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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Do we need to count calories?

The weather is great and we all need to be outside. And when we are outside doing various physical events we burn calories.

Everyone these days seems to have a wrist gadget that tracks how many calories you burned during your workout.

People post it on FB all the time -Susie Q burned 1 million calories during secret ninja zumba spin pole dancing class in 1 hour.

Why is that important to know? If that is important to know then why do people say you don't need to count the calories that you eat?

Why would you want to know your caloric expenditure without knowing your caloric intake? Doesn't make sense to me but people do it every day thinking that they are making something happen.

People think they know but they don't. If you don't know your calorie requirements or your calorie intake but you track your caloric expenditure after spin class you have proved that you have no idea about what you are doing. It is pointless.

Analytical data is only valuable when all of the variables are present.

The first thing that you should know is your basal metabolic rate or the lowest amount of calories recommended to operate basic life support functions to be alive.

Try this formula out and determine your BMR.

The Harris–Benedict equations revised by Roza and Shizgal in 1984.
Men BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) - (5.677 x age in years)
Women BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) - (4.330 x age in years)

My BMR came out to 1991 calories.

Say I broke 4 cups of power greens and a can of tuna in olive oil down into 4 small evenly sized meals. That sounds healthy right? So total calories for the combined 4 meals is 300 calories.

Then I do a couple of aerobic classes and burn 1000 calories.

So at a minimum I needed 1991 BMR.

I ate 300 calories in 4 meals.

I burned 1000 calories through 2 group classes.

So I came up short on eating by 1691 calories to meet my BMR requirements. Then I burned 1000 through exercise. 1691+1000= 2691. my calorie net loss is 2691, intake was 300.

The deficit is so huge that nothing good can happen. So I lose weight from lean body mass loss and my bodyfat percentage goes up. I now weigh less but I am fatter and weaker than before. But the scale is down so I'm good right! High five me on sparkpeople or my fitness pal!

Next thing that you need to know is calorie requirements for your goal. I use the diet solution program model because it is quick and efficient.

Activity level sedentary = 13
Activity level moderate = 14
Activity level high = 15

So I calculate my bodyweight X activity level to get my maintenance level. 212lbs X 15 = 3180 calories for maintenance.

But say I want to lose weight so I multiply my maintenance calories X .80 to get my deficit calories.
3180 X .80 = 2544 calories a day to lose weight.

Then I refer to my BMR which we said was 1991 calories. And I only ate 300 calories. I came up short 1691 calories.  I burned 1000 calories during exercise. And I'm currently in a -2691 calorie deficit.

Even based upon my calorie requirements I come up short. I need to eat 2544 calories to meet my dieting calorie requirement. I'm short 2544-300 = 2244 calories.

If your calorie intake is too low and your calorie expenditure or loss is too high, your body cannot burn fat and build muscle. Muscle is required as it gives you the performance and aesthetics that you are looking for and it burns fat through the mitochondria.

Do you need to know all this to be successful? - no, if you do it right without knowing. Chances are slim (pun intended) that you will hit the right numbers. So at least once a week check your calorie requirements, your intake and expenditure and see where it comes out. Then you know what you have to do and you are not guessing.

Hope this helps.

Eric Dempsey
Master Sergeant, U.S. Army Retired
Ranger qualified, Infantry
Afghanistan and Iraq veteran with the 101st Airborne Division
NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Weight Loss Specialist
Masters Degree in Exercise Science
Dempseys Resolution Fitness

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