Weight management doesn’t just involve counting calories. As we’ve covered in the previous days, much depends on the type of calories you’re consuming. But you should still ask the question, “How many calories do I need?”
Knowing your daily caloric needs gives you a benchmark for your food consumption. Eating low glycemic foods ensures you won’t spike your blood sugar levels and experience hormonal imbalances. Consuming the appropriate range of calories ensures you’ll have enough energy to function at an optimum level without gaining weight.
Your daily caloric requirement stems from three factors:
- Basal metabolic rate (BMR), which calculates how much energy your body requires for basic functions while at rest.
- Physical activity.
- Diet-induced thermogenesis, which calculates the energy needed to digest and absorb food.
Thermogenesis comprises only a small portion of daily energy expenditure, while basal metabolic rate generally accounts for the most. Physical activity varies widely. In a sedentary individual it may only make up 15% of total energy use. But in an athlete physical activity can account for 80% of total expenditure.
You can find several calorie calculators online. The one I’ve found most accurate comes from the Mayo Clinic. You can find it here. Use it to determine your optimum level. Then count your calories for a day or two to see how much you actually consume. This will help you manage your portion size and plan for your meals and healthy snacks.
Tomorrow we’ll look at some substances found in your foods that could sabotage your health.