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Calorie Calculator: An Efficient Way to Focus on Your Weight Maintenance

We keep hearing people around us talking about counting calories and wanting to cut down on calories, but what exactly is this term called ‘calorie’, and why is it so important to us?  To explain it simply, our bodies need the energy or calories to perform their vital functions like respiration, digestion, circulation etc. and perform additional day-to-day activities such as sitting, sleeping, exercising, etc. The food we consume provides us with this energy our bodies need, and that energy is ‘calories’.

It is vital to calculate our calorie intake because counting calories helps you know whether you consume excess calories than your body needs or not consume enough calories. It is also an essential element in maintaining healthy body weight. An excess calorie consumption means that the calories get stored in the body as fats.

At the same time, not getting enough calories would suggest that you deprive your body of the adequate calories it requires to function, which can hamper your body’s regular functioning. Furthermore, the most crucial element regarding calorie calculation is calculating an estimate of calories that you need to function. 

This article focuses on the importance of counting calories and using a calorie calculator to help plan your fitness regimes.

Calorie Calculation: Essential Elements

Calorie calculation is a broad term that involves various features. Let us understand that better by distributing it in three parts.

Calculating the Number of Calories that Your Body Needs

It is the primary objective of calculating calories. The body requires a certain amount of calories to perform basic activities. For example, your body needs calories to breathe, pump blood, digest etc. These are metabolic activities that use energy that comes through calories. Hence, it is crucial to know how many calories you need for basic body functioning. A calorie calculator considers your BMI or height and weight as the primary measures to estimate your calorie requirements. In addition, it also takes into consideration your physical activity to understand how many calories you are burning other than the metabolic activities. After considering these factors, a calorie calculator helps estimate your calorie requirements for the day.

Calculating Calories from the Foods You Eat

To maintain healthy body weight, the estimate of calorie requirement would not suffice. Although it is of great importance, it is only one step toward healthy body maintenance. Once you know how many calories your body needs, it becomes essential to track your foods. You consume several meals throughout the day, including your breakfast, lunch, dinner and mid-meal snacks. In addition, you also drink some fluids during the day. A food calorie calculator keeps track of all the calories you consume throughout the day and helps you assess whether you have consumed excess calories or a calorie deficit.

It is essential because it will further complement your weight loss journey. It is no secret that calories play a significant role in weight management. If you want to lose weight, well-planned calorie deficit food plans can help. At the same time, if you want to gain weight, your nutritionist or healthcare professional may ask you to eat more calories than your daily requirements. However, your weight loss journey is not limited to counting calories. Instead, it involves various other factors like the nutritional composition of your foods, portion size, meal timings, sleep schedules, stress management, physical activities, etc. But, counting the calories you consume can help enhance your weight loss journey. 

Earlier, due to a lack of technological support, people used to maintain food journals that helped them keep track of their calorie intake. However, counting calories from your foods has become easier with calorie calculators’ evolution.

Calculating Calories that You Burn

Calorie calculation works on two basic principles- calories you consume and calories you burn. We burn calories in various ways. The primary and unavoidable processes that use calories are metabolic activities like breathing, digestion, pumping blood etc. In addition, we burn calories through various exercises like walking, climbing stairs, jogging etc. Therefore, it is essential to calculate the calories you burn throughout the day to calculate the number of calories you retain. 

If the result is negative, you eat fewer calories than you require, which can benefit people who want to lose weight. But, at the same time, if you eat more calories than you need, it may hamper your weight loss journey. However, it depends on several other factors and differs for different individuals. But, a calorie calculator can give you an early indication of whether you are on the right track to achieving your goals or not.

The Importance of Counting Calories

Calorie calculation is an early estimate or indication that can help plan your fitness regime. It is beneficial in many ways. 

As per an individual’s calorie requirements, dieticians and doctors chart out the most suitable modified food plans to achieve their fitness goals. Once you get a customised plan, execution is the next step. However, the key to executing a fitness plan would be your calorie intake and burn. Calculating calories required, calories consumed, and calories burnt can help you execute your fitness plans with ease and direct you on taking further measures to improve your performance towards achieving your goals.

So let us understand the role of calculating calories in your weight loss journey and how to do it right.

Calorie Calculator: The Formula

To calculate the number of calories your body needs, you first need to find out two values- BMR (i.e. basal metabolic rate) and the Active Multiplier. Therefore, the calculations for men and women will be slightly different.

