The Calories Counter can be used to estimate the number of calories a person needs to consume each day. This calculator can also provide some simple guidelines for gaining or losing weight.
This Calorie Calculator is based on several equations, and the results of the calculator are based on an estimated average. The three equations used by the calculator are listed below:
- For men:
- BMR = 10W + 6.25H – 5A + 5
- For women:
- BMR = 10W + 6.25H – 5A – 161
H: is body height in cm
A: is age
F: is body fat in percentage
The value obtained from these equations is the estimated number of calories a person can consume in a day to maintain their body-weight, assuming they remain at rest. This value is multiplied by an activity factor (generally 1.2-1.95), dependent on a person’s typical levels of exercise, in order to obtain a more realistic value for maintaining body-weight (since people are less likely to be at rest throughout the course of an entire day). 1 pound, or approximately 0.45 kg, equates to about 3,500 calories. As such, in order to lose 1 pound per week, it is recommended that 500 calories be shaved off the estimate of calories necessary for weight maintenance per day.
It is important to remember that proper diet and exercise is largely accepted as the best way to lose weight. It is inadvisable to lower calorie intake by more than 1,000 calories per day, as losing more than 2 pounds per week can be unhealthy, and can result in the opposite effect in the near future by reducing metabolism. Losing more than 2 pounds a week will likely involve muscle loss, which in turn lowers BMR, since more muscle mass results in higher BMR. Excessive weight loss can also be due to dehydration, which is unhealthy. Furthermore, particularly when exercising in conjunction with dieting, maintaining a good diet is important, since the body needs to be able to support its metabolic processes and replenish itself. Depriving the body of the nutrients it requires as part of heavily unhealthy diets can have serious detrimental effects, and weight lost in this manner has been shown in some studies to be unsustainable, since the weight is often regained in the form of fat (putting the participant in a worse state than when beginning the diet). As such, in addition to monitoring calorie intake, it is important to maintain levels of fiber intake as well as other nutritional necessities to balance the needs of the body.
Calorie Counting as a Means for Weight Loss
Calorie counting with the intent of losing weight, on its simplest levels, can be broken down into a few general steps:
- Determine your BMR using one of the provided equations. If you know your body fat percentage, the Katch-McArdle Formula might be a more accurate representation of your BMR. Remember that the values attained from these equations are approximations and subtracting exactly 500 calories from your BMR will not necessarily result in exactly 1 pound lost per week – it could be less, or it could be more!
- Determine your weight loss goals. Recall that 1 pound (~0.45 kg) equates to approximately 3500 calories, and reducing daily caloric intake relative to estimated BMR by 500 calories per day will theoretically result in a loss of 1 pound a week. It is generally not advisable to lose more than 2 pounds per week as it can have negative health effects, i.e. try to target a maximum daily calorie reduction of approximately 1000 calories per day. Consulting your doctor and/or a registered dietician nutritionist (RDN) is recommended in cases where you plan to lose more than 2 pounds per week.
- Choose a method to track your calories and progress towards your goals. If you have a smartphone, there are many easy-to-use applications that facilitate tracking calories, exercise, and progress, among other things. Many, if not all of these, have estimates for the calories in many brand-name foods or dishes at restaurants, and if not, they can estimate calories based on the amount of the individual components of the foods. It can be difficult to get a good grasp on food proportions and the calories they contain – which is why counting calories (as well as any other approach) is not for everyone – but if you meticulously measure and track the number of calories in some of your typical meals, it quickly becomes easier to accurately estimate calorie content without having to actually measure or weigh your food each time. There are also websites that can help to do the same, but if you prefer, manually maintaining an excel spreadsheet or even a pen and paper journal are certainly viable alternatives.
- Track your progress over time and make changes to better achieve your goals if necessary. Remember that weight loss alone is not the sole determinant of health and fitness, and you should take other factors such as fat vs. muscle loss/gain into account as well. Also, it is recommended that measurements are taken over longer periods of time such as a week (rather than daily) as significant variations in weight can occur simply based on water intake or time of day. It is also ideal to take measurements under consistent conditions, such as weighing yourself as soon as you wake up and before breakfast, rather than at different times throughout the day.
