The Basics on Calorie
What is a calorie? A lot of people are misinformed about what calorie is all about. In their minds, it’s just some number that can make a person fatter if taken in excess. It is not just about that. Calorie can be explained scientifically but easily understandable.

Calorie is an energy found in foods. It is necessary to eat calories because only calories can get the temperature up one notch (1 degree celsius) for every gram of water and that is important. The calorie intake gets people through their day – the energy from the calories keeps a person going, as consumed by food and beverage. While everyone is used to talking about calorie being at 1, the truth is that it is not just 1 calorie; it is in kilocalories or 1000 calories.

So for example:

You’re eating a cookie with a carbohydrate content of 4 calories per gram of sugar. In truth it is 4000 calories per gram. Every gram of sugar has the energy of 4 degrees celsius at 1000 grams or 1 kilo gram of water.

Burn, Baby, Burn! How to Count Calories
Each person is unique. What may be applicable for you is not a good program for another. It is false to think that in order to lose weight you need to eat just 1200 calories per day or to gain; you must eat more than 2500 calories daily. What if that number is too much or too little?

There are two factors that affect calorie count: activity level and body size. A bigger person needs more compared to a small framed person. Same rationale goes for the active person compared to one who is dormant at most times.  Also, women use up lesser than men. Each person has a different need.

To get your needed daily calorie intake, here is the calorie calculator (Harris-Benedict formula):

Men: BMR = 66 + (13.7 X wt in kg) + (5 X ht in cm) – (6.8 X age in years)

Women: BMR = 655 + (9.6 X wt in kg) + (1.8 X ht in cm) – (4.7 X age in years)

BMR is Basal Metabolic Rate or the amount of energy (in calories) needed by the body while at rest. Your weight (kilograms), height (centimeters) and age (years) are the determining factors. You also have to multiply that with your activity level. It is also important to provide the “true” figures to get the most accurate result.

Activity Level:

Sedentary – No exercise time in a week. (1.2)

Lightly Active – Exercising at least once a week. (1.375)

Moderately Active – Exercising at least 3 times a week. (1.55)

Very Active – Exercising is a daily activity and part of a lifestyle. (1.725)

Extra Active – Exercising is synonymous to work and it keeps you on your feet all day. (Ex. Professional Athletes) (1.9)

Achieve your Target Weight

This is how to compute for your BMR:

Example: Female, 58 kg, 167.6 cm, 25 years old

BMR = 655 + 556.8 + 301.68 – 117.5 = 1631

Activity Level = 1631 x 1.375 (lightly active) = 2243 calories

That is your BMR or the calories you need in minimum per day just to get by. But what if you want to lose weight or to gain weight? That is another set of computation. You need to fall within the healthy BMI range as well which is 18.5 to 24.9. Less than that is considered underweight and more than that is overweight.

According to the sample above, if you want to maintain your weight then, it is necessary for you to eat 1887 calories per day. But what if you want to weigh 4 kg lighter?

BMR = 655 + 518.4 + 301.68 – 117.5 = 1357.58 x 1.375 (activity level) = 1867 calories

This is what you need to consume if you want to get your weight down to 54 kilograms. Is this within the healthy BMI range?

BMI = weight in lbs divided by height in inches (squared) =  118.8/(66 x 66) = .0272727

Correcting factor (metric) of 703 x .02727 = 19.2 BMI

Yes, that is still in the healthy range.

Losing Calories Depends on You!

A pound of body fat is roughly 3500 calories. This means that if you reduce your diet with 100 calories per day, then, in 35 days, you will lose 1 pound. With this equation, you now know how to count calories, how many pounds you want to lose and the timeline on how you are going to lose it so that you can achieve your target weight.  What is 100 calories? It is missing out on a slice of bread with butter every day for 35 days.

You can jumpstart your weight loss and of course lose more than 1 pound per month. Just remember that the lowest number of calories you are to take in is 1300 calories. Lower than that poses a health risk. You will not be able to get the nutrients you need if you eat less than 1300 daily. If you force your body in a starvation mode, your BMR is affected and then, you will have a difficult time losing weight. The other side of it is that if you overeat after your starvation mode, the weight will pile up again and faster because of your lowered BMR. You have to eat if you want to lose weight, ironic, right?

Being healthy is a lifestyle. You have to eat right and exercise. Stay away from foods that can give more harm than good.

How do you lose the weight? It is normal to start with at least 15% less of your target BMR. On the sample above:

1867 * 15% = 279 calories

Minimize your daily caloric intake with 279 calories and with that you will lose 1 pound in 12 days. While you are losing weight, the rate in which you are losing will also decrease (1 pound in 10 days, then 8, then 6 and so on) and you will get to your target weight faster until you reach your goal. That is by reducing your food intake alone. Excercising is not yet computed at this point.

279 calories is one hambuger patty, a jelly doughnut, two servings of ice cream or a slice of pie. Skip the dessert and you will lose weight. Going back to exercise, if from lightly active, you can become moderately active (30 minutes of uninterrupted vigorous activity like walking, running, aerobics, dancing etc..) then that is an extra 200 calories or almost 1 lb for 12 days (since 279 calories is 1lb every 12 days).

Check the Label
There are 4 calories in every gram for Carbohydrates and Proteins. For Fats, it is 9 calories/gram. Eating fiber is a bonus since it can be deducted from the amount of total carbs. (non-digestible). Check the labels and you must have these in tow:

Kitchen scale, calculator, measuring spoons and cups, food list with calorie content per gram and diet journal.