Harris-Benedict Formula for Women

Step 1: Find the BMR

BMR = 655 + (9.6 x Weight in kilos) + (1.8 x Height in cm) – (4.7 x Age in years)

Step 2: Multiply Your BMR by the Appropriate Activity Factor

If you follow a Sedentary lifestyle (Little to no exercise)

Calorie calculation = BMR x 1.2

For Lightly Active Lifestyle (Light exercise, 1-3 days a week)

Calorie calculation = BMR x 1.375

For a Moderately Active Lifestyle (Moderate exercise, 3-5 days a week)

Calorie calculation = BMR x 1.55

For a Very Active Lifestyle (Intense exercise, 6-7 days a week)

Calorie calculation = BMR x 1.725

Calorie calculation = BMR x 1.9

Harris-Benedict Formula for Men

Step 1: Find the BMR

BMR = 66 + (13.7 x Weight in kilos) + (5 x Height in cm) – (6.8 x Age in years)

Step 2: Multiply Your BMR by the Appropriate Activity Factor

If you follow a Sedentary lifestyle (Little to no exercise)

Calorie calculation = BMR x 1.2

For Lightly Active Lifestyle (Light exercise, 1-3 days a week)

Calorie calculation = BMR x 1.375

For a Moderately Active Lifestyle (Moderate exercise, 3-5 days a week)

Calorie calculation = BMR x 1.55

For a Very Active Lifestyle (Intense exercise, 6-7 days a week)

Calorie calculation = BMR x 1.725

Calorie calculation = BMR x 1.9

Once you know your calorie requirements, the next step is knowing how many calories you are consuming from your foods. Before following any diet or making your meal plans, it is essential to know your food’s calories. Then, you should plan your daily food plan according to your calorie preferences. 

While segregating foods based on their calories, we can split them into six subgroups:

Very Low-Calorie FoodsLow-Calorie FoodsLow to Medium Calorie Foods Medium Calorie FoodsMedium to High-Calorie FoodsHigh-Calorie Foods

According to the USDA’s food data, the calories of some common foods are given below.

(Note: kcal refers to calories)

Very Low-Calorie Foods (Calories per 100g)

Capsicum: 18 kCalLettuce: 20 kCalCherry tomato: 22 kCalBroccoli: 27 kCalSpinach: 28 kCal

Low-Calorie Foods (Calories per 100g)

Skimmed Milk: 34 kCalMelon: 38 kCalCarrots: 39 kCalOnions: 44 kCalApples: 61 kCal

Low to Medium Calorie Foods (Calories per 100g)

Oats: 55 kCalFull fat milk: 61 kCalKiwi fruit: 64 kCalCottage cheese (Paneer): 82 kCalBananas: 98 kCalPrawns: 100 kCal

Medium Calorie Foods (Calories per 100g)

White Rice (cooked): 130 kCalEggs: 143 kCalPeas: 150 kCalChicken: 158 kCalWhole Wheat Bread: 220 kCal

Medium to High-Calorie Foods (Calories per 100g)

Dates: 235 kCalWhite bread: 267 kCalHoney: 280 kCalRoti: 300 kCalMuesli: 390 kCal

High-Calorie Foods (Calories per 100g)

Cheese: 420 kCalCream Cheese: 428 kCalPeanut Butter: 639 kCalButter: 715 kCalCod liver oil: 900 kCal

High- Calorie Junk Foods

Chicken Burger: 444 kCalMeat Lovers Pizza (1 slice): 225 kCalPenne Alla Alfredo: 450 kCal1 plate of Chicken fried rice: 329 kCal1 Chicken Kathi Roll: 331 kCal 

So many foods, so much to calculate; sounds challenging, right? A calorie calculator will make it easy for you. You will have to put your foods and the portion size on an app like HealthifyMe, and it will keep track of your calorie consumption. In addition, it will also keep track of the nutrition that you get from your foods.

Counting Calories Burned From Common Exercises and Physical Activities

Now that you are aware of the calories you need and the calories you are consuming, it is crucial to know how many calories you are burning. Although your body burns some calories through metabolic activities, you also burn some calories through physical activities like walking, running etc. So, as a BMR calculator tells us how many calories we burn during metabolic activities, you can use a calorie calculator to assess the number of calories you burn with physical exercises and other activities.

Also, the amount of calories burnt during any particular activity depends not only on the intensity of the movement but also on the individual’s current weight, height, age and gender.

