Contrary to the current trend, calories DO matter when it comes to weight loss, weight gain, and weight maintenance. For this reason, knowing how many calories you burn in a day is critical information when it comes to achieving your health goals.
In order to figure this out, the first thing we need to do is calculate your BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate. Your basal metabolic rate refers to the amount of calories your body uses for involuntary bodily functions – basically when you are asleep or at rest. It does not take into account the amount of calories you’ll burn from your daily activity, though. That’s your AMR or active metabolic rate. I’ll get into that in a minute.
The BMR formula uses the variables of height, weight, age and gender to calculate your body’s energy expenditure. The only factors it omits are lean body mass (the ratio of muscle-to-fat a body has) and biochemistry. If you have hypothyroid, PCOS, insulin resistance, estrogen dominance, there is no way for the BMR formula to read that – you need blood work and an endocrinologist when dealing with these issues. Barring a hormonal disorder, however, this equation will be fairly accurate overall. One additional caveat, for the very muscular the calorie burn will be slightly underestimated and for those with a higher percentage of body fat the calorie burn will be slightly over estimated.
Use the following BMR Formula for gender to calculate your BMR:
Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) - ( 6.8 x age in years )
After you have run through these simple calculations and come up with your BMR, we need to then calculate your AMR. This next exercise is going to tell us how many calories you are burning in a day without adding in your exercise burn. Simply the amount you burn throughout an average day of your life (sans exercise).
Identify which category you fall into:
- If you are chained to your desk and sedentary most of your day you are a 1.1. People who fall in this category would be receptionists, telemarketers, customer service reps.
- If you are mildly active over the course of your day you are a 1.2. People who fall in this category are housewives, retail sales people, basically folks who are on their feet throughout the day, but not exerting themselves as a part of their jobs (though the moms amongst you might argue with me on this one).
- If you are active and on your feet moving at a fast pace you are a 1.3. I fall into this category as most trainers would. So might a plumber or an electrician. This applies to those that are up, moving, exerting energy, but not working on a chain gang.
- If you are extremely physically active you are a 1.4. Construction workers, professional athletes, essentially anyone who is constantly exerting themselves throughout the course of their day would fit in this group.
Once you have identified which category you best fit take that number and multiply it with your BMR. So, if my BMR is 1300, I would then multiply it by 1.3 and arrive at 1690. Now I’d know that if I eat around 1700 calories a day on the days I don’t work out, I won’t gain weight. Additionally, on the days I do work out I’ll be able to factor in that additional burn and ramp up my AMR even more.
If you are training effectively then you should add an additional calorie burn of 10 calories a minute as a medium sized female and 15 calories a minute as a medium sized male. All of the workouts I create are designed to maximize calorie burn and fat metabolism in the Train With Jillian app. So say I added 30 minutes of focused training into my day and I burned 300 calories during that time frame, then my total AMR would be 2000. Plus the EPOC, or afterburn effect on my metabolism, is likely giving me another 100 or so calories burned over a 24 hour period.
Once you know what you are burning in a day you hold all the cards. You can control how much weight you lose, by how many calories you burn. You can manage your weight by matching your calorie intake to you daily calorie burn. And you can prevent future weight gain by not eating over your daily calorie burn.