- Keep at it!
How Many Calories Do You Need?
Many people seek to lose weight, and often the easiest way to do this is to consume fewer calories each day. But how many calories does the body actually need in order to be healthy? This largely depends on the amount of physical activity a person performs each day, and regardless of this, is different for all people – there are many different factors involved, not all of which are well-understood or known.
Some factors that influence the number of calories a person needs to remain healthy include age, weight, height, sex, levels of physical activity, and overall general health. For example, a physically active 25-year-old male that is 6 feet in height requires considerably higher calorie intake than a 5-foot-tall, sedentary 70-year-old woman. Though it differs depending on age and activity level, adult males generally require 2,000-3000 calories per day to maintain weight while adult females need around 1,600-2,400 according to the U.S Department of Health.
The body does not require many calories to simply survive. However, consuming too few calories results in the body functioning poorly, since it will only use calories for functions essential to survival, and ignore those necessary for general health and well-being. Harvard Health Publications suggests women get at least 1,200 calories and men get at least 1,500 calories a day unless supervised by doctors. As such, it is highly recommended that a person attempting to lose weight monitors their body’s caloric necessities and adjusts them as necessary to maintain its nutritional needs.
Calories: Different Kinds and Their Effects
The main sources of calories in a typical person’s diet are carbohydrates, proteins, and fat, with alcohol also being a significant portion of calorie intake for many people (though ideally this should be limited since alcohol contains many empty calories). Some studies have shown that the calories displayed on nutrition labels and the calories actually consumed and retained can vary significantly. This hints at the complex nature of calories and nutrition and is why many conflicting points of view on the “best” methodology for losing weight exist. For example, how a person chews their food has been shown to affect weight loss to some degree; generally speaking, chewing food more increases the number of calories that the body burns during digestion. People that chew more also tend to eat less, since the longer period of time necessary to chew their food allows more time to reach a state of satiety, which results in eating less. However, the effects of how food is chewed and digestion of different foods are not completely understood and it is possible that other factors exist, and thus this information should be taken with a grain of salt (in moderation if weight loss is the goal).
Generally, foods that take more effort to chew – fruit, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, etc. – require the body to burn more calories since more calories are required to digest them. It also results in the feeling of satiety for longer periods of time. Furthermore, certain foods like coffee, tea, chilies, cinnamon, and ginger have been found to increase the rate of calories burned, due to the ingredients they contain.
The “quality” of calories consumed is also important. There are different classifications of foods in terms of calories. This includes high-calorie foods, low-calorie foods, and empty calories. Consistent with their naming, high-calorie foods are foods that are calorically dense, meaning that there are a high number of calories relative to serving size, while low-calorie foods have fewer calories relative to serving size. Foods such as fat, oils, fried foods, and sugary foods are examples of high-calorie foods. Being a high-calorie food does not inherently mean that the food is unhealthy however – avocados, quinoa, nuts, and whole grains are all high-calorie foods that are considered healthful in moderation. Low-calorie foods include vegetables and certain fruits, among other things, while empty calories, such as those in added sugars and solid fats, are calories that contain few to no nutrients. Studies have shown that there is a measurable difference between consuming 500 calories of carrots compared to 500 calories of popcorn. As previously mentioned, this in part can be attributed to differences in how the foods are consumed and processed. Carrots require far more chewing and can result in more calories burned during digestion. Again, the mechanism for these differences is not fully defined, but simply note that for weight loss purposes, the general formula of calories in minus calories out determining weight gain or loss does hold, but that the number of calories on a nutrition label is not necessarily indicative of how many calories the body actually retains. While there is no clear-cut or ideal amount of macronutrient proportions a person should consume to maintain a healthy diet or lose weight, eating a “healthy” diet replete with a variety of unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruits, and lean meats is correlated with being healthier, and is more likely to result in sustainable weight loss. Also, remember that calories from drinks comprise an estimated 21% of a typical person’s diet. Many of these calories fall under the category of empty calories. While sodas are an obvious culprit, drinks such as juices and even milk have large amounts of sugar and should be consumed in moderation to avoid negating their nutritional benefits. Ideally, a person should drink water, tea, and coffee without adding sugar in order to reduce calories gained from drinks.
