And how to calculate your daily allowance so you don’t gain weight or harm your health
How many calories does a person spend in a day? As you might guess, there is no single answer to this question. Calorie expenditure is an individual thing that depends on genetics, gender, age, height, weight, environment and physical activity habits. Taking all these factors into consideration, you can calculate how many calories you personally consume per day and how many you need in order not to put on weight.
What are calories, kilocalories and calorie content of food
A calorie is a unit of thermal energy, or more precisely, the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius. The word comes from the French calorie, which is derived from the Latin calor, meaning “heat”. The term “calorie” was first coined by Swedish physicist Johann Wilke in the 18th century, and has since been used to define the amount of energy the body needs to function properly.
The caloric value of a food is the amount of energy the body receives when digesting it. The three basic elements in food – protein, fat, carbohydrates (FFA) – contain different amounts of calories and therefore provide different amounts of energy to the body. Most manufacturers indicate the nutrient content on packaging in kilocalories to reduce the number of numbers. 1 kilocalorie (kcal) = 1,000 calories (calories). The word ‘calorie’ is more commonly used colloquially, simply because it is easier to pronounce.
Calculating your daily calorie limit is one of the tools with which you can control your weight and take care of your health.
What does the Daily Calorie Calorie Calorie Allowance depend on?
Calorie intake, like metabolism in general, is affected by many factors, slowing down or speeding up the process, such as taking medication, muscle mass, liking spicy or salty foods, smoking, etc. Daily calorie intake depends primarily on daily physical activity, but in general men burn more calories than women. The average calorie intake comes down to the following numbers, which change with age: the older a person is, the fewer calories they need:
Inactive lifestyle: 2,000 to 2,400 kcal for men, 1,600 to 2,000 for women.
Moderate activity: 2200-2800 kcal for men, 1800-2200 for women.
Active lifestyle: 2400-3000 kcal for men, 2000-2400 kcal for women.
Calorie intake is also affected by seasonal changes in the weather. Colder climates require more energy to maintain a constant body temperature, as the metabolism increases to produce heat. Walking outside in winter, therefore, consumes more calories than a summer stroll.
How to calculate your calorie intake per day
To find out how many calories you need, you need to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and work out your activity ratio.
Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the approximate number of calories you burn in a 24-hour period at rest. In other words, it is the minimum amount of energy needed to keep the body alive, including breathing, heartbeat and digestion, but excluding physical activity.
In order to calculate BMI, nutritionists use two standard equations: the Harris-Benedict formula and the Mifflin-St. George formula, named after the scientists who developed the principle of counting calories.
The 1984 version of the Harris-Benedict formula looks like this:
Calculation for men: 88.362 + (13.397 × weight in kilograms) + (4.799 × height in centimetres) – (5.677 × age in years)
Calculation for women: 447,593 + (9,247 × weight in kilograms) + (3,098 × height in centimeters) – (4,330 × age in years)
The Mifflin-St. Geor formula, created in 1990, is recognised by the WHO as giving a result that is closer to the truth:
Calculation for men: (10 × weight in kilograms) + (6.25 × height in centimetres) – (5 × age in years) + 5
Calculation for women: (10 × weight in kilograms) + (6.25 × height in centimeters) – (5 × age in years) – 161
Once you have calculated your BMI, multiply it by your physical activity rate, so that your calorie intake calculation is appropriate for your lifestyle. These are the figures taken as standard:
1.2 if your activity is limited to moving from bed to sofa;
1.375 if you have heard about the benefits of activity and exercise up to three times a week;
1.55 if you’re no stranger to moderate exercise three to five times a week;
1.725 if you’re a heavy exerciser six to seven times a week;
1.9 if you’re working out hard (working out physically, working out twice a day, doing weight lifting).
If these formulas sound too complicated, find a calorie calculator on the internet or ask your nutritionist to calculate one for you.
How many calories are burned with different types of activity
At rest, about 20% of the energy consumed is used for brain metabolism. Other calories are burned during basal metabolism – circulation, digestion, respiration, cellular respiration, tissue repair and growth. We also need mechanical energy to work the skeletal muscles to maintain posture and move around.
How many calories are spent when you eat depends on the time of day. The body burns about 60 kcal during the morning meal, 85 kcal at lunch and 60 kcal at dinner. Most energy is spent on digesting proteins of animal origin: 30-40% of the nutritional value of protein is spent on its digestion. Consumption of carbohydrates is 4-7%, and of fat only 2-4%.
While sleeping, an average person eats 60-70 kcal per hour, provided that they have slept for at least 8 hours and have not had a full night of carbohydrates or fat.
Calorie expenditure at work depends on mental and physical activity. On average, office workers burn about 550 kcal during an eight-hour working day, and up to 1,050 kcal for employees in the service and education sectors. Those who work the hardest burn about 2,000 kcal, i.e. heavy goods workers, sportspeople and others.
Even if you sit at home, you have a good chance of burning more calories. Resting in a lying position will destroy 70 kcal per hour, but you will spend 120-280 kcal on cleaning (50 kcal on dishes, 280 kcal on windows and 280 kcal on the floor). A ten-minute shower afterwards – minus 40 kcal.
Exercising is the biggest calorie-burning activity. Jogging provides 380 kcal, swimming provides 200-600 kcal (depending on the style), cycling 220-450 kcal, skating or roller skating 200-620 kcal, dancing 350 kcal, skipping rope 350 kcal. Yoga lovers burn about 250-300 calories in an hour. An hour of circuit training will burn about 350-400 calories, while a weightlifting session will average about 400 calories.
If you don’t like sports, but you like walking, a brisk walk will burn about 140 calories per hour, and a brisk walk will burn about 180 calories per hour.
How to increase your calorie intake if you want to lose weight
If your goal is to maintain your weight, you need to consume as many calories as you spend by maintaining what is called calorie balance. However, if your goal is to lose weight, you should consume more calories than your body receives.
The easiest rule of thumb used by nutritionists is to reduce the energy content of food by 500 kcal per day. There is no need to rush – it is advisable to reduce weight for at least six months, and then recalculate the calorie limit again and decide whether to continue.
250-500g (depending on your body weight) is a safe weight loss in a week. Exceeding this figure means loss of muscle mass and water, which is not safe for your health. It is also not advisable to consume less than 1200 kcal per day, as this extreme diet leads to a lack of micro and macronutrients essential for normal body function.