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Nutrition Column

Caloric requirements

There are many ways to determine one's caloric requirements. The most precise is performing gas analysis in a laboratory setting. This is quite expensive and limiting.

Other methods come from indirect estimates using equations, standard values, and calculations. Each of these methods has there strengths & limitations.

Often one's estimated caloric requirement is quite different from their actual caloric requirement. As a result of diet, lifestyle, and genetics one's metabolism can shift upward or, more commonly the case, downward.

Therefore, in the later case, they require far fewer calories to maintain their basal cellular and physiological function along and to perform their daily activities than they would if they were functioning optimally.

One way to tell if that is the case is to determine both values. And the best way to determine your present caloric requirements is to calculate your current caloric intake by keeping precise track of the foods and amounts you eat over a three to five day period.

During the same time you keep track of your body weight. If your weight is stable during the recording period then the calculated caloric intake is what you require to maintain your present weight.

In order to lose weight you would then need to create a deficit of 500 to 1000 kcalories per day in order to lose one to two pounds per week, respectively.

If, however, your actual caloric intake is significantly reduced (typically as a result of repeated dieting and poor nutrient selection) you often can lose weight simply by modifying your nutrient intake (reducing saturated and trans fats, increasing fiber, etc.) and increasing your expenditure. At the same time you often can cycle your caloric intake slowly raising your calories toward an optimal intake level.

Written by Dr. Sternlicht for on 3.05.06