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Math Lesson: Counting Calories August 3, 2009

Filed under: food,hEaLtH — dragonfly180 @ 9:02 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I’ve stressed the importance of knowing how many calories to take in each day in a previous blog. You may be asking why and how do you figure this out? Let me answer both of those questions.
You can do all the walking and crunches and swimming you want, but if you’re eating too many calories, you just will not lose weight. For the first entire year I ran, I had this problem. I was running so much each week, but the scale barely moved. I just could not figure it out. I finally read about calories and understood why. I was taking in too many calories daily. My running was burning enough calories that I wasn’t gaining any weight, but I couldn’t lose because I had not created a deficit.

Let’s go back to the Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the minimum that you body needs to survive and run bodily processes throughout the day while maintaining your weight as it is. To find out your BMR, use a BMR calculator: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/
Or you can use the BMR formula if you just like to do equations!
English BMR Formula
Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in year )

Now, we have to do a little more math. My BMR is 1402.4 according to the BMR calculator.

Harris Benedict Formula

To determine your total daily calorie needs, multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:

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

Using the Harris Benedict Formula above, I am probably “very active” according to these guidelines, so I need to multiply my BMR (1402.4) by 1.725, which equals 2419. This is the amount of calories I need to sustain the amount of activity I’m doing if I want to maintain my weight. But I have to create a deficit if I want to lose weight.

There are 3500 calories in a lb of fat. So to lose 1 lb per week, I have to get rid of 3500 calories for the week through food, exercise, or preferably both. I need 2419 per day for maintenance at my activity level, which comes to 16,933 for the week (2419 x 7). Now, 16933-3500=13433. If you divide that over the seven days of the week, that’s 1919 per day. So I need to consume around 1900 calories per day to lose 1 lb. If I want to lose 2 lbs, I create a deficit of 7000 calories (or 3500 x 2). 16933-7000=9333/7=1419. Therefore, if I hope to lose 1 to 2 lbs, I need to consume between 1419 and 1919 per day. If I stop working out and become sedentary, I’d need far fewer calories per day in order to lose weight. So the more you workout, the more you are able to eat! :o) Never go below 1200 calories per day, though, even if the math comes out to less. This can be detrimental to your health and can also make you stop losing weight, because your body will go into starvation mode and your metabolism will slow down. You can make up for the extra calories by exercising.
For instance, suppose you are a sedentary person with a BMR of 1402.
1402.4 x 1.2 (for sedentary in the Harris Benedict formula above)= 1683 (your maintenance calories)
1683 x 7= 11781 (weekly calories for maintenance)
11781-3500= 8281/7= 1183(amount of calories needed per day to lose 1 lb. for the week)

Since this number is low and can possibly hurt your health, you could supplement it with exercise. For instance, walking for 30 minutes at my weight burns 156 calories. If I did that for four days each week, that would create a deficit of 624 calories that I could add back into my calories for the week, therefore enabling me to eat more calories per day while still losing the 1 lb. This is how the math would look:
11781 (weekly calories for maintenance) + 624 (your bonus calories from your exercise calorie deficit) = 12405 calories
12405-3500=8905/7=1272 calories per day (to lose 1 lb)
So by walking, you’ve gained yourself a few more calories per day to consume while still being able to lose the 1 lb. Imagine if you walked for an hour 5 days a week! But that’s enough math for me today.  ;o) If you want to see how many calories certain activities burn, check out this website:

One to two lbs per week is the suggested rate for losing weight. If you try to create a deficit for more than that, research shows that your chances of keeping it off in the long run are slim. Slow but steady weight loss should be your goal. That will also give you time to adapt to your new lifestyle.

