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How to estimate how many calories to eat

Determining your calories and macronutrients will not be perfect, and it is not necessary for you to be healthy or loose weight. Some of you may like knowing what targets to aim for and if you are like that, this is for you! Below I outline a simple approach to find out how much food is right for you. Any app, calculator, or chart that shows how many calories you should be having is simply an estimate. That being said, you may need to adjust these throughout this process and that’s okay. First let’s go over a few definitions of terms that may or may not look familiar to you. A calorie is simply a measurement of energy. More specifically, it is the amount of energy needed to raise exactly 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius. The more food we consume, the more calories we consume, the more energy we take in. Macronutrients are what the food consume gets broken down into. The 3 most common ones you should pay attention to are carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Carbohydrates are used for energy that is needed mainly for higher intensity exercise. Proteins help build tissues like muscle, collagen, and create healthy skin and nails. In addition to making hormones and enzymes used for countless purposes in our bodies. Proteins, along with fiber help keep us full in between meals. Fats are used to produce hormones, create healthy cell membranes, and to provide an energy source for longer duration lower intensity style exercise. One macronutrient is no better or worse than the other, and no single macronutrient in isolation is inherently bad for you. I want to keep things easy so here is the easiest way to determine how many calories, and how much of each macronutrient you should aim for each day.

Calories If your goal is to lose weight, multiply your body weight by the following. 10-12 if you are lightly active (less than 3 hours of exercise per week) 12-14 if you are moderately active (3-7 hours of exercise per week) 14-16 if you are very active (more than 7 hours of exercise per week) If your goal is to maintain weight, multiply your body weight by the following. 12-14 if you are lightly active 14-16 if you are moderately active 16-18 if you are very active If your goal is to gain weight, multiply your body weight by the following. 16-18 if you are lightly active 18-20 if you are moderately active 20-22 if you are very actively active So if you are looking to lose weight, and you currently weigh 175 lbs., and exercise 4 hours per week, you would multiply 175 by 12 and 14 to provide you with an estimated calorie range. Which would result in you looking to stay between 2,100 and 2,450 calories per day. Once you have your calories set, you can look to determine how many grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fats you should target. Protein 0.7 – 1 gram per lbs. of body weight. Using our previous example of 175. If you weigh 175 lbs., you should be aiming to hit about 122 – 175 grams of protein. Fats Fats can be 0.3 – 0.5 grams per lbs., which would give you a range of 52 – 87 grams of total fat per day. Carbohydrates Carbohydrates along with fats are the macronutrients that vary the most amongst people. For carbohydrates, a good starting point would be between 1 - 3 grams of carbohydrates per lbs. of body weight. So, for our 175 people, that would equal 175 – 525 grams of carbohydrates. Yes, this is a very big range of carbs to have per day. Carbohydrates will be determined more by your physical activity and body composition goals more so than anything else. If you are very active and do a lot of endurance training or serious resistance training, you will likely need more carbs than your co-worker that exercises a few times per week and is just looking to lose some extra weight. If you are reading this, you probably will be closer to 1 – 2 grams of carbs per pound of body weight per day. Here are the final ranges for our imaginary person that is looking to lose their first 5 lbs. and is currently weighing 175 lbs. Calories: 2,100 – 2,450 per day Protein: 122 – 175 grams per day Fats: 52 – 87 grams per day Carbohydrates: 175 – 350 grams per day In order to double check and make sure your macronutrients are within the range of your estimated calories, use the following formulas. Protein: total grams of protein x 4 = total calories from protein Fats: total grams of fat x 9 = total amount of calories from fat Carbohydrates: total grams of protein x 4 = total calories from carbohydrates. Example 175 grams of protein x 4 = 700 calories from protein per day 87 grams of fat x 9 = 783 calories from fats per day 200 grams of carbs x 4 = 800 calories from carbs per day Total calories: 700 calories from protein + 800 calories from carbs + 783 calories from fats = 2,283 total calories. And lets say we are eating 3 meals per day, that would be 761 calories per meal. You can always adjust these based on your preferences and what you feel like you can stick to the most. But remember, and this is crucial, so please pay attention! If you increase more of one macronutrient, you must decrease one of the others! If you fail to do this, you will run the risk of overeating and going over your target calories, which could lead to unintended weight gain. The most successful clients I have worked with manipulate carbohydrates and fast and keep protein consistent. These recommendations are a starting point for those of you that may have no idea where to start but want to lose those first few pounds. If you want a more targeted, and specific approach to your nutrition, fill out this form here and I will send you a 100% personalized nutrition plan to help you!

All the best,

Tim Stiroh

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