You’ve probably heard and read so much about healthy eating that you’re sick and tired of it all.
It just seems like too much work and no fun! The fact none of us can get away from however is that healthy eating, like fitness, is one of the pillars of a healthy lifestyle.
Understanding some basic principles of nutrition will help it all make sense and perhaps even spur you on to take that leap into a healthier future. It is never too late to make good lifestyle changes that improve your chances of living long and living healthy.
Metabolism and why it’s important
Metabolism refers to the biochemical processes that your body uses to carry out basic functions, such as breathing, keeping your heart pumping, digestion, controlling body temperature, brain function, and cell growth. Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR is the amount of energy, measured in calories, that is needed to allow your body to carry out these basic life functions at rest or when sleeping. Basal metabolic rate (BMR) affects the rate that you burn calories and is an important factor in whether you maintain, gain, or lose weight.
Several factors affect your BMR including age, genetics, weight, body fat percentage, your general state of health and gender. The lower your BMR, the more likely you are to be overweight. Your BMR slows down at roughly 5% every 10 years after the age of 20. This is why you gain weight, as you get older, if you maintain the same eating habits. Women have a lower BMR than men, because men usually have a lower percentage of body fat and a higher percentage of muscle. The higher your body fat percentage the lower your BMR.
Your total daily calorie requirement is the amount of calories needed for basic body functions, and any activity you do. It is equal to your BMR plus the calories needed for activity. The more active you are, the more calories you will expend or burn.
Total Daily Calorie Requirement:
- Sedentary(little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2
- Lightly active(easy exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375
- Moderately active(moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
- Very active(hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): BMR x 1.725
- Extremely active(very hard exercise/sports and physical job): BMR x 1.9
An active person burns up to one and a half times more calories than a sedentary person.
What goes in must come out
If you eat more than your body needs daily (BMR + your activity level), you will become overweight – that’s the bald truth. Here’s the good news – if you can increase your activity level a little and eat more nutritious foods, you can begin to correct the results of years of unhealthy eating habits.
Eating more calories than you expend = weight gain, as extra calories are stored as fat.
Eating the same calories as you expend = maintain your weight as there are no extra calories.
Eating fewer calories than you expend = weight loss, as your body uses up stored fat for additional energy.
Join us as we discuss good and bad foods in our next post.