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Oh, Calories…

Ever wondered how much you should *really* be eating? Well you should! Many of us tend to overeat or even under-eat. Overeating is more recognizable. Most people who do it, sort of know they’re doing it. Under-eating is a different story. Some people “just aren’t hungry” enough to eat all the time. The bad part about that – is that means their metabolism is SO slow that they aren’t feeling hunger like other people. And eating too little makes your metabolism stall even further – AND it makes your body store fat. Bad combination, huh?

The good news is, this can all be fixed – with a little knowledge and some new habits.

First, you have to figure out how many calories you burn in a day without trying. This is your basal metabolic rate (BMR). It’s what your body burns just by living. You can estimate your BMR by using some online calculators. The one I use is this one: http://www.bmrcalculator.org/

Basically, you’ll enter in your height, weight, age, and sex and the calculator will tell you what your BMR is. Now, you must account for your activity level in addition to the BMR to figure out what you *really* burn in a day. Unless you’re literally bed-ridden, you are burning more than your BMR. The activity levels vary based on how hard you work out and how many times per week. That activity level adds to your BMR to give you total calories burned per day. So, if you wanted to stay at your same weight, you’d want to eat right around that number of calories every day. If you wanted to lose a little weight, a good rule of thumb is to eat about 500 calories less per day than what your BMR + Activity level amount shows. Using the site I mentioned above, you can figure out your BMR, then right below that, there is a chart that you can use to determine what your total is based on activity. Take that number, write it down somewhere.

Now, to get a handle on what you’re really eating, you should start logging your intake. I use fatsecret.com to do this. I don’t use it much anymore because I now have a good handle on what my 1600-1800 calories looks like (that’s how much I should be eating every day, so yours may be different!) Just create a free account there and start logging every single thing you eat and drink. Don’t overlook things like sauces and dressings too!

After a few days of this, you’ll get to seeing your patterns. This is a tool you’ll be so glad you found, because really, calories in versus calories out is the BASIS for any healthy diet. From there, you can start thinking about protein, carbs, fats, ratios, etc. I’ll hit on this in another post, I promise!

If you already use another calorie tracking program, I’d love to hear about it – comment below! 🙂

~To your health~

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