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How can I figure out the amount of calories I need?

Kat Barefield, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

The free Sharecare Fitness App under your Coach tab will do it for you if you're a member. For a general estimation, use the following:

  • 13-15 calories per pound of weight if you get less than 30 minutes of activity per day
  • 15-19 calories per pound of body weight if you get 30-60 minutes of activity per day
  • 19-21 calories per pound of body weight if you get 60-90 minutes of activity per day

Your age, weight, height, gender and average daily activity level determine the amount of calories you need to maintain your current weight. Your goal weight and the timeframe to achieve it determine how many calories below your daily maintenance calories you’ll need to consume each day. As an example, if your maintenance calories are 2000 and you want to lose a pound a week, , your daily calorie intake will need to average 1500 since 1 pound of fat contains 3500 calories (7 days X 500 calories = 3500 calorie daily deficit).

One single fact determines the rate of weight/fat lost: the average daily calorie deficit, which is the difference between how much energy (calories) is expended and the amount consumed – (and you can’t spot reduce). Your weight loss should not compromise health or performance. We recommend you lose 1/2 to 2 pounds per week.

Join the Dr. Oz Move It and Lose It in 2011 Challenge. The program will do it for you. You will create a goal and the system will calculate the calories needed to meet your goal. If your goal is weight loss, your caloric intake should be lower than the total amount of calories burned. The system also allows for you to track your calories (intake and expenditure) across the 11 week period.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
One principle of eating for weight loss or just to stay healthy: It isn't all about calories; it's about staying satisfied. The key is eating nutritionally rich foods, avoiding the toxic ones, and using our body's clues about satiety to help you stop eating when you should.

It's about eating the foods that will help keep you full -- and what "feels right" so that you can achieve and maintain your ideal playing weight. To consume fewer calories than you eat, find your approximate no-waist-loss point, and find your resting metabolic rate and add your physical activities. Here's how:
  1. An easy way to estimate your resting metabolic rate is to multiply your weight in pounds by 8 and add 200, but this is very variable, so if anyone ever offers to measure your real metabolic rate, accept the offer.
  2. To find the calories you burn from physical activity multiply the number of minutes you walk by 4, and your cardiovascular and strength minutes (not the time loitering watching others) by 8. (You can also use the readouts from cardiovascular machines if they have them.)
So let's see how it works:

Say you weigh 150 pounds and do an average of 300 physical activity calories per day (more on some days and fewer on others). That means your basic calories used are:

8 x 150 = 1,200
+ 200 = 1,400
+ 300 in activity = 1,700

So to maintain your weight, you'd need about 1,700 calories a day. To lose a pound a week you'd need to decrease that by about 500 calories a day or increase your physical activity by 500 calories a day or a combination of the two. But calorie tracking is a lot of work, if you do not automate your eating (there are also programs for your handheld devices that can do it for you). The point, though, isn't to track calories; it's to let your body, your stomach, and your brain to give you the signals to stop when you're satisfied, and not stuffed.
YOU: On A Diet Revised Edition: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management

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YOU: On A Diet Revised Edition: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management

For the first time in our history, scientists are uncovering astounding medical evidence about dieting -- and why so many of us struggle with our weight and the size of our waists. Now researchers...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.