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Living A God-Glorifying Life Through Good Health.
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When I was growing up in the '50s and '60s, there was no obesity epidemic, and children were not developing old-age maladies such as heart disease. Cancer, Alzheimer's, and autism were virtually unheard of. Living a healthy lifestyle was a lot easier. More...

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Calculate Calories to Maintain Weight

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It is useful to know the calories to maintain your present weight. You may be surprised at how many additional calories that you take in on a daily basis.

Just as a flashlight needs a battery to shine and your car needs fuel in order for you to drive it, your body likewise needs a source of energy in order to function. That energy source is the calorie.

Calories to maintain weight is just one aspect of the overall use of calories in the body. They are also needed to keep your heart beating, to blink your eyes, and even to keep your brain functioning. Believe it or not, you need a certain amount of calories to keep you alive even when you are not doing anything.

Calories to maintain you at rest are called the basal metabolic rate (BMR.) The basal metabolic rate is dependent on your age, weight, height, gender and how much muscle and fat you carry. (Weight training will boost your BMR by up to 15 percent.)

In order to find the calories to maintain your present weight, you need to compute your basal metabolic rate and the number of calories that you burn during your exercise schedule. There is an activity factor for the couch potato as well as a construction worker/weekend athlete.

The form below will calculate the number of calories to maintain your present weight. Once your daily caloric requirements are known, you can then find out how many calories you need in order to lose a certain amount of weight.

Gender: (Male=1/Female=2)
Weight: lbs.
Height: inches
Activity Level:

Calories to Maintain calories per day

Activity Levels

  • If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : 1.2
  • If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : 1.375
  • If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : 1.55
  • If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : 1.725
  • If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : 1.9

  • The activity level determines how many calories you burn in your exercise program. This number which ranges from sedentary to extremely active is multiplied by your basal metabolic rate to determine how many calories to maintain your present weight.

    The activity level constant level is based on the Harris-Benedict equation. This equation does not factor in lean body mass (muscle.) Leaner bodies burn more calories than bodies which are not as lean. Reults will be accurate for all but the very muscular (it will under estimate caloric requirements) and the very fat (it will over estimate caloric requirements.)

    Calories to Maintain: Weight Loss/Maintenance 101

    The human body is an amazingly complex piece of creation. What initially may seem obvious and straightforward about the way it operates is seldom the case. This is especially true with calories to maintain weight or weight management in general.

    For instance, a pound of fat is equivalent to about 3,500 calories. Based on this, if you cut back on your calories by 500 calories every week, in 7 weeks you'd think would lose one pound. Unfortunately weight loss isn't as simplistic as this.

    One reason is that the body processes high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeneters differently than it does sucrose (table sugar.) Table sugar is bad but excess fructose, especially high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners are worse in terms of not only weight gain but metabolic disease leading to diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD.)

    I hasten to add that fructose per se is not bad (natural fructose from fruit as opposed to processed fructose so prevalent today.) Americans today consume much too much fructose (in juices, snack foods, and low and no fat products) that it has become a health threat.

    Man originally ate primarily protein and fats from meats, fish, and nuts and carbohydrates from roots, fruits and vegetables. Naturally this diet was high in protein and fats (saturated as well as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.)

    The body views the 500 calorie deficit as a period of starvation. Instead of making up the deficit by tapping its fat stores, it will get the energy it needs from protein.

    Your body will get the protein it needs by attacking your lean body mass (muscle.) By a process known as gluconeogenesis, your liver will convert the protein into carbohydrates. So, although you will lose weight, it is absolutely the wrong type of weight.

    Why don't you want to lose muscle? Because, contrary to what many believe, muscles are used by the body for many more activities than raising your arm or lifting your leg. Muscles cause your eyelids to blink, your heart to pump, and many other metabolic processes you are not even aware of.

    Also remember, the majority of your bodyweight is composed of lean tissue. This tissue is metabolically active, burning calories. The greater your lean body mass, the greater the number of calories you will burn at rest.

    Ideally you want to be able to burn fat calories 24/7. That means burning calories when at rest as well as when exercising. In order to burn calories while at rest, you need muscle tissue. Since you lose muscle as you age, weight training needs to be incorporated into your training program to maintain/build muscle. Read this article to get an understanding of how to lose weight by targeting your fat stores.