Hope all that math wasn’t too discouraging. I just wanted to provide good examples. If you can figure out your calorie range and then start sticking to it, losing weight is pretty easy. Here are a few websites that will make it very easy to find calories for the foods that may not have labels you can peruse, such as fresh produce or a meal at a restaurant:



Why is Pizza So GOOD? July 31, 2009

spinachbacon pizza

Jamie once told me that pizza was the perfect food because you could add all of the food groups to it: bread, meat, veggies and fruit, cheese, oil. It has it all! Is this why we love it so much? All my friends know just how much of a sweets freak I am, but I would give up just about any sweet treat for a slice of good pizza. My favorite is feta cheese, spinach, and bacon. Yum yum!

So if it’s the perfect food, why do people who are trying to eat healthier avoid it so much? Let’s take a look at calories. The average person should get 2000 calories per day. That varies per person according to gender, age, height, and activity level.  To find out the minimum number of calories you need per day for your body to function properly, you need to find out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and multiply it by 1.2 for a sedentary lifestyle.


You will need slightly more than this amount of calories per day as your activity increases. That would be the amount you need to maintain your weight. You would have to create a deficit to lose weight. If that person needs to lose weight, he or she must get fewer calories and/or burn off some of those calories through cardio. I’ll blog about that later.

The average slice of pepperoni pizza has about 330 calories. It doesn’t seem too bad, right? Do you stop at just one slice? Didn’t think so. Neither do I. Say I eat 3 slices (I can definitely eat more than that, though!). The calories for 3 slices of pepperoni pizza would be 990 calories! Already, I’ve consumed over half my daily calories in just one meal.

It’s amazing how many calories are in certain foods. Let’s pick on fast food because it’s quick and easy, and people love it.

Can I take your order?

Hardee’s Monster Thickburger: 1420

Taco Bell Mexican Pizza: 530

Arby’s Roast Beef and Swiss Sandwich: 777

Sonic Fritos Chili Pie: 940

Dairy Queen Chicken Strip Basket (6-piece): 1270

Arby’s Meatball Toasted Sub: 1000

Sonic Super Sonic Cheeseburger with mayo: 980 or with mustard: 890

Would you like fries with that?

McDonald’s Large Fries: 500

Chick-fil-A’s Large Waffle Fries: 420

Sonic Large Onion Rings: 640

How about a drink?

Sonic Route 44 Cherry-Limeade: 463

Dairy Queen Medium Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard: 1030

McDonald’s Triple Thick Chocolate Shake (32 oz.): 1160

Wendy’s Large Coke: 270

Sonic Strawberry-Banana Fruit Smoothie: 460

Burger King Mocha Iced Coffee (15.9 oz): 380

Sonic Chocolate Java Chiller (20 oz): 760

So you drive in to Sonic and order the following meal:

Sonic cheeseburger w/mustard (890) + a large order of onion rings (640) + a big cherry limeade (463) = 1993 calories! In just one meal, you’ve already eaten more calories than you should in an entire day.

Here’s a mindblower for ya. You go into Arby’s and think, I’ll just have a little sweet treat. Oh look, Arby’s Pecan Sticky Buns in a 4 pack. You can eat the whole thing, right? Who doesn’t like pecan sticky buns?…You just consumed 2751 calories! I hope you shared those with someone!

Up against a meal like that, pizza doesn’t sound so bad. Of course, it’s still not a great choice if you’re trying to lose weight. It’s very easy to let one’s weight creep up when high calorie food is regularly a part of the diet. I won’t even get into the gross amount of saturated fat that Sonic meal above has, which clogs the arteries and envelopes the heart and other organs, making them work harder as they push against the excess fat.

Check out this website to find out more about calories:


I went with my aunt and mom to a diner today to eat lunch. I ordered fried green tomatoes as an appetizer because I absolutely love them. I decided I would have a “bad treat.” I don’t know if the cook didn’t cook them well or if I am just losing my taste for fried foods, but I didn’t enjoy them near as much as I used to. I have a recipe for a healthier baked version of fried green tomatoes that is so yummy! My husband couldn’t believe they weren’t fried. They were so tasty.

I originally intended for this to be just a random blog about my love for pizza and to maybe pacify my craving for it, and I ended up teaching again. *shruggz* Oh well! Maybe it wasn’t just chance that I picked teaching as my career.