Thursday, January 21, 2010

How To Figure Caloric Intake and Expenditure: The Cara Example

Hey, Cara. I could not post this as a comment because it was far too long. But I wanted to let you know this info tonight before I went to bed (or today for you :) ). If you don't mind me posting it (tell me if you do), it may also be helpful for others to see how it's done. And don't be intimidated by the information below. It's really not complicated, but I just wanted to make sure I covered everything I could think might pose an issue for you or anyone else.

Okay, calculating caloric intake and expenditure is a two-step process really (but a simple one if you go to the sites and use the easy calculator). I don't know if I explained the process well initially. That may have been what mucked poor Cara up. So I'll try to do a better, more thorough job here.

First you go to the BMR calculator page at I don't have a link to this one (though my link has a link :) ). This is different than your BMI, so don't even think about your BMI while you're doing this.

I cannot recall how tall Cara is, but I entered (guessed) 5'5 since I figure she is somewhere thereabouts (and that is about average--at least for Americans). (If your height is wrong (sorry :( ), you can go to that site and enter your height and other info). So what you do when you get there is enter your height, weight, and age (and you can even use the metric system--you can click a simple link to do this right above where you enter the info). I used the Imperial (US-used scale to make it easier for me--after I converted her kilos to pounds). After you enter this info and hit 'Calculate BMR', your BMR should be in red right above the calculator. (By the way, this is the area where you can change your weight to your goal weight and such to see what you will need to do to maintain when you get to that point).

Next, you go to the Harris-Benedict Formula page, which is where the real action happens (that is my Caloric Intake Formula Link on the right--it's a whole different page than the BMR page). Remember to use the BMR number you just calculated and not your BMI or any other number. So what I did with you was take Cara's BMR number and multiply it by the sedentary activity number of 1.2. I used the sedentary activity level in calculating this (I do this with mine almost every time to see what I could technically eat with the least possible activity--but you can change this to more accurately reflect your lifestyle if you do it again).

So, again, multiply your BMR--the number in red from the BMR calculator website above--by one of the activity numbers on the Harris-Benedict page. It is really as simple as this last sentence. For Cara (at 5'5" tall, which may or may not be her height), I got 1874.838 when I multiplied her figures by the sedentary 1.2 number (on my trusty pink calculator). Of course, you can do that part by hand too--and there is a formula for the whole deal that I can give you if this still doesn't work or make sense. Good luck everyone!


  1. Oh, you're an angel!! I don't mind you putting this info in at all! You're helping me!! And yes.., I am actually five foot five lol (and a half.. wonder if I've shrunk?) but I say five foot five for easier purposes. Clever you. I'm going to go and try it again. I obviously mucked it up good and proper (firstly by using the BMI I know of now which is 30.1 lol!!) Thanks xxx

  2. Ok I know what I did wrong. I used my BMI instead of BMR.. doh! I did it again following your instructions and it tells me that I should be eating 2148 calories per day.. and to lower that by 500 to lose weight.. but holy cow, that's still 1600 calories.. can I even get that much food down?? lol I don't know? It seems like a lot to me.

    Thanks so much for posting this. When I want to adjust things in future I will head back and use your links again. xx

  3. You can just enter in your goal weight in the BMR calculations to see what to do to maintain that when you get there. I like to do that to see what I'll need to be doing at that point.

  4. My doctor's office substitute nutritionist showed me this before surgery. It showed to loss two pounds a week I had to eat around 1600 calories.

    When I said this to the current nutritionist she freaked out. She said that didn't apply to after surgery since your pouch was so small. 1200 calories was the max and that I would loss 1lb a week with that. She even called the NP in to stress that I should eat that much.

    However, they couldn't answer my question on how the size of my pouch changed how my body uses calories. My metabolism didn't just get cut in half just because my pouch is small. I think the science is right and I am glad that some people have found success with it! My doctor's office still shriek when I talk about it, but I am losing more than the other patients I have seen.

  5. Thanks Bandita, this is helpful! It shows I should eat around 1200 cals a day to lose 2 lbs a week...well, that has not been happening on the weight loss side, though I do eat about that much! Unfortunately our bodies sometimes do not care about these formulas ;)