Calories Count – Part Deux

Despite some internet diet claims to the contrary, weight is maintained by balancing the number of calories taken in by the number of calories expended during the average day. No short cuts. Therefore, a common question for all of us is, “How many calories do I need everyday?” I’m all for simplicity and Professor Roberta Anding has written extensively about this in her course Nutrition Made Clear (a fascinating course available at The Teaching Company). She references the Hamwi equation, that gives us simple calculations to find our Ideal Body Weight (IBW):

Women – Allocate 100 pounds for the first five feet, then 5 pounds for each additional inch over five feet. For a woman 5 feet 4 inches (100 pounds + 4 inches x 5 pounds) equals 120 pounds.

Men – Allocate 106 pounds (no, it’s not cheating, men have more muscle mass) for the first five feet, then 6 pounds for each additional inch over five feet. For a man 5 feet 11 inches (106 pounds + 11 inches x 6 pounds) equals 172 pounds.

I know what you’re thinking. For most of us we haven’t weighed that much since high school (if then). But that’s the math based on current research.

Now, to get the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the number of calories we need just to keep the heart pumping and the lungs breathing without any other activity, we multiply the calculated Ideal Body Weight by 10. For our 120 pound woman this equals 1,200 calories (120 lbs. x 10) per day; for our 172 pound man this equals 1,720 calories (172 lbs. x 10) per day. If you are relatively sedentary during the day you can add 30% more calories to the BMR. More active folks can add 50 to 100% (for those very physically active) more calories. So our 120 pound woman is able to take in anywhere from 1,560 to 2,400 calories day, based on her activity., For the man, 2,236 to 3,440 calories.

Remember, this is just to maintain our current weight. Anything we eat in excess of those numbers adds baggage with love handles to boot. And to add insult to injury it’s cumulative. Did you know that just an extra 100 calories a day can add 10 pounds in a year? Just eliminating one 12 oz. can of your typical cola drink can eliminate 155 calories. Water anyone? More to follow . . .

About Steve P. Sanders

A general internist writing and sharing ideas and art.

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