    Calories to Maintain: Muscle -- 24/7 Calorie-Burning Tissue

    As I stated earlier, muscle, as opposed to fat, is metabolically active. This activity is sustained 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    Ron Brown, author of The Body Fat Guide, compares muscle to an idling car engine. The engine burns gasoline even when your foot is not on the accelerator. Similarly, even while relaxing, your muscle tissue is 'idling', burning calories steadily and continually.

    People who carry more muscle will burn more calories than a person who carries less. Bodybuilders are perfect examples. The tremendous amount of muscle tissue they carry makes their bodies effective and efficient calorie-burning machines.

    Women in general carry more body fat and less muscle than men. A typical woman will therefore burn less calories than a man.

    muscleAs a person ages, muscle tissue will atrophy. This is a normal physical process. This natural process can be reversed however. Weight training will prevent muscle atrophy and its associated decline in calorie burning.

    Photo left is a picture of my flexed bicep taken at the Mr. New Jersey Bodybuilding competition in 2001. I was six months away from 50th birthday. If I didn't weight train, at that age my arm would have been mainly sagging fat with very little muscle.

    Myths abound as to how many calories a pound of muscle burns. Some say as much as 50 to 60 calories. This is not true however. Studies have found that a pound of muscle burns anywhere from 5 to 6 calories. A pound of fat burns about 2 calories.

    So muscle burns approximately 3 times as many calories as fat. Although 5 to 6 calories may not seem to be a lot, it all adds up. In addition there are other benefits to gaining and retaining muscle tissue. Some of these benefits are:

  • studies show that muscle strength reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
  • reduces risk of falls for seniors
  • increases ability for independent living (able to carry groceries, climb stairs, etc.)
  • Avoid 'Low Fat' Products in Using Calories to Maintain Weight

    The typical supermarket, fast food mart, and your average 'Mom and Pop' corner store are bulging at the seams with junk and low fat food. However, low fat products have failed to live up to their advertised promise and hype. And, sadly, many Americans are not aware that low fat products are worse for their health than the products they were designed to replace.

    Food manufacturers have removed fats they were convinced were causing the explosion of heart disease and unwanted weight and replaced it with artificial sweeteners. The removal of fats also caused the undesirable removal of taste. To compensate, artificial sweeteners were used.

    By the same token, no sugar and sugarless products have swamped the marketplace. Sugar has been replaced with low or no-calorie artificial sweenteners.

    Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, and high fructose corn syrup disrupt the body's ability to count calories. Science has amply demonstrated that although counterintuitive, no sugar and low fat products contribute to weight gain. In other words, to successfully use calories to maintain weight, you have to avoid low fat and sugarless foods.

    Artificial sweeteners are used in hundreds of products ranging from pharmaceuticals to diet sodas to dietary foods. Aspartame alone is present in over 6,000 low and no calories products.

    Calories and their effect on your body is a lot more complicated than quantity. Numbers-wise it seems good sense to consume low-calorie food and drink products in order to lose weight. But the science for weight loss is not there as far as artificial sweenteners are concerned.

    In order to successfully use calories to maintain weight, find your metabolic type. Everyone is different so nutritional requirements differ. Once you eat according to your nutritional profile, maintaining weight becomes much easier.

    The second step is to avoid all processed foods. This will automatically eliminate all low-calorie products. Eat organic fruits and vegetables as much as possible, and grass-fed meat--all according to your metabolic type.

    When you do have the urge for something sweet or to sweeten something, use the natural sweetener stevia. It is sweeter than sugar and has virtually no calories.

    You Need Protein For Calories To Maintain Or Reduce Weight

    One reason that diabetes is an escalating problem for Americans is the emphasis on carbohydrates such as breads, cereals, rice, and pasta. Even carbohydrates from whole grain like brown rice and 100 percent whole wheat should be avoided by people who are diabetic or who are prediabetic.

    Scientists have discovered that the primary muscle building mechanism in the human body is a complex protein known as mTOR. Since mTOR is a part of the insulin pathway, it can be thwarted by insulin resistance. This is the reason high glycemic meals and diets can potentially prevent muscle development.

    Recent studies have reported substantial benefits of the high protein, low carbohydrate diet on muscle conditioning and weight loss. A key element in this diet regimen appears to be the high intake of the amino acid leucine, which is part of the branch chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine).

    The highest concentrations of leucine and branched chain amino acids (BCAA) are found in dairy products; particularly quality cheese and whey protein.

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