Saturday, April 17, 2010

Daily Calorie Intake -or- How to completely make up a number that has no relevance whatsoever.

Yesterday's Goal Calories: 1400, Actual calories: 1415
Yesterday's Goal Exercise: 30 minutes, Actual Exercise: 40 minutes (and I finally got my yoga in! Yay!

Everyday I give my daily caloric goal -- currently 1400.  I thought I would share with you a little bit of how I came to that number.

There is a long scientific formula to figure out how many calories you need each day to maintain your weight.  Then there is an additional formula that factors in how much weight you want to lose and how much exercise you do.  I basically worked through those formulas, and then picked a number out of my ass.

Here is the formula: 

655 + (4.3 x your weight in pounds) + (4.7 x your height in inches) - (4.7 x your age in years)

For me this looks like this:

655 + (4.3 x 213.8 = 919.34) + (4.7 x 66 = 310.2) - (4.7 x 38 = 178.6) = 1705.94

1706 is how many calories I need each day to maintain my weight.

Now, to lose 1 pound per week, you need to reduce your calories by 3,500 each week--or 500 calories a day.  You can do this 3 ways: literally reduce the number of calories you take in by 500 each day or burn an extra 500 calories each day or do some combination of both.  I do some combination.  I reduce my calories by about 300 and I burn anywhere from 150-700 calories each day, depending on what I am doing exercise-wise (today I will be burning about 1400 because of 2 hours with my personal trainer!)

So how did I choose 1400?

Well, I have an iPhone app (of course) called Lose It (I highly recommend it) that will figure out your daily calories based on your weight and age and height (I think) AND how active you are AND how much you want to lose per week.  It also adjusts your calories each day as you enter in the food you eat AND the exercise you do (more exercise = more calories you get to eat.  Some days I would run around the block just to eat a brownie.  True story).  This app currently says I need (before exercise) 1411 to loose 2 pounds per week.  If I were to put in the exercises I do, that number quickly goes up to about 1700 a day. That number doesn't match the formula I have and I think 1700 is a lot of calories to eat when I am trying to lose weight. So I stick closer to the 1400.

If you notice, I don't adjust my goal calories to take into account my exercise. So I am actually consuming less that the 1400 on most days. But I thought is not to sweat (pun intended) the extra calories if I worked out for an hour or more that day.  The reality is that I suck at not worrying about those extra calories regardless of the workouts I do (see post entitled: How much does self depreciation weigh).  But that is one of those things I am working on.

I also saw an advertisement for a book by the people who do Prevention Magazine that was supposed to teach you how to choose meals that are around 400 calories and this would help you lose weight.  

So this is how I came about my number--taking all of this into consideration:  I figure 3 meals a day at about 400 calories each and 2 snacks at about 100 calories each.  And there you go.  My completely researched and then pulled out of my ass number.

To be completely honest, if my trainer knew (and any "expert" will tell you) that I was trying to stick to 1400 calories regardless of exercise, she would ream me out.  The body DOES go into fat storage mode when you eat too few calories.  But I was eating about 1700 a day AND working out--and no weight was being lost.  So I am going with 1400 for now and see what happens on the scale on Wednesday.  If I need to tweak a little I will.

Today's Calorie Goal: You guessed it!: 1400
Today's exercise Goal: 2 hours (Yep.  2 hours--I am heading out to my gym to do a Boot Camp class and then an hour with my personal trainer--don't know what to say about THAT).


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