When people try to lose weight, they often think that all they have to do is eat less. If it only were that easy. Calorie restrictions are indeed an important part of weight loss, but that’s not the whole story. Especially when you reduce your food intake, you must make certain that your body still receives the calories and nutrients it needs to function properly. Like Goldilocks, you must figure out how much is too much, too little or just right.
A quick and easy way to estimate your daily calorie needs is to multiply your weight in pounds times your activity level. This method works especially well if you are more or less comfortable with your weight and want only a ballpark figure of your calorie needs.
Especially When You’re on a Diet
You Must Still Satisfy Your Nutritional Needs
If weight loss is your goal, you can choose a number you can realistically achieve from a chart that indicates a range of healthy weight for your height. Then determine your calorie needs based on that number.
Your minimum calorie intake should not be less than 1200 calories per day. When your body senses famine, your metabolism will slow down. You also risk to miss out on important nutrients.
To estimate your daily calorie needs, choose one of the following three activity levels and multiply your health weight for height (in pounds) times 14, 16, or 18.
A Sedentary Lifestyle (sitting, driving, watching TV): Multiply your weight by 14
A Moderately Active Lifestyle (walking, yard work, low impact exercise): Multiply your weight by 16
A Highly Active Lifestyle (strenuous physical work, athletic sports): Multiply your weight by 18
Example (1): Jane weighs 135 pounds and is comfortable with that. She has a moderately active lifestyle. Her approximate daily needs are: 135 x 16 = 2160 calories/day
Example (2): John weighs 224 pounds and wants to lose weight. He is 5’11″ tall and of medium to large body frame. He has a sedentary lifestyle. A healthy weight range for John would be 172 to 189 pounds. His daily needs range from 172 x 14 = 2400* to 189 x 14 = 2645 calories/day (*Start with the lower amount and adjust calories based on weekly weight loss of no more than 2 pounds).
The formula used to determine a healthy weight range is different for men and women:
For women: Calculate 100 pounds for the first 5 feet (60 inches) of height. Add 5 pounds for every additional inch. For example, if Jane is 5 feet 5 inches tall, her ideal weight would be 125 pounds. Give or take 10%, her healthy weight range is between 113 and 138 pounds – depending on her frame size.
For men: Calculate 106 pounds for the first 5 feet (60 inches) of height. Add 6 pounds for every additional inch. So, if John is 5 feet 11 inches tall, ideally he would weigh 172 pounds, or stay within a weight range of plus or minus 10% or 155 to 189 pounds – depending on his frame size.