?
How many calories do you have to eat to lose weight?
Once you know how many calories you need to maintain your weight, you simply have to subtract calories again. Exactly how many? To lose about half a kilo a week (a healthy goal, a crash diet is super bad for your body), you need to eat 500 calories less per day. In other words: subtract 500 calories from the number you just found above.
Still, not only can you achieve such a calorie deficit with less to eat, but exercise can also help. Is your intention to exercise more or more intensively? Then eat only 250 fewer calories and increase the number of times or intensity of your workouts so that you can burn 250 extra calories by exercising two to three times a week. If you’re already cycling three days a week, add, for example, a 30-minute walk two days a week. If you’re not so active right now, consider taking a yoga or pilates class.
Whatever you do, know that the days when you’re not physically active at all should reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories.
How many calories do you need to build muscle mass?
Not everyone who counts calories wants to lose weight. Some people’s goal is just to build more muscle. If you want to do that, add 250 to 500 healthy(!) extra calories per day. To gain muscle instead of fat, you need to increase your protein intake to 1.8 to 2 grams per kilogram.