By The Numbers

One of the big caloric guidelines I’ve used the past few weeks is the metabolic test I took at the resort.  Basically it’s an RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) test.  First thing one morning after fasting overnight, I sat in a chair with a tube hooked up to my mouth and breathed for 15 minutes or so.  Based on my oxygen usage and carbon dioxide produced, the machine was able to determine how many calories my body burned if I just sat in a chair all day.

If I did absolutely nothing all day, my body burns roughly 1900 calories. In addition, based on the test, it appears that my metabolism is normal, actual about 8% above normal which is acceptable.  The good thing there is that in theory, my body is indeed capable of doing what I need it to do to loss body fat and improve my fitness.  Now the rest is up to me!

Once the test factored in basic activities and a minimum exercise estimate, that number rose to a whopping 2700 calories a day. However, if I actually ate all those calories each day I would at best be maintaining my current weight, which is not the goal at all.

So that leads me back to the age-old question of “How many calories should I eat every day to lose weight?” 

Well, this test made it pretty easy for me.  To stay in the weight loss zone, my personal results show that I will be in calorie deficit if I eat between 1521 and 1901 calories every day – and that’s BEFORE I exercise.  Any exercise I do on top of that creates an even larger caloric deficit to aid in my weight loss goals.

Mystery solved!

That also means that I MUST eat at least 1521 calories every day, any lower and my body will go into starvation mode and be completely counter-productive to my goals. 

I know there are different methods on whether or not you should eat at your RMR maximum or eat back exercise calories, but based on the results I’ve seen, the counseling at the fitness resort and and the research I’ve done, I feel comfortable with my daily caloric intake being in the 1500 range for now.  I know I can eat up to 1900 calories when I need to and still be in calorie deficit mode, and that I can go well over 2000 calories on special occasions and still maintain my weight, but for now, I’m sticking with the 1500+ range. 

There are ways you can calculate an estimate of your metabolism rate without taking the test (which usually costs $100+ if you have it done by a professional) – here is one from WebMD that actually came pretty close to the numbers I got from the actual test.  Based on these estimates, the advice is to reduce your calories eaten or increase your calories burned by 500 with exercise/activity to create a caloric deficit that will result in weight loss.

While this can be a great guideline, if you truly have any metabolism problems (high or low) the calculated estimates won’t give you that, so if you are following the estimated guidelines and not seeing results, then you may want to consider having the actual test done to determine if there are other factors that could be impacting your fitness goals.

It is recommended that the test be retaken after a 50 lb. weight change (up or down) to assess where your caloric intake should be going forward, so I should be able to take this through a bulk of my fitness goals depending on how my body responds.

Everyone’s body is different, and I suggest you research and seek advice from professionals if you can to find out what your calorie levels should be to meet your goals.  Listen to your body and whatever your numbers are, be sure to EAT.  Cutting calories below your minimum levels will only hurt your body and is counterproductive to weight loss. 

I am never hungry at 1500+ calories a day, which makes it so much easier to stick to my little program I’ve got going for myself.  Adding hunger to trying to retrain my body and mind is not a way to sustain the changes I want for myself.

Follow my journey to fitness at The Fit Empress!

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