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How many calories should you burn per day?

Listen. If you’ve spent any time trying to lose weight, learning how to do it, or even knowing someone who’s trying to do it, you’ve probably come across some kind of calorie counting aspect. And of course, most of the really popular weight loss programs revolve around counting and monitoring your caloric intake. But there’s one thing these programs don’t seem to tell you as they cash your monthly check, and that’s how easy counting calories can be.

You don’t need a calculator, a large poster-sized graph, or any of those other things. Read on and I’ll tell you (almost) everything you need to know.

If you want to know how many calories to burn per day, you need to think in terms of energy, because that’s what calories measure.

I know, you probably learned most of this stuff in high school, but some of your less educated classmates must have been napping and napping after recess or something. Because people tend to “freak out” when they hear that other “C-word.” But the truth is that calories keep us healthy and we need those calories to live!

How do we get that energy? Of food and drink. Get out your blackboard, it’s math time. Don’t grow up on me!

Let’s say someone has an intake of 3,000 calories per day. To maintain their current weight, they would also need to burn off (or “oxidize”) exactly that much. To gain weight, they would need to burn less than 3,000 calories per day.

For example, to gain weight at the rate of 1 pound per week, they would need to burn about 2,400 calories. And, to lose weight, they would need to burn more than 3,000 calories. So, changing the sum above, this person would need to burn approximately 3,600 calories per day to lose weight at a rate of 1 pound per week.

So, in mathematical terms:

Calories burned – Calories eaten = Calories lost (lost weight)

for example, 3600 – 3000 = 600 (1 pound)

And, that’s basically it. If you’re trying to make a weight loss plan that achieves some “goal” you’ve set in your mind, you shouldn’t have a problem setting realistic goals. Obviously, foods have different amounts of calories in them. While a candy bar or energy drink will be high in calories, root vegetables will be low in calories. There has been a lot of legislation in the last two decades, which now means that the amount of calories contained in food is frequently shown on packaging: especially for foods and beverages where the calorie content is particularly high.

The three ways to burn calories

Now, if you really just need to know how many calories to burn, you’re good to go. But if you’re really interested in how to keep those pesky calories down once you start eating them, then you’ve come to the right place. Calories are burned in three different ways.

A whopping 60% of calories are burned through your ‘Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)’. These are the calories that must be burned simply to stay alive. If you did nothing but lie in bed all day, these calories would still burn. They are necessary to keep your body working. Now the good thing is that if you’re working out the right way (ie strength training) you’ll naturally increase your BMR anyway. Pretty nice, huh?

30% of calories are burned through activity. This could be anything from dipping your hand into a bag of your favorite potato chips to a cross-country run. Obviously, these activities will result in a different amount of calorie burn, but they still both burn calories. However, it should be clear that for people who lead a completely sedentary life, that is, who do not move much, the number of calories lost through activity can be as low as 15%. That kind of knowledge helps explain how a little bit of inactivity can easily lead to a lot of weight gain.

10% of calories are burned by digesting food. This means eating, absorbing, digesting, and utilizing food. From these three methods of burning calories, it’s clear to see what methods can be used to burn more calories. And that’s activity! Listen, you really don’t need to be a basketball player or rugby star to increase the number of calories burned through activity. Once you’ve figured out how many calories to burn per day, you can burn them off simply by making simple changes to your day. Walking to the store instead of taking the car, taking a walk while waiting for an appointment to start, and parking as far away from the building as possible within the parking lot limits are all good ideas.

Also: eat regularly and lightly. Five small meals per day will make your digestive system work harder and therefore burn more calories through digestion than if you had two or three meals per day. Also, this will help keep you from snacking between meals.

There are many other ways you can burn calories. However, the most important thing to remember is the following popular phrase: ‘Keep moving’. From drumming your fingers to tapping your feet, keep your body going, no matter what you’re doing.

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