Friday, September 5, 2014

Calculating Ideal Calorie Intake

How do I know how many calories I should consume?

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the three fundamental pillars of health and wellness includes nutrition. You have to feed your body whole, natural and unprocessed foods in order for it to work toward its optimal capacity. Additionally, it’s important to feed your body to maintain your body weight and if you’re looking to lose weight, to know how many calories to consume (or remove) to aid in that process.

As many people have said before:

Abs aren’t made in the gym; abs are made in the kitchen.

Before we get into any nutrition conversations, it’s important to know how many calories you should consume to maintain your weight and how many calories you should consume to lose weight. For some reason, I’ve always found this process to be confusing, so I’m going to try to simplify it here.

Let’s get started.

If you want to maintain your weight, you need to know three numbers:

Ideal Body Weight (IBW)
Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) / Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Daily Calorie Goal (DCG)

The easiest way to think about Ideal Body Weight is to think about how much you should weigh given your height and age. If you calculate your Ideal Body Weight and your current weight is above the ideal range, you might want to consider losing weight. If you calculate your Ideal Body Weight and the number is below your range, you might need to put on some weight. And, if you calculate your Ideal Body Weight and it falls within your range, you’ll want to make sure you’re consuming enough calories to maintain your ideal weight.

Your Resting (Basal) Metabolic Rate is the rate your body would burn calories if you were to do absolutely nothing during the day, and hence, not burn any calories through activity. It is the absolute minimum number of calories your body needs to survive. It’s important to know this number so that you can identify how many calories you should consume to keep your body functioning at its best (before you start to consider how many calories you can eat if you move around at all during the day, work out, etc.).

After calculating your Resting (Basal) Metabolic Rate, it is then important to know your Daily Calorie Goal, meaning how many calories you can consume based on how active you are during the day. To do this, think about your daily activity in one of three buckets:
  1. Sedentary (you don’t really move at all during the day - maybe you sit at a desk all day and don’t really exercise much during the week).
  2. Moderately active (you get in about 1-3 days of exercise and move around a little bit during the day).
  3. Very active (you either exercise 4-6 times per week and/or you have a very demanding job that requires you to be up and about for most of the day).

Here are the steps to calculate all three:

Step 1: Calculate your Ideal Body Weight
I would recommend calculating your Ideal Body Weight using the calculator found at the CDC’s website. The results provide you with information indicating whether you are in a healthy or unhealthy range.

Step 2: Calculate your Resting (Basal) Metabolic Rate
I would recommend calculating your Resting Metabolic Rate using the calculator found on’s website. The results will provide you with information about your baseline calorie needs per day; for example, if your RMR / BMR is 1,300, you don’t want to consume fewer than 1,300 calories per day or your body will go into ‘conservation mode.’

Step 3: Calculate your Daily Calorie Goal
Now that you have calculated your RMR/BMR, use the following guidelines to calculate your Daily Calorie Goal:

If you are sedentary, add an additional 20-40% of your RMR.
If you are moderately active, add an additional 50% of your RMR.
If you are very active, add an additional 60-80% of your RMR.

This calculation gives you an ideal calorie goal that you should try to achieve per day.

Sam’s RMR is 1,500 and he’s sedentary. Take his RMR of 1,500 and multiply it by 30%: 1,500 x 0.30 = 450. 
Sam’s daily calorie goal should be 1,500 + 450 = 1,950 / day.

What did you come up with? 
Were you surprised at your numbers?

Now that you have your numbers, in future posts we’ll focus on how to use them to optimize your approach to eating and exercise.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fundamentals of Health and Wellness

What is health? 

What is wellness?

If I'm fit, does that mean I'm healthy?

If I'm overweight, does that mean I'm not healthy?

How can I be healthy? 

If I'm healthy, do I have to sacrifice everything and be the party-pooper in every social situation?

I've been interested in health and wellness forever. In my pursuit of optimal health and wellness, I've continued to ask one simple question: What are the fundamental pillars of health and wellness? If you Google 'health and wellness', you will get 10.6M search results outlining health and wellness resources, all at your fingertips. And, admittedly, it's a little bit overwhelming. Who do you trust? What sites are your go-to sites for health and wellness information? How do you know what is right and what is wrong?

There is a lot of clutter and misleading information in the world. Over the last five years, I've tried to identify ways to think about health and wellness from all angles and I've settled on three components that seem to always be present, no matter what I read or what fad takes hold in health, wellness and fitness. They feed off one another and are interrelated. These three components are:
  1. Mental / Emotional Health: Feed Your Mind. Feeding your mind and your soul leads to successful nutritional and fitness choices.
  2. Nutrition: Feed Your Body. Feeding your body with whole, natural and unprocessed foods allows it to work toward its optimal capacity.
  3. Movement: Feed Your Muscles. Moving, whether in a group fitness class or just in taking a walk, exercises your heart and does wonders for your mental state.
I want to dedicate this space to exploring and optimizing all three, and, hopefully offering some thoughts on how anyone can make changes in their own lives to optimize their health and wellness.