Maintaining a healthy body weight brings various health benefits. It could help lower your blood pressure, relieve stress on your bones and muscles, and reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses. But keeping an ideal weight goes beyond shedding a few extra pounds. It’s about knowing your body’s specific caloric requirements and achieving a healthy body composition.
Most fad diets that promise quick weight loss tend to be restrictive and often lead to muscle loss due to extreme caloric deficits. What you should aim for, instead, is a low body-fat percentage.
One of the most effective ways to burn fat and maintain an ideal body-fat percentage is to count calories from macronutrients (aka macros).
Read on to know the important factors in counting calories, the two main formulae in computing for caloric needs, and tips for effective calorie management.
What is a calorie and why is it important?
A calorie is a unit of energy that refers to the amount of heat needed to raise one gram of water’s temperature by one degree Celsius. It comes from various sources, such as carbohydrates, fats, sugars, and even non-food products like coal and gas. In food labels, you’ll notice the term kcal, short for kilocalorie, which is equal to 1,000 small calories. But, what does it mean for you?
Calories provide the energy you need to perform daily activities, like thinking, running, walking, and exercising. Hence, it’s difficult to stay focused when you fail to consume the recommended caloric intake for your weight, age, and height.
Although calories are essential for everyone, too many calories is not good for your health. It causes weight gain in the form of body fat. Consuming more calories than you burn can cause stomach rolls and stubborn arm fat. It also heightens the risk for heart disease, especially if you’re fond of eating food with saturated and artificial trans fat.
Does calorie counting work?
Calorie counting works provided that you burn more calories than you consume. It allows you to be aware of your caloric needs based on your age, weight, height, lifestyle, and goals. Your caloric needs are the number of calories you need to consume per day, enabling your body to perform basic metabolic functions and usual physical activities.
Based on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, an average American needs 1,600 to 3,000 calories per day. Take note, however, that this figure varies for each person. In the next section, you’ll discover four essential factors in calorie counting.
What are the important factors in calorie counting?
It’s important to set realistic goals when it comes to weight management. This approach helps prevent rapid weight gain and other health problems. Health experts recommend aiming to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, which translates to 0.5 to 1 kilogram. To achieve this, you’ll need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume per day.
Men and women have different recommended calorie intake. Generally, women need fewer calories than men. For instance, according to the National Health Service, men require 2,500 calories per day, while women need 2,000 calories. But, it’s important to note that the level of physical activity is also a deciding factor when it comes to required caloric intake.
Active people need more calories than sedentary ones. They need more energy to execute intense workouts compared to individuals who seldom exercise. Consider your daily activities when limiting your caloric intake.
Age is also a crucial factor in calorie counting. Children and adolescents need more calories since their bodies are developing. People in their twenties and middle-aged individuals require fewer calories than teenagers. Lastly, adults over 60 generally need fewer calories.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Body mass index refers to individuals’ weight, measured in kilograms, divided by the square of their height in meters. It’s crucial to know your BMI when losing weight since it ensures a healthy proportion. This way, you can lose weight without compromising your health and achieve your goal based on your height and weight.
How to compute caloric needs
Below are two ways to compute your daily calorie needs:
This formula takes into account a person’s weight, height, gender, age, and level of physical activity. Nutritionists often use the Harris-Benedict formula due to its comprehensive approach.
For women, the Harris-Benedict Formula is as follows: 655.1 + 9.563 x (body weight in kilograms) + 1.850 x (body height in cm) divided by 4.676 x age.
If you seldom exercise, multiply the result by 1.2. People who engage in average physical activities must multiply the answer by 1.3. Lastly, if you perform intense workouts, then multiply the result by 1.4.
For men, use this formula to calculate recommended caloric intake: 66.47 + 13.75 x (body weight in kilograms) + 5.003 x (body height in cm) divided by 6.755 x age. Then apply the same rules for physical activity.
The World Health Organization offers a simpler equation for counting recommended caloric intake. For instance, women aged 18 to 29 must use this formula: 14.7 x (body weight in kilogram) + 496.
On the other hand, men in the same age group must follow this equation: 15.3 x (body weight in kilogram) + 679.
After using the formula, multiply the result by the physical activity factor from the Harris-Benedict equation.
How many calories are there in each macronutrient?
Macronutrients provide energy to humans so they can perform metabolic functions and daily activities. Each macronutrient contains different amounts of calories; hence, they provide varying levels of energy.
Below are three types of macronutrients, their examples, and the number of calories they contain.
There are four calories per gram of carbohydrate. It is the body’s main source of energy and you can find it in grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, dairy products, and legumes. It’s advisable to consume whole grains instead of refined ones to get all the nutrients your body needs.
Like carbohydrates, one gram of protein contains four calories. Protein-rich foods include fish, seafood, lean beef, and low-fat milk. Since the human body digests protein more slowly than carbohydrates, a high protein diet avoids overeating. People who want to burn fat fast typically follow a protein-rich diet with black beans, salmon, eggs, chicken breast, and oats.
There’s a reason health-conscious individuals limit the amount of fatty food in their daily diet. One gram of fat contains nine calories, double the amount of calories in protein and carbohydrates. Take note that fat is still essential in a person’s diet. Opt for polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from avocados, almonds, and hazelnuts.
How to count calories?
To have an effective fat loss program, it’s important to count calorie intake and output. This way, you can achieve your goals easier. It also encourages proper weight management strategies.
1. Take advantage of mobile apps
Now, there are available software applications that use artificial intelligence and food recognition technology to monitor your nutrient intake. You only need to take a picture of your meal, and the app automatically records its calorie content. SmartPlate uses this technology and combines it with a combination of three precise weight scales that allow for easy and accurate portion control.
2. Write down everything you eat each day
If you want to take the traditional route, you can also write journal entries of your daily food intake. Remember to keep track of the food you eat and the liquids you consume. It’s advisable to write the food you eat immediately after every meal. This approach helps you become aware of your eating habits.
3. Know the calorie content of food products
Fortunately, the Food and Drug Administration requires food manufacturers to include nutrition labels in their products. You can usually find the calorie content, the total amount of carbohydrates, and other essential information at the back of a food product’s container.
You can also search for vegetables, meat products, and fruits’ calorie content, especially when preparing your meals. It then allows you to plan your meals and manage eating habits.
4. Use our portion control plate
SmartPlate includes a portion control plate, a type of kitchenware that informs people about food portion sizes. It features partitions for different types of food, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, and meat or seafood. Our tool helps you achieve an ideal body composition by training you to eat only what your body needs.
1. Execute the correct form and exercise for the exact duration
Proper weight management is achieved through a combination of exercise and a healthy diet. Make sure to execute the correct form when exercising and take note of the exact time. In effect, you can accurately document your calorie output.
2. Log your daily physical activity
It’s helpful to keep a journal of your physical activities. This habit can motivate you to achieve your weight goals. Remember to write down your exercise regimen immediately after a workout for accuracy. You could also take your weight and monitor changes as you go along.
Achieve a healthy body composition with SmartPlate
Calorie counting and portion control are widely used methods to lose weight and achieve an ideal body-fat percentage. Combine this strategy with a healthy diet and regular exercise and you can surely improve your health and fitness level in no time.
Explore our website to learn more about the SmartPlate portion control technology.