As you know that if you consume fewer calories than your body requires to perform all metabolic functions, you may experience side effects. For example, eating very few calories than needed can lead to tiredness, difficulty focusing, dizzy feeling and even breathlessness or heart failure in severe cases. Similarly, if you consume excess calories, it gets stored in your body as fat and can lead to weight gain. So, when you consume excess calories, you should indulge in physical activity to burn those extra calories. In contrast, if you indulge in extreme physical activities without eating enough calories, ensure that you eat more calories through healthy foods.

According to the Harvard Medical School studies, below are the calories you burn during 30 minutes of the respective activities. 

Common Physical Activities and Sports

Brisk Walking

Calories burned by a person weighing 55 kg: 180Calories burned by a person weighing 70 kg: 216Calories burned by a person weighing 85 kg: 252

Swimming

Calories burned by a person weighing 55 kg: 180Calories burned by a person weighing 70 kg: 216Calories burned by a person weighing 85 kg: 252

Tennis

Calories burned by a person weighing 55 kg: 210Calories burned by a person weighing 70 kg: 252Calories burned by a person weighing 85 kg: 294

Running

Calories burned by a person weighing 55 kg: 240Calories burned by a person weighing 70 kg: 288Calories burned by a person weighing 85 kg: 336

Yoga

Calories burned by a person weighing 55 kg: 120Calories burned by a person weighing 70 kg: 144Calories burned by a person weighing 85 kg: 168

Calories Burnt with Day to Day Activities

While Sitting Idle

Calories burned by a person weighing 55 kg: 36Calories burned by a person weighing 70 kg: 46Calories burned by a person weighing 85 kg: 55

While Sleeping

Calories burned by a person weighing 55 kg: 26Calories burned by a person weighing 70 kg: 33Calories burned by a person weighing 85 kg: 40

Please Note: You do not burn these calories due to sitting and sleeping. Instead, you burn those calories due to metabolic activities like breathing, digesting the foods, blood circulation etc.

While Performing Household Chores (Dusting, Cooking etc.)

Calories burned by a person weighing 55 kg: 69Calories burned by a person weighing 70 kg: 88Calories burned by a person weighing 85 kg: 106

Calorie Calculation: Precautions

Calorie Counting as a Means for Weight Loss

Most people believe calorie counting is the quickest and easiest way to lose weight. In addition, there is a common misconception that you can lose weight by eating less and exercising more. However, it is not as simple as that. While research shows that calorie counting and cutting are effective tools for weight loss, there are numerous other things that you should be aware of before simply slashing down calories.

First, it is essential to know that adequate calorie consumption varies from person to person. For example, a person sitting at a desk the whole day will not need the same calories as an athlete. Similarly, a young individual won’t need the same calories as someone above 60. So, to determine your calorie intake for weight loss, it is crucial to assess the optimal amount of calories your body needs. And that depends on one’s age, weight, height, gender and activity levels.

Next, it is essential to understand that cutting calories cannot guarantee weight loss. The kind of foods you feed your body matters too. For example, consuming low-calorie junk or processed foods will never help you lose weight. Research shows how eating unhealthy junk or processed food adversely affects your body despite its calorie count. For example, an average small sized burger (around 120 g) contains 345 calories, whereas, for the same 345 calories, you can consume about 400 grams of brown rice. It is no secret that eating brown rice is much healthier than consuming a hamburger, especially from a health point of view.

Calorie counting is one of the significant ways that assist in weight loss. However, it is beneficial only if you do it with a proper and well-calculated understanding of nutrition. Otherwise, it would not give you the desired results. Furthermore, making nutritionally deficit food choices can harm your body.

Calorie counting is one of the ways to assist in weight loss. Although it is beneficial in some ways, you need to ensure that you do it with a proper and well-calculated understanding of nutrition. Furthermore, it might not give the desired results if you make poor choices while trying to form a diet chart. Hence, it is best to understand your requirements and consult an expert nutritionist or dietitian. They will customise a modified food plan to help you maintain a healthy body weight.

Whether counting calories solely is effective for weight loss will remain a widely debatable topic. But it does not mean that calorie counting is not an effective means of weight loss and maintaining a healthy body weight. Still, you must make well-informed decisions about what you feed your bodies to ensure the most beneficial results.

Calculating calories gives individuals a more profound understanding of what they eat and how many calories they burn. As a result, it becomes easier for people to redefine their eating habits and exercise regimes depending on their goals. However, your calorific requirements depend on your age, height, weight, gender and activity levels. 

Since so many factors influence your calorie requirements, it can be challenging to assess them accurately. Hence, it is best to use a calorie calculator that can help you determine your calorie requirement and how many calories you eat and burn.

