I've scoured the internet and can't find anything regarding the number
of calories per day we should eat. I've gained about 45 of my 130
pounds that I lost in 2002. Can you please help guide me towards a
reasonable daily caloric intake? Thanks for all you do to keep us on
What an excellent question. We tend to get so wrapped up in how many
grams of protein and ounces of water we should be consuming, that
often we totally forget that even after weight loss surgery, we are
still the product of calories in, versus calories used. And if we
don’t watch calories, then the pounds will return.
That being said, I am a great believer in
life-style changes rather than “diets.” We have all tried diets and
know they don’t work. But there is an awareness that we can gain from
journaling and recording the number of calories that we consume.
There are a few ways to determine how many
calories you should be eating. Many weight loss surgery practices or
gyms have devices that fairly accurately determine how many calories
you use each day. You breathe into a tube for these devices, and after
about 15 minutes you are given the total number of calories you
consume daily. These machines take into account your metabolism, which
is very important in the calculation.
There are also consumer devices that you wear on
your arm that determine your daily caloric expenditure. BodyBugg and
SenseWear are two such devices. They run about $400.
However if you don’t have access to these
devices, there is a reasonably accurate formula that you can use
called the Harris-Benedict formula, which will give you something
called your basal metabolic rate (BMR) to determine how many calories
To determine your calorie expenditure use the
For women the formula is:
655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age
in years) = BMR (Women).
For men the formula is:
66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age
in years) = BMR (Men)
Then you have to determine your Activity Level.
This is where it gets tricky.
If you are sedentary: BMR x 20 %
If you are lightly active: BMR x 30 %
If you are moderately active (You exercise 3 to 4
times per week): BMR x 40 %
If you are very active (You exercise intensely 5
or more days per week): BMR x 50 %
If you are extra active (You do hard labor or are
in athletic training, or exercise intensely 5 or more days per week
for 3 or more hours per day): BMR x 60 %
Add your Activity Level number to your BMR =
Daily Calorie Expenditure
As an example if Chantal now weighs 190 lbs., is
5’6” tall, is 32 years old and is lightly active (I am just making up
her height, age and activity level), this is how many calories she
655 + (4.3 x 190) + (4.7 x 66) – (4.7 x 32) OR
655 + 817 + 310.2 – 150.4 = 1631.8. This would be Chantal's BMR.
Since she is lightly active:
1631.8 x .3 = 489.54 (Activity Level)
1631.8 + 489.54 = 2121.34 calories used in a day.
To lose 1 pound of weight, you must consume
3500 calories less than what you eat. If you want to lose 1 pound per
week, you have to eat 500 less calories per day than what you eat. If
you are not losing weight then you have miscalculated your activity
level or you are not correctly calculating the calories of the food
you are eating. This is particularly true if you aren’t weighing and
measuring your food.
Therefore Chantal should consume 2121.34-500 =
1621.34 calories per day to lose a pound per week.
I hope this makes sense to you and thank you,
Chantal, for the question.