Featherweights For those with just a few pounds, or trying to lose those last few pounds.

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Old 03-19-2007, 10:29 PM   #1  
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Question How many calories should I be eating?

I am shocked by how many calories I eat in a day!!

I am 139 and would like to get down to 115 (or perhaps 125, depending on how I feel at the respective weights).

I exercise 6 days of week -- with a goal to do cardio all six days and strength work 2-3 days. My cardio is usually -- in this order of frequency -- running (C25K, so I'm just a beginner!), Turbo Jam, walking on an incline, or the elliptical.

For healthy, but steady, weight loss, what would a reasonable daily calorie intake?

Thanks!
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Old 03-20-2007, 02:34 AM   #2  
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There are several websites that you can use to calculate your RMR (resting metabolic rate).
- http://nutrition.about.com/library/b...tion_guide.htm
- http://www.calorieking.com/tools/weight_maintenance.php
- http://www.calorie-count.com/calories/calories-goal.php

There are more out there and also some formulas you can use but I don't have them bookmarked so I can't remember what they are. Hopefully someone else will post some.

When using these tools, it's important to note whether they are calculating the calories you need to maintain your current weight or to lose weight. If they are giving you maintenance calories, a rule of thumb is to subtract 500 per day to lose 1 lb per week. (You need to burn 3,500 calories more than you consume to lose 1 lb). But don't go below 1,200 calories per day; you need to consume at least this much to ensure you get the nutrients you need.

Also, remember that this is an art, not a science. You can use the websites/formulas as a starting point but then you may need to tweak it a little bit. Another method to use, especially since you know how many calories you are consuming now, is to just subtract 100 calories per day until you start losing weight. This way you are consuming the maximum calories you can to lose weight, which gives you some room to drop your calories if you hit a plateau.

If you been maintaining your weight at your current calorie level, you could eat 500 less per day to start with, try that level for a couple of weeks, and see if you are losing weight. If you aren't losing, drop another 100 per day, try that level for a week and see if it helps. Just keep dropping in 100 calorie increments on a weekly basis until you are losing weight. As you subtract calories, I think it's a good idea to stick with a level for at least a couple of days to a week before dropping more, to give your body a chance to show the impact of the change. You aren't going to see an overnight difference with a drop of just 100 calories.

I started about 10 lbs higher than you and have the same goal weight (although I'm not sure that 115 lbs is a realistic goal for me). I started my program at 1,200 calories per day, which is a number I got off a website. But the website did not take into account the exercise I was doing, so after a few months I decided I could eat an additional 100 calories per day. I lost about 1 lb per week on this plan until I got within 10-15 lbs of my goal weight. At that point, things slowed down considerably. Right now I'm eating about 1,400 to 1,500 per day and exercising like a mad woman. I'm still losing weight (at least I am when I stay on plan), but very slowly.

My guess is that your calories should probably be within 1,200 to 1,600 per day. I emphasize that this is a guess--I could be way off; I don't know how tall you are or how long your cardio workouts are and I'm not a nutritionist, I'm just basing this on my own experience.
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Old 03-20-2007, 01:58 PM   #3  
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Barbara,

Thank you so much for your very thorough explanation! I'm 5'4, so your advice and experiences are very applicable to me. I'll check out the websites now and see what I discover.

I think wiping out 500 calories per day is a great place to start. I bet it takes me the better part of the week just to learn how to get myself down to about 1550. (What I charted yesterday, which was unfortunately, a fairly typical day, was just under 2100.)
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Old 03-20-2007, 04:48 PM   #4  
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Barbara,

Thank you so much for answering Poppins3 question. I needed to know how much I should be eating now that I've gotten to my goal weight. If I wanted to, I could still lose another 5 pounds (doesn't everyone think that!) but any lower would be too much.

The three sites all gave me different answers, so I'll average them to get a target to shoot for. They did tell me that at my present calorie intake, I'll easily loss the 5 in 6 weeks. After that, I'm going to have to start eating more just to maintain.
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Old 03-20-2007, 05:22 PM   #5  
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There are other sites that do the same thing. The main problem I've had is that they all say different things - so I figure out an average and go with that.

I will say that you should *never* go under the 1200 calories per day, except while under a physician's care. And you may need to be eating a lot more calories than that.

I did for awhile, doing a weekly average of 1200 instead of a daily one, and suffered significant health problems as well as hair loss as a result. I had to see a derm and do all sorts of yucky stuff to get my hair back to where it was. Now that I'm committed to healthy eating for life, I'm able to not be addicted to losing a certain amount in a given amount of time. I continue to eat healthy a nd exercise, and my body complys. I don't try to speed up the process.

You shouldn't be restricting calories beneath your RMR - very long, detailed and great explanation here. This is where my doctor told me to go to read about it: It's an excellent site www.shapeup.org - a nonprofit dedicated to supporting healthy weight for life.

http://www.shapeup.org/atmstd/sud10v3/sud10s7.php
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Old 03-26-2007, 06:04 AM   #6  
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Thank you for those web sites I have always been frustrated that all the advice is for someone of average height, so being able to tailor it to my 5'1" has helped a lot.
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Old 03-26-2007, 09:00 AM   #7  
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That made me feel good to put in my "maintenance weight" (which I actually typed in my goal weight). It said i could eat 1639 calories to "maintain" my goal weight when I get there! Very encouraging...I can handle that many calories per day! Another awesome website that I use a lot is www.caloriesperhour.com. It has a calories burned section where you can look up all kinds of activities (even sex ) to see how many calories you have burned that day!
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