The number of calories you burn in a day is known as your active metabolic rate (AMR). Rates vary from person to person, so it is crucial that you take the time to figure yours out — if you don’t, you run the risk of consuming too many calories or even consuming too few.
STEP 1: Daily Activity Score
Aside from determining how many calories you burn in a day, you also need to figure out what your physical activity level is. Determine which one of these descriptions best fits your day-to-day routine, then give yourself the appropriate score.
a. Sedentary Physical Activity Level
Do you have a desk job or do some other kind of work that keeps you in your chair for most of the day? If the answer is yes, your score is 1.1.
b. Light Physical Activity Level
Are you on your feet and walking around for at least half the day? Stay-at-home parents, salespeople, and doctors fall into this category. If this is you, your score is 1.2.
c. Moderate Physical Activity Level
If you’re on the move pretty much all day, with a few limited periods of being sedentary, this is the level for you. People in this category include gardeners, carpenters, and mail carriers. If you’re in this category, your score is 1.3.
d. High Physical Activity Level
Does your job require being constantly on the move, and does it entail significant amounts of manual labor? Construction workers, farm workers, and movers are among those who land in this category. If you’re in this group, your score is 1.4.
STEP 2: Exercise Expenditure
The number of calories you burn during any exercise session depends on a few things, primarily your body weight.
Use this chart to help you determine the number of calories you burn from exercise on an average day according to your weight, the type of exercise you do, and its duration. You can also use a heart rate monitor to get an accurate number. Write the number down.
STEP 3: Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Now comes the math. If you don’t know your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, it’s calculated by a number of factors, including age, weight, height, gender, environmental temperature, and diet and exercise habits. Because of these varying factors, it’s hard to pin down your BMR to the precise calorie, but we can get pretty close. Here are some formulas for figuring out your BMR. Plug your numbers into whichever formula applies to you.
MALE: 66 + (6.23 x body weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) − (6.8 x age in years)
FEMALE: 655 + (4.3 × weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) − (4.7 x age in years)
STEP 4: Active Metabolic Rate (AMR)
Now you have all three numbers: your daily activity score, exercise expenditure, and BMR. Simply multiply your BMR by your daily activity score, and then add your exercise expenditure. Whatever you get from this final calculation is your magic number.
TIP OF THE DAY
It’s Not Just About Weight Loss
You’re probably starting to wonder, “What’s with all the math?” Bear with me on this one. Finding out the number of calories you burn each day isn’t just a scientific approach to weight loss, it’s also about optimal health. Think about it. If you don’t know your magic number, you run the risk of consuming too many or possibly too few calories. Both alternatives can be harmful: Too many calories and you’ll store the excess as fat; too few and your body will go into starvation mode, locking in your existing fat.