Although there are many new diet fads out there that take calories out of the equation and look solely on specific food groups such as carbohydrates or fat, calories are still important. Although there are many variables, the bottom line is you lose weight when you take in less calories then you are burning throughout the day. The way you choose to take in your calories can change some factors and your health e.g. 1200 calories a day in chocolate may still make you lose weight (and give you a vitamin deficiency) but is not something anyone would recommend. For along time now there has been a recommended daily calorie allowance for men and women, 2500 and 2000 respectively. However, considering that all men and women are not the same its probably about time we get a bit more specific about our calorie allowance.
Calories act as a measure on the amount of energy in food. Carbohydrates and proteins have approx. 4 calories per gram, fats 9 calories per gram and Alcohol releases 7 calories per gram. To work out how many calories you can eat you first must know how many calories you use in a given day. To do this we look at an individuals basal metabolic rate (BMR) alongside a persons daily activity levels.
Basal Metabolic Rate - This is the energy required in order for your body to maintain your body's normal functioning. This varies on your gender, height, weight and age and can be calculated specific to you.
The BMR is how much energy is expended if an individual is constantly at rest and is determined, in part, by the amount of lean tissues (muscle) in the body. The more muscle a person has the higher the BMR and the more calories will be burnt when a person is at rest. The next part of the energy expenditure is how much physical activity a person does through out the day.
Physical Activity - The more activity you do the more energy will be used, this is all activity, a gym workout as well as walking to your car.
Your BMR + Physical activity = Active metabolic rate (AMR)
Your AMR is how many calories you burn in a day, it includes the BMR, the bodies basic functional requirements as well as any activity you do. To maintain your weight you just need to consume the amount of calories indicated in your AMR. To gain weight you need to eat more calories then your AMR (around 350 protein calories) or reduce the physical activity you are doing. To lose weight you need to eat below your AMR or increase your physical activity. The amount you choose to eat below your AMR will determine the rate at which you lose weight, however this should never be below your BMR + 300. It is important you have enough calories to to maintain your bodies normal functioning and enough to do basic activity, such as moving throughout the day. If you want to increase your weight loss it is important that you increase your AMR with more activity. If you stay at a calorie intake of your BMR + 300 or less for more than 9/10 days you will go into starvation mode and slow-down your metabolism, reducing your chances of weight loss success.
To calculate you own BMR and AMR just click HERE.
If you are on a weight loss plan then check this regularly, as these numbers will change as your weight dose.