Of late, I have been reading a lot of advice on how many calories women should consume each day to maintain a healthy weight. Frankly, the advice has left me feeling hungry and defeated as I consume far more than the recommended amount of calories suggested in almost everything I have read in print and online.
There are many factors to consider when determining how many calories are reasonable for an individual to consume: how often they exercise, how vigorously they exercise, their height, weight, gender, muscle mass, and so on and so forth. One of the first steps to determining how many calories you need to consume to achieve your ideal weight is calculating your BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate.
So what is BMR and why is it so important? BMR is the number of calories your body burns at rest to maintain normal body functions. It is the amount of calories per day your body burns, regardless of exercise, and it changes throughout your life.
To determine your BMR, first use the link included in this blog post.
The second step to determining how many calories to consume daily is to use the formula below, found in the November 2013 issue of Shape Magazine. Simply multiply your BMR by the appropriate number below, given your level of activity:
Sedentary – little or no exercise: 1.2
Lightly active – exercise 1 to 3 days per week: 1.375
Moderately active – exercise 3 to 5 days per week: 1.55
Very active – exercise 6 to 7 days per week: 1.725
Extremely active – exercise 6 to 7 days and have a physical job: 1.9
I’m happy to report that this advice aligns more closely with the realities of how much I need to eat to maintain or lose weight without feeling overly hungry. And thankfully, the number of calories is much higher than the advice that had me feeling defeated.
One last note: It is possible to increase your BMR. You can do this by increasing the amount of time you exercise, how often you exercise, the intensity at which you exercise, or even changing your method of exercise. I also recommend adding weight lifting to your workout regimen, as muscle requires your body to expend more energy (calories) than fat.