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   Diet and Weight Loss: Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Calories burned, BMI, BMR and RMR calculator

1. How do I calculate calories burned for weight loss?
  Every body gets curious to calculate the amount of calories they burn in a day or an hour. It is easy to find out calories burnt while jogging or dancing. But when it comes to shedding your calories by going for a walk instead of sitting and watching TV, then the normal calorie count is not right.
  You want to know the amount of calories you have lost after your walk. But the amount of calories lost will not be equal to the calories you have lost while walking. Because if you were not walking, you would have been watching TV and sitting there would have made you lose a certain amount of calories. To calculate the calories lost you have to subtract the calories burned by the old activity from the calories burned by the new one.
  Recalculating weight loss
  As you get used to a particular activity, you will require lesser energy to work out. So the energy lost during walking or jogging will decrease unless you extend your time. In such cases, you will have to balance it by proper eating habits. You eat healthy food and stay away from red meat. The good news about calorie burning is that you will lose weight, look good and lead a healthy life.
2. What does BMI stand for?
  Obesity and Over weight are the growing problem of today's population. It is the main cause of certain diseases and health problems.
  Obesity ranges are calculated by using weight and height to calculate a number called the Body Mass Index [BMI]. It is used for most of the people because it correlates with their amount of body fat.
 
Height Weight Range BMI Considered
  124lbs or less Below 18.5 Under Weight
5'9 Below 18.5 18.5 to 24.9 Healthy Weight
  169 lbs to 202 lbs 25.0 to 29.9 Over Weight
  203 lbs or more 30 or higher Obese
  Although BMI correlates with the amount of body fat, it does not directly measure body fat. In addition, so many athletes may have a BMI, which identifies them as overweight though they don't have excess body fat.
  Other significant methods to estimate body fat includes measurements of skin fold thickness and waist circumference, ultra sounds, compound tomography, waist to hip circumference ratios and magnetic resonance imaging.
3. What do BMR and RMR stand for?
  BMR and RMR are guesstimates of how many calories you would burn if you were to do nothing but rest through out the day. It is the minimum amount of energy required to keep the body active or functioning which includes your heart beating, lungs breathing and body temperature normal.
  BMR is the metabolic rate calculated when an individual is at rest in a warm environment and has not eaten at all for at least 12 hours. The release of energy is sufficient only to keep the organs functioning.
RMR is Resting Metabolic Rate. It is synonymous with Resting Energy Expenditure or REE. These measurements are taken under less restricted conditions than BMR.
  When ever you make a calculation with the calories burned, BMI, BMR and RMR calculator, your BMR AND RMR will be calculated automatically.
  A few observations
 
  • When your weight goes down, your BMR and RMR will go down
  • When your height decreases, your BMR and RMR reduces
  • As you age your BMR and RMR goes down
  As you age, you become shorter and lose weight- the BMR and RMR will go down, you will need to eat less, and do more work outs to balance your current weight.
  When the testing is not practical, equations have been developed to calculate BMR and RMR. The Harris-Benedict equation has been the standard for a long time. It is still the popular one.
  Equation for BMR [Harris - Benedict]
  For men: [13.75*w] + [5.0*h] - [6.76*a] +66
  For women: [9.56*w] + [1.85*h]-[4.68*a] + 655
  The Muffin equation for RMR
  For Men: [10*w] + [6.25*h]-[5*a] +5
  For women: [10*w] + [6.25*h] - [5*a] -161
  W= weight in kg
  H= height
  A = age
  Criticisms
 
  • The Harris - Benedict equation does not calculate BMR but mainly RMR
  • The test subjects used in Harry- Benedict's equation did not have adequate obese people
4. How does the activity calculator work?
  The calorie burned calculators use data collected by measuring amount of oxygen consumed while performing different activities. A number called MET [Metabolic Equivalent] is assigned to each activity in order to point out its level of intensity. An activity with a MET of one corresponds to a person's RMR [Resting Metabolic Rate]
  The best way to calculate the calories burned will be to use the number of MET'S assigned to the activity you select, your RMR and the length of the time you performed the activity.
  The calories burned calculations are based on your weight rather than your RMR. So you will see that a change in the parameters for your age, sex and height- your RMR and BMR calculations will change but the calories burned calculations will not be affected.
5. How accurate is the activity calculator?
  Usually the MET, body weight and duration of activity are used to calculate the number of calories burned. A fourth important parameter is level of intensity, the intensity at which the activity is performed.
  If we take examples, running is specific and is listed at different speeds; light, moderate and vigorous. Activities like attending class are general.
  The number of calories burned can be determined by the level of intensity. One method to find out the accuracy is by taking a group of people and ask them to perform activity at light, moderate and vigorous levels of intensity and take measurements. The participants will feel the level of intensity and measurements are saved. It is not a scientific method. But it is a more practical one.
  The very heavy individuals may need extra energy to carry out weight bearing activities. But that is not counted here. It is the same for lightweight individuals. They will not take the estimated calories to do weight bearing activities. And the actual calories burned will be much lower. This also applies to individuals who are very strong and very weak. Very strong individuals take more calories to do their activities where as very weak individuals with below average amount of muscles will burn fewer calories while performing a task.
  Other factors not accounted include:
 
  • age
  • efficiency of movement
  • geography
  • environment
  So, the accurate way to calculate calories burned is to measure the RMR and multiply the number by MET value.
6. What is the source of the activity data?
  METs used to calculate the number of calories burned is adapted from Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Whitt MC, Irwin ML, Swartz AM, Strath SJ, O Brien WL, Bassett DR Jr, Schmitz KH, Emplaincourt PO, Jacobs DR Jr, Leon AS. Compendium of Physical Activities: An update of activity codes and MET intensities. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2000;32 (Suppl):S498-S516.
  Snow boarding: METs were estimated based on the results of self.com
  Pilates: METs were estimated by Kevin Bowen, President and co founder of Pilates Method Alliance
  In - Line skating: These are not based on MET's. The calculator uses Bob Kailashs' equation.
  Tread mill: MET's were taken from the console of a popular treadmill
7. Why are some activities missing from the list?
  All the activities are based on the compendium of physical activities. Newer activities like Elliptical trainer will be missing here. But it will be added as soon as reliable data will be collected. The best solution is to calculate calories burned using an activity on the list that feels.
 



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