Q. How do I calculate my calorie intake?

A. To calculate your calorie intake, you can either follow several steps as given below or use a calorie counting app that keeps track of your foods and calorie intake. 

Make a note of foods you eat with portion size, ingredients, and cooking method.Search for the calorific value of each ingredient and sum it up.Calculate the total of all the calories through your meals throughout the day.

Q. Can you lose weight on 1500 calories a day?

A.  There is no sure way of predicting whether you can lose weight on a 1500 calorie diet. While some research does suggest that it works on an average woman, there is a considerable variation in its effectiveness. In addition, your calorie requirement depends on gender, weight, height, age and activity levels. Hence, consult your doctor or dietician before opting for any calorie deficit diet plan.

Q. How many calories should I eat in a day?

A.  The amount of calories you should eat in a day depends on your gender, height, weight, age and activity levels. It also depends on whether you aim to lose weight, gain weight, or simply maintain a constant healthy weight. Besides that, you also need to track your body’s calorie requirement as per your BMR. To make it easier for you, use a calorie calculator.

Q. Why are 1200 calories not enough?

A.  Our bodies need a minimum amount of energy to perform their primary survival function like breathing, keeping your heart beating etc. And for most humans, this minimum amount of energy, i.e. calories, is way more than 1200. So, 1200 calories per day won’t allow your body to perform any of these vital functions properly, leading to several side effects like fatigue, weakness, tiredness etc.

Q. What are calories in food?

A.  The amount of energy in a food is called calories. When you consume more calories than what you need, your body stores it up in the form of fat. Similarly, if you eat fewer calories than the minimum requirement, your body might find it difficult to function properly.

Q. Which fruit has the most calories?

A.  The fruit with the most calories is avocados. One hundred grams of avocados provide us with 150 to 167 calories. Other common high-calorie fruits are dates, coconut pulp, bananas and raisins.

Q. Do calories matter for weight loss?

A.  Yes, calories do matter if you are trying to lose weight. However, many things affect your weight loss. Hence, you need to understand them before simply cutting down calories. One cannot lose weight in a healthy manner by merely cutting down calories. What matters is the type of food you consume. In addition, how your hormones affect your metabolism plays a huge role too.

Q. What food gives more calories?

A. High-calorie foods can be of two types- healthy and unhealthy. The healthiest foods that give us more calories are rice, potatoes, whole-grain bread, milk, oil-rich fish, nuts, eggs, full-fat dairy products, and high-calorie fruits like bananas and mangoes, plums, dates and apricots. And the unhealthy foods that we must avoid are processed foods, fast foods, fried foods, and foods with excessive sugar, such as ice creams, cakes, and soft drinks.

Q. How many calories will 30 mins of walking burn?

A. How many calories you burn from a 30 min walk depends on your current weight and walking speed. For example, a person weighing between 50 to 60 kgs can burn between 100 to 180 calories depending on your walking pace. At the same time, a person weighing between 60 to 70 kgs can burn anywhere between 112 to 214 calories. Furthermore, a person weighing between 70 to 80 kgs can burn 127 to 245 calories.

Q. What is the formula for counting calories?

A.  The formula for counting calories has two main parts- Finding your BMR, which is different for men and women, and then multiplying that value by the ‘activity level’, which indicates how active you are on a day to day basis. 

For women: Activity Level x [655 + (9.6 x Weight in kilos) + (1.8 x Height in cm) – (4.7 x Age in years)]For men: Activity Level x  [66 + (13.7 x Weight in kilos) + (5 x Height in cm) – (6.8 x Age in years)]

Q. How do you calculate calories for weight loss?

A.  The amount of calories you need per day is the sum of the calories your body needs to perform its normal functioning activities, calories burnt by the physical activities throughout the day and the energy our body extracts from the food we eat. Dieticians usually suggest cutting down the net present calories needed by about 10% for weight loss. However, one must consult their dietician or doctor before doing so.

Q. What is the formula for weight loss?

A.  The most straightforward formula for losing weight is to combine daily exercising with a reduced calorie intake. Usually, cutting your daily calorie intake by 500 calories assists in losing about ½ a kilo in a week, but keep in mind that the weight loss will contain fat loss, lean tissue loss and water weight loss.

Q. How many calories should I eat a day for losing weight?

A.  The number of calories one should eat a day should be about 500 calories less than what one needs to maintain their current weight. But keep in mind that our bodies need a certain minimum amount of calories to function correctly, so one must not cut down calories drastically without consulting the dietician or the doctor.

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