What is a calorie?
A calorie is the unit of heat energy; to be more precise, a calorie is an energy required to increase 1 gram of water temperature by 1°C. Most of us wrongly understand or assume that calorie is related to food and weight loss or gain. But the calorie is widely applicable to any energy-related cycles or mechanisms other than the human body.
For us humans, when we take about calories, it means how much energy is required by our body to function correctly. Every food contains calories but in different amounts.
Foods are primarily made up of 3 types, carbohydrates, proteins, and fat.
- Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram
- Proteins have 4 calories per gram
- Fats contain 9 calories per gram
Calories burn during any activity you do, including your daily chores and tasks. Calories burn even for essential body functioning activities like breathing, circulating blood, and cell processes. Here are some types of calorie burns that occur in your body.
Basal metabolic rate (BMR): BMR is the energy your body needs to maintain fundamental functions like breathing, circulation, cellular processes, etc. Factors affecting your RMR are age, body size, and gender. Around 60-75% of the total calories you burn in a day account for BMR.
Thermic effect of food (TEF): the energy burnt to eat, process and store food is called TEF. it differs for every food and accounts for 10% of the calories burnt in a day.
Calories burn due to workout: depending on your training duration and intensity, it could be around 15-30% of your total energy expenditure, including the non-exercise activities.
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): this is the energy burnt during physical activities like walking around, household works, etc. it is totally dependent on how active your lifestyle is.
How to calculate how many calories to burn?
To maintain a healthy weight or to even shed some weight off, you need to know how many calories a day you need to burn every day.
To calculate how many calories first you need to burn in a day, many use the Harris-Benedict formula, which multiplies basal metabolic rate (BMR) to activity levels.
BMR is calculated using the below formula:
- For men: 66 + (6.2 x weight) + (12.7 x height) – (6.76 x age)
- For women: 655.1 + (4.35 x weight) + (4.7 x height) – (4.7 x age)
In the next step, you need to decide your physical activity levels and score them as follows:
- 1.2 for a person with a sedentary lifestyle with little to no exercise
- 1.375 for a lightly active lifestyle with light exercise for 1–3 days per week
- 1.55 for a moderately active lifestyle with moderate exercises for 3–5 days per week
- 1.725 for a very active lifestyle with strenuous exercises for 6–7 days per week
- 1.9 for the extra active lifestyle with very hard exercise, training, or a physical job
The last step is to complete the Harris-Benedict equation as given below
Factors that impact calorie burn
There are numerous factors that affect your training duration and intensity impact how many calories you burn in a day. Some of them are mentioned below.
The more they age, the less is the capacity to burn more calories.
Large and heavy people burn more calories than small and light people.
Men tend to burn more calories than women. You might be wondering about the reason. Sex determines how many calories are burnt, and that is why it is included in calculating BMR. Males have less body fat and more muscle mass than females, and more muscle mass means more calories are burned at rest.
The more physical movements and activities, the more calories you burn.
Weight loss tips
- If you are looking for weight loss, you need to keep yourself hydrated, reduce stress and get enough sleep.
- Reduce your calorie intake by 500 kcal per day to lose some weight. For example, if you need 2400 calories a day, take 1900 calories per day.
- Alternatively, you can even maintain your required calorie intake but do more physical activities to burn more calories.
- Eat healthy and nutritious foods.
- Choose healthy options like skimmed milk instead of whole milk, less consumption of processed food.
- Use smaller plates and bowls to make you feel like you have eaten more.
- Eat slowly and chew your food correctly.
- Make sure to read the nutrition label of the foods that you buy.
- Use a fitness tracker to monitor and remind yourself of the calories.
A calorie is an energy unit defined as the energy required to raise 1 gram of water by 1°C. While your body burns calories in different ways, it burns the majority of calories through BMR. To calculate the number of calories to burn in a day, we use the Harris-Benedict formula. This article will guide you on calculating how many calories you need to burn in a day and a few weight loss tips.