Sunday, June 8, 2014

Nutrition Education: Calories

Do you ever see those people that constantly plan out what they eat and hit exactly what their calorie goal is almost every day? Well, it really is not as hard as it looks! The goal really is not to obsess over what you eat and be tedious in portion sizing and looking up ingredients--it's about being smart and conscious about what you are eating. 
First thing to become aware of is how many calories does your body need in a day to keep it running efficiently? 

What I use to figure out how many calories I need is through a formula called EER or Estimated Energy Requirement. This is the total amount of calories that your body on average will need per day based on your sex, height, weight, age and physical activity. 

The formulas listed are for men and women 19 years or older. 

Women: [(354 – (6.91 X age)] + PA* X [(9.36 X wt) + (726 X ht)] 

Men: [662 – (9.53 X age)] + PA* X [(15.91 X wt) + (539.6 X ht)] 

Ht= height 
Wt= Weight
PA= Physical Activity

Here is a general chart for finding out what your physical activity levels are. 

Physical Activity
Typical living activities
Low Active
Plus 30-60 minutes of moderate activity
Plus 60+ minutes of moderate activity
Very Active
60+ moderate and 60+ vigorous or over 120 minutes of moderate activity

How do I decide if my exercise is moderate or vigorous?
My rule of thumb is that if i'm sweating--its vigorous. However that could mean different things for different people. Examples of moderate exercise could be walking, casual bike rides, playing volleyball with a big group, etc. Vigorous exercise could be considered going on the elliptical, running, soccer, and more. 

Now here's the real question: what if I'm just terrible at math?!
Don't fret! Here is an online calculator that you can just type in your info and it will give you exactly how many calories you will need on average. 

So now that you now know how many calories you need in a day, it is time to figure out how to plan to eat that many!

1. Plan out your day! If you know that you will be on the go all day-- pack a lunch and snacks to go on the road with you. 

2. Don't skip breakfast!! It is crucial that you get your metabolism going because this will help your body process food more efficiently throughout the day. 

3. If you know how many meals you will eat throughout the day, then plan accordingly to split the calories up. For instance, I was allowed about 2100 if i'm going to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks I could save 300 calories for snacks (150 a piece) and 600 for each meal on average. 
Example of a Food Journal.

4. Track your calories! If you don't have time to manually calculate them, there are apps everywhere for that! My personal favorite is (also an app) because it is easy to use and you can even track your exercise. If you don't like this, than just keep a food journal. Write down what and about how much you ate of each item. Not only will this help you remember what you put into your body, it will encourage you to eat healthier!

5. Don't just count calories--make your calories count! Make sure that when you are counting calories you are making sure that those calories are coming from different food groups and have supporting vitamins and minerals in them to keep your body going.

6. If you like to create your own recipes you can calculate its calories by taking the known foods calorie amounts and adding them all up--don't forget to portion size!!
7. Exercise is your friend. Not only will it put you in a better mood, it also allows your body to use up that energy!

8. If you are looking to lose weight, it is recommended to lose about one pound per week depending on how much weight you want to lose. To do this, we are going to have to do just a little bit more math! There are 3500 calories in a pound. To lose this in one week, you will have to divide it by seven. This means that you need to lose about 500 calories per day between exercise and eating less calories (a mix of both is preferable). 

9. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't stress over this. It is to better your health, so if it is stressing you out take a deep breath and just start simple. Look up meals that you eat on a regular basis and make sure that you know the calorie amounts are in those meals... this will give you a better idea for the rest of your day without having to plan excessively.

Thanks for Reading!