Remember: All foods, including “healthful foods,” should be consumed in moderation, and distinctions can often be misleading since even natural foods like fruits can have large amounts of sugar, and foods labeled as “health foods” such as low-calorie foods, reduced-fat foods, etc. can potentially replace one unhealthy component with another. Many reduced-fat foods have large amounts of added sugar to compensate for taste lost through fat reduction. It is important to pay attention to, and consider the different components in a food product in order to determine whether said food should have a place within your diet.
Calories in Common Foods
|Apple||1 (4 oz.)||59||247|
|Banana||1 (6 oz.)||151||632|
|Orange||1 (4 oz.)||53||222|
|Pear||1 (5 oz.)||82||343|
|Peach||1 (6 oz.)||67||281|
|Beef, regular, cooked||2 oz.||142||595|
|Chicken, cooked||2 oz.||136||569|
|Fish, Catfish, cooked||2 oz.||136||569|
|Pork, cooked||2 oz.||137||574|
|Shrimp, cooked||2 oz.||56||234|
|Bread, white||1 slice (1 oz.)||75||314|
|Caesar salad||3 cups||481||2014|
|Dark Chocolate||1 oz.||155||649|
|Pizza||1 slice (14″)||285||1193|
|Rice||1 cup cooked||206||862|
|Sandwich||1 (6″ Subway Turkey Sandwich)||200||837|
|Coca-Cola Classic||1 can||150||628|
|Diet Coke||1 can||0||0|
|Milk (1%)||1 cup||102||427|
|Milk (2%)||1 cup||122||511|
|Milk (Whole)||1 cup||146||611|
|Orange Juice||1 cup||111||465|
|Apple cider||1 cup||117||490|
|Yogurt (low-fat)||1 cup||154||645|
|Yogurt (non-fat)||1 cup||110||461|
* 1 cup = ~250 milliliters, 1 table spoon = 14.2 gram
2000, 1500, and 1200 Calorie Sample Meal Plans
|Meal||1200 Cal Plan||1500 Cal Plan||2000 Cal Plan|
|Breakfast||All-bran cereal (125)|
Greek yogurt (120)
|Buttered toast (150)|
Avocado dip (50)
|Orange (70)||Greek yogurt (120)|
|Total||345 Calories||350 Calories||650 Calories|
|Lunch||Grilled cheese with tomato (300)|
|Chicken and vegetable soup (300)|
|Grilled chicken (225)|
Grilled vegetables (125)
|Snack||Walnuts (100)||Apple (75)|
Peanut butter (75)
Baby carrots (35)
|Total||450 Calories||550 Calories||685 Calories|
|Dinner||Grilled Chicken (200)|
Brussel sprouts (100)
Mashed potatoes (150)
|Grilled salmon (225)|
Brown rice (175)
Green beans (100)
|Total||405 Calories||600 Calories||665 Calories|
Calories Burned from Common Exercises:
|Activity (1 hour)||125 lb person||155 lb person||185 lb person|
|Golf (using cart)||198||246||294|
|Walking (3.5 mph)||215||267||319|
|Swimming (free-style, moderate)||397||492||587|
|Running (9 minute mile)||624||773||923|
|Bicycling (12-14 mph, moderate)||454||562||671|
Energy from Common Food Components
|Food Components||kJ per gram||Calorie (kcal) per gram||kJ per ounce||Calorie (kcal) per ounce|
|Ethanol (drinking alcohol)||29||6.9||822||196|
|Polyols (sugar alcohols, sweeteners)||10||2.4||283||68|