Dear Fellow Business Traveler,
Happy New Year!
88% of you will go on a diet as part of your New Year’s resolution. How
can you be successful? Forget fad diets;
losing or maintaining weight is simple math. Take in fewer calories
than you burn and you will lose weight.
Travel Fit Tip: Eat less...
In this month’s article, I explore how to calculate your allowable
daily caloric intake, how to track it effectively, and how to calculate
your activity level.
The rest is up to you. Congratulations
charge of your
nutrition and good luck!
To Your Health,
Customer Service, Healthy Travel Network
Calculating Your Allowable
First, you need to figure out a reasonable caloric intake based on your
age, weight, sex, and daily activity level.
Each of us has a basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR represents the
number of calories that you
must consume each day to exist. Your body uses these calories for
your heart, breathing and so on. BMR varies by age and sex, and oh so
unfortunately, decreases as we get older.
There’s little that you can do in the short term to positively affect
your BMR. Studies have shown that people with lower body fat content
have a higher BMR, so there’s hope for you to increase your BMR in the
long term through diet and exercise.
Travel Fit Tip: If you
consume fewer calories than your BMR on a
regular basis, your body will lower your BMR by going into “starvation
Our bodies have been tuned through evolution to lower their caloric
needs in times of famine. By eating fewer calories than your current
BMR, you are telling your body that you’re starving, and it will adjust
accordingly. Starvation diets don’t work!
Calories that you burn on top of your BMR come from activity, whether
it be walking the dog, mowing the lawn, housework, or sporting
activities such as running, aerobics, golf, tennis, and so on.
Obviously, the more calories that you burn
through activity, the
bigger the gap between your calories consumed and calories burned,
helping you to loose weight faster.
Don’t be fooled by the FDA’s
standard 2,000 calorie per day baseline
for nutrition labels. This standard represents an average of a
range of ages and both sexes. For example, I am a very active
individual and my allowable caloric intake is only 1625 calories per
Use our new calculator to
compute both your BMR and your active
metabolism. Be realistic about your average daily activity level.
Remember, there are seven days in the week and don't forget to factor
in vacation days, sick days, and other "inactive" days.
How Much Should You Eat?
Now that you know your BMR and active metabolic rate, you can figure
out how many calories you should eat each day to safely lose weight.
Experts recommend eating 200 calories more than your BMR for safe
weight loss, or if you are very active, 200 calories less than your
active metabolic rate.
Your Allowable Daily Intake (ADI) of calories should be the greater of:
BMR + 200 calories
Active Metabolic Rate - 200 calories
You can increase your weight loss by further reducing your calories,
but you should not lose more than 1/2 to 2
pounds per week. For
healthy weight loss, your maximum reduction in calories shouldn't be
more than 500 per day.
With that number in hand, let's look at tools for monitoring your
Calorie Counting Databases
Most of us
eat 700 calories per day more than we realize. That amounts to almost
1.5 pounds gained per week! It pays to track your calories to
make sure you aren't eating too much.
The advent of the Internet has brought us many great calorie databases.
One of my favorites is http://www.calorieking.com,
which has a remarkably complete index of foods including many prepared
foods and restaurant foods.
Alternatively, if you’ve eaten at a chain restaurant or eaten a brand
food, try the restaurant or manufacturer’s web site. Most post detailed
nutrition information on their sites.
If you want very detailed information on nutrition content, including
sugar breakdown (fructose, glucose, etc.), water content, fats, amino
acids, and all minerals and vitamins, try the USDA web site at http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/.
Calorie Counting Software
Many great, inexpensive software programs exist for tracking your foods
and activity on a daily basis. I started tracking my calories about
three months ago and have found it to be fairly easy because I am
frequently at the computer.
If you are honest with yourself, the software is great tool for really
assessing whether your ADI is on target and where the bulk of your
calories are coming from. In addition, if
you are trying a particular
diet such as low-carb or low-fat, these tools will help you track your
caloric breakdown so that you can monitor your compliance with the diet
I also like the fact that during the afternoon, I can quickly plug in
breakfast, any morning snack, and lunch, to get a sense of how I am
doing before I decide what to have for dinner.
You can find many programs on Google. My
personal favorite is FitDay.
only version is $19.95, and it's quick and easy to use, with a fairly
robust database of
If you are serious about
counting calories, I highly recommend spending
$15 to $25 dollars on a software program. Trying to count
paper is very time consuming and laborious. Most of us will quickly
grow tired of the effort and give up.
Maximize Your Exercise
If you can’t eat less, then
exercise more. Not only will this allow you
to still lose weight without having to make significant calorie
reductions, over time you will build more
muscle which in turn will increase your BMR,
enabling you to lose more
Per Hour has a great calculator to help you assess how many
calories you are burning during your workouts or just about any daily
activity. My favorite for this time of year: taking down the Christmas
tree, which burns about 100 calories per half hour. Try tracking your
activity for a week to see if your estimates were accurate.
For a simple paper-based activity log, check out The Complete Travel
If you’re using an online calorie counting program, most will allow you
to log time spent on various activities and will compute the calories
burned for you and will compare those to your calories consumed.
Mind Over Matter
Lastly, controlling what you eat
is an exercise in mind over matter.
Many of us fall prey to emotional eating. For a few tips on making sure
you stay on the wagon, check out the article What
You Should Know Before Starting a Diet in our new Travel
Fit Travel Book
Out, Eat Right
||by Hope Warshaw
realistic guidelines for making healthier menu choices.