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You can calculate your calorie needs in many ways.
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Your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is the number of calories your body burns just by existing each day, including through processes such as organ function. Determining your total calorie needs involves calculating either your basal metabolic rate or resting metabolic rate, which are similar, and multiplying the rate by an activity factor that takes into account how physically active you are on average each day.
The Harris-Benedict Equation
Invented in 1919, the Harris-Benedict equation uses weight in kilograms, height in centimeters and age in years and multiplies them by predetermined constants to determine basal metabolic rate. Activity factors range from little to no exercise to very heavy exercise. In 1984, The Harris-Benedict Equation was revised to be more accurate. Many online Harris-Benedict calculators are available.
The Mifflin-St. Joer Equation
In 1990, a new equation for calculating basal metabolic rate appeared on the scene more accurate than the Harris-Benedict. Many online Mifflin St. Joer equation calculators are available to make this calculation easier. Rather than calculating basal metabolic rate, this equation calculates resting metabolic rate, which is also multiplied by an activity factor based on the frequency and intensity of the exercise.
Lean Body Mass Formulas
The first two formulas only take body weight into account, rather than lean body mass, or muscle mass, which evidence shows is actually the best predictor of resting or basal metabolic rate. Two equations take advantage of lean body mass values: the Katch-McArdle Formula and the Cunningham Formula. A major drawback to these formulas is the difficulty of obtaining lean body mass percentage, which must be done by a trained professional.
A Simple Method
A very simple way to roughly estimate your calorie needs is explained by the University of Maryland Medical Center. This is not as accurate as the above equations but it is much simpler for quick estimates. For a moderately active man, multiply your weight in pounds by 15 and for an inactive man multiple your weight in pounds by 13. For a moderately active woman, multiply your weight in pounds by 12 and for an inactive woman, multiply your weight in pounds by 10.