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The Outdoor Athlete Book by Courtenay and Doug Schurman

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More Training Info > Calorie Targets

Calorie Targets

Q: How many calories should I try to consume on a daily basis?

A: We get asked this probably more frequently than any other question. The simplest way to give yourself a VERY rough estimate of targeted caloric intake is to take your body weight and multiply it by 10 (if you are female) or 11 (if you are male). This gives you your rough Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR, the calorie number you need to maintain your current weight assuming you are very inactive (i.e. comatose in bed all day long). In other words, if you are fairly active, you are going to need more than that to get through a day.

Therefore, a sedentary 150 pound woman would need to consume 1500 calories on a regular basis just to support daily metabolic functions (breathing, circulation, digestion, etc.) If she becomes active for 30-40 minutes a day, and burns an extra 350 calories, while staying at 1500 calories consumed, then in ten days she will have lost a pound (10 x 350 = 3500, the number of kilocalories in a pound of bodyweight). If she starts eating 350 more calories a day because she is suddenly a lot hungrier with her increased metabolism, that weight will not change despite her efforts. Most dietitians suggest that adults consume no less than 1200 calories a day, although there are medically supervised diets that will take patients below that for limited amounts of time.

So, the long and short of it is this:
TO LOSE WEIGHT, you need to BURN more calories than you are CONSUMING
TO MAINTAIN WEIGHT, you need to BURN the same calories you are CONSUMING
TO GAIN WEIGHT, you need to CONSUME more calories than you are BURNING

Without more input as to a) your age, b) your weight, c) your daily non-exercising activity level, d) your exercise profile (type, quantity, intensity) and e) whether you have any type of metabolic disorder that can throw off the above generalization, there is simply no complete and direct way to answer the question above.


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