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How to Track Your Calories and Lose Weight

Has winter not been so nice to your midsection? Do you want to drop a few pounds before spring? “A healthy weight loss goal is about a pound a week,” says Jamie Saunders, M.S., a registered dietitian at University of Utah Health Care. “Theoretically, it comes down to math. Ideally, if you are eating fewer calories and/or burn more calories than your body needs, you should lose weight.” Here’s how to calculate the numbers to achieve your goals.

First, calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR), or the number of calories you need while your body is at rest:

Since your body is not at rest all day long, you need to factor activity level into the equation. If you’re moderately active, exercising three to five days a week, multiply your BMR by 1.55* to determine your daily caloