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Calculating Your Nutritional Needs

Updated on December 19, 2012

Calculating your Nutritional Needs

Frances Bleuet-Author and Clinical Nutritionist

How many calories do you need?

Written by Frances Bleuet, Owner of Nutrition for Weight Loss-Nutrition/Weight Loss counseling

Calorie Calculations are based on activity level. To maintain your ideal weight, you need to eat approximately the same number of calories that you burn. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you eat less calories than you burn, you will lose weight. To calculate your calorie needs, multiply your weight by your activity level as follows:

To Calculate Calories: Weight X activity level = calories needed daily to maintain weight


Level of Activity

Basal Metabolic Rate

Women lbs X 10

Men lbs X 11

Sedentary (no weekly activity)

Women lbs X 11

Men lbs X 12

Moderately Active (aerobics 3X wk)

Women lbs X 13

Men lbs X 14

Active (aerobics 4-5 X week)

Women lbs X 15

Men lbs X 16

Very Active (aerobics 6-7 X week)

Women lbs X 18

Men lbs X 19

How Much Protein do you Need?

To Calculate Protein Needs

Protein is needed for growth, development, energy and to make hormones, antibodies and enzymes. It is necessary to maintain the proper pH balance in the body and is important for healing and tissue repair.

Protein is made up of amino acids. Some of these amino acids can be made by the body. The amino acids that the body cannot make are called essential amino acids because we must obtain them from food. Meat and dairy products contain all of the essential amino acids. Most vegetables, grains, beans, and nuts only contain some of the essential amino acids, but when combined properly and eaten together, they form complete protein.

The best protein supplements are desiccated liver and brewer's yeast.

To calculate protein needs: Multiply the number of calories you need a day (from above equation) by 15%, then divide by 4 to get the number of grams of protein needed daily.

Calories X .15 = calories needed daily from protein, then divide by 4 = number of grams of protein needed daily


Are You Eating Enough Carbohydrates?

To Calculate you Carbohydrate Needs

Carbohydrates are used for energy. Our bodies will only use protein or fat for energy when carbohydrates are not eaten. Carbohydrates are mostly found in plant foods such as: fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, grains and some milk products.

Most people get plenty of carbohydrates, but it is important to eat the right kind. Although sugar and white flour both supply carbohydrates, neither are a good source of any other nutrients, and neither supply fiber. Refined sugar contains no nutritional value at all. It is considered an empty calorie food. Not only is it devoid of any nutritional value at all, but your body needs vitamins to digest it. So you lose nutrients every time you eat refined sugar (table sugar)

Whole grain carbohydrates contain fiber. Fiber can reduce cholesterol levels, enhance bowel function, aid in weight control, increase the number of good bacteria in the intestines, reduce the risk of cancer and remove toxins from the body. Fiber is found in plant foods such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and vegetables.

To calculate your carbohydrate needs: Multiply your calorie needed daily by 60%, then divide by 4 to get the number of grams of carbohydrates needed daily.

Calories X .6 = calories needed daily from carbs, then divide by 4 = number of grams of carbs needed daily


Does Your Diet Contain Too Much Fat?

To Calculate your Fat Needs

Fats are a required nutrient, we need them to live. Fats are necessary to break down the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, so that our bodies can use them. It is needed for energy, growth, development, hormone production, cushioning our organs, promoting the growth of good bacteria in our intestines, and appetite control.

Most people get enough fat from their diet, but it is important to eat the right kinds of fats. Fats are made up of fatty acids. Our bodies can synthesize most of these fatty acids. Fatty acids that cannot be made by the body are referred to as essential and must be obtained from foods. Only two fatty acids cannot be made by the body. They are linoleic acid from nuts, seeds and vegetable oils and alpha-linolenic acid found mostly in vegetable oils and fish.

To calculate your fat needs: Multiply your total calories needed daily by 25%, then divide by 9 to get grams of fat needed daily.

Total calories X .25 = calories needed from fat, then divide by 9 = number of grams of fat needed daily


Are You Getting Enough Water?

To Calculate your Water Needs

Water transports nutrients and waste, and is needed for digestion, absorption, circulation and to maintain proper body temperature. Spring water bottled in glass bottles is the safest and healthiest to drink. Water bottled in plastic can contain chemicals from the plastic. Sometimes the water even tastes like plastic. Bottled water taken from filtered water (instead of spring water) is missing valuable minerals. Overall, we get a significant amount of our minerals from unfiltered water. Tap water contains minerals, but it also may contain contaminants, as well as added chlorine.

Drink natural spring water bottled in glass whenever possible. Water requirements can also be met by consuming fruit and vegetable juices, sports drinks and soups.

To calculate your water needs: Multiply your weight by 5%. That is the number of 8 oz glasses of water needed daily.

Weight X .05 = number of 8 oz glasses of water needed daily.

If you are under a medical doctor's care for any medical conditions, follow your doctor's orders on all nutritional requirements.

This article was taken from excerpts from EveryBODY Can Heal, written by Frances Bleuet and Angela LaMor RMA, NCPT.


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