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For people watching their weight, keeping track of calories is an important practice. If a person eats more calories than he or she burns each day, weight gain will occur. On the other hand, if more calories are burned than are consumed on a daily basis, weight loss transpires. Knowing how many calories your body needs each day is the first step in managing your weight.
A person’s daily caloric requirement is determined by three factors:
- Resting metabolic rate (RMR)
- Physical activity
- HThermogenesis (calories required for heat production)
Resting metabolic rate is the amount of energy (measured in calories) expended by the body during quiet rest. RMR makes up between 60 and 80% of the total calories used daily. Physical activity is the second largest factor contributing to daily calorie requirements. This is the most variable component of daily caloric requirement, as this number changes based on the frequency, intensity, and duration of a person’s workouts. Thermogenesis, also referred to as the thermic effect of food, is the smallest component. This is the amount of calories needed to digest and absorb the foods that are consumed. While certain diets claim to enhance this component, such as those promoting food-combining practices, no research exists to support that concept.
Since RMR and physical activity are the largest components of a person’s daily caloric requirement, estimating them based on a few personal variables can help you determine how many calories you should eat each day to manage your weight. The “Daily Caloric Needs Estimate Calculator” will provide a general caloric goal that, if you consistently achieve it, will help you prevent weight gain. To take weight management a step further and promote weight loss, you must increase your caloric expenditure through exercise. The bottom line is that regular physical activity is the most effective way to increase the body’s caloric expenditures.