Out of curiosity, is there anyway to obtain a rough estimate of caloric needs on a daily basis that is actually accurate? I'm not hyper/hypo in any clinical sense, but the calorie calculators estimate calorie amounts that keep me hungry or low on energy--which leads to binging when I can't take it anymore. Any1 have any calorie calcs that they have had good results with..etc?
Let me preface with a short story.
I used to row lightweight crew. During the winter, we would practice indoors on the ergs (rowing machines) which are equipped with a device that says how much work you are doing. For example, over a 10,000 meter row, you may pull an average 500 meter split of 1:52. The whole time you're on the erg and rowing, you think your pushing yourself as hard as you can go, because last time you rowed, say, a 1:53 split and you think you've pushed your limit. After a few practices, coach would have us row blind- that is with the ergometer turned away, so only he and the coxswains can see what we're pulling. Invariably, everyone pulls harder and sets a new PR. That is, we did better and pushed ourselves further because we didn't have a frame of reference to judge our efforts on.
Apply this to BMR calculators and trying to eat accordingly, and the same is true (at least for me, I do not believe that I am an anomaly). I have no idea how many calories I burn during the day, and I generally have no idea how many calories I eat. However, when I am leaning up, I try to eat around 1gram of protein per pound to preserve muscle mass. For me, that is roughly 135-145 grams of protein. I set that target of protein and eat to get that in. Once I've got it, I stop eating aside from some berries post workout (I do not count the calories in non-starchy vegetables/roughage). It turns out, when I'm leaning I eat around 50-70% of my calories from protein (about 560 calories), which means I'm only taking in around 900 calories. Now, if I knew my BMR I'd be freaked out and would be like "that's way too little" and would actually try to consume MORE if I had known. BUt, it works for me, as it only takes about 10 days of this to be where I want to be again (with 2 higher carb reefed days where I eat some starch, some honey, and more fruit to refill glycogen so I can still workout with intensity as well as to boost leptin).
When I'm maintaing, again, I have no idea how much it is- I just listen to my body's cues, go by the mirror, appetite, energy levels, etc. I think you should learn to do this too, as it really builds a sense of awareness and trust between you and your body, which a lot of people lack. The only reasons you should not try listening to your body's signals is if 1) you eat when hungry and stop when satisfied but you eat poor quality food or 2) you are morbidly obese and the self control centers in your brain are destroyed so if you only eat when hungry, it will likely be to often or too much, or 3) you are anorexic and your body's cues hunger cues have been suppressed, so that if you only eat when hungry, you'll never gain weight. If you can rule out those 3 things, then screw the calculators and master your own body yourself. it will steer you the right way and tell you when where you're at much accurately than a computer can.
Hope that helps. Just my two cents :)
Most metabolic rate calculators are next to useless. They can give you a ballpark figure, but you have to keep in mind that the error margin could be as high as 30%!
They are usually based on the idea that people with similar height, weight, age, sex and body composition have similar resting metabolic rates. Not so! Studies show invidual variations in RMR can be as high as 30%, and that translate up to 500 calorie difference. 500 calorie error margin kinda throw a wrench on any calorie calculation!
See a good overview of metabolic rate studies here: http://www.howtoloseweightfastguide.net/metabolic-rate-how-many-calories-you-burn-per-day/
Then there's the fact that some people seem to be able to ramp up their metabolic rate during overfeeding. I don't have any studies to back this up, but I've seen this written about in a couple of credible blogs.
All this doesn't mean calories doesn't matter, but that those calculators should be left for weight watchers meetings!
The best idea is just to listen to your body. If you want to lose weight make sure you keep yourself little hungry every day. If you want to gain weight, eat a bit past the point you are full. I don't think it has to be any more complicated than that.
I use the FitBit. It gives me the caloric expenditure from walking and moving around, and I then manually add any additional activity from lifting, rowing, cycling etc. I've found that if I subtract 250 calories off the final number it gives me every day I have a very accurate picture of calories expended.
Here's my view.
Calories matter. However, so does food quality/sourcing, timing of intake, hormonal response/activity and other activity.
Paying attention to any of them by itself could cause issues with the others. If done singularily, none of the other 4 can go without check without negative results.
I've consumed insane amounts without any increase in body fat. I've also had issues getting shredded and losing a bit even with micromanagement of this stuff as much as possible.
I joined a gym a few years ago and the most useful thing that came out of that for me was that they calculated on a machine how many calories I use a day. It seems at female, 5'2" and fairly sedentary apart from the dogwalking I use about 1480 a day. I think this is spot on as I find if I eat more than this I put weight on.
I've found since doing paleo though that if you eat enough of the right oils it stops you being hungry. Very hard to resist things when your stomach is gnawing.
Sorry can't be more help than this.
Most gyms or personal trainers will calculate your BMR and then use the Harris Benedict Equation - all of the info and calculators are at the following link and also see below for the formulas
The BMR formula for Women is: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years )
Harris Benedict Formula
To determine your total daily calorie needs, multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:
If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
Basically, 3500 calories (restriction required to lose a pound), applied over the course of a week is going to require a caloric restriction of 500 calories/day (7 days * 500 calories = 3500) - ideally, this restriction should come from a combination of diet (maybe 2/3 to 3/4 of the calories restricted through diet) and exercise (1/4 to 1/3 of the restriction via exercise)
See how these numbers line up with what you have been eating - use an online calorie tracker like fitday.com for a week to gain a sense of how many calories you are really eating and what your nutrient ratios look like and this should give some better insight
Have you thought about the BodyBugg? I used it for a while and I don't know if it was "spot on" but I had a # everyday and I could change my intake based on that #. they say it is accurate within 10%. Like I said, I don't know if it was accurate but I could adjust my intake based on the # it gave me each day and I was able to drop the 10 lbs that were bugging me. Having said that, it stopped working after 1 year and never gave an accurate read for some activities like cycling.
I like data so for me it was good, until the damn thing broke. Their customer service was awful too.
You can calculate a pretty good estimate using the above mentioned Harris-Benedict method, but if you want a exact look at what is going on, you'll have to go in for some metabolic testing. http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/cmp/tab/glance
(Less reputable, but a nice overview) http://www.shape.com/weight-loss/weight-loss-strategies/metabolic-testing-should-you-try-it
That would show the full state of your body's metabolism and allow you to find the exact number of calories you need. Granted that number will change with activity levels, but that's a different critter altogether.
I used to worry about this but I ate mindfully and to satiety and for 1 week I weighed everything to the half gram. My calories were between 2560 and 2640 everyday without fail whether it was 3 high carb meals or 1 heavy fat meal post IF. Once you are healthy calories counting probably isn't needed.
It's not very many. I just calculated I need only 1700 a day or a bit less to maintain weight and would need to go down to about 1200 even just to lose 1 pound a week. How do people do it? I can easily eat 1000 calories at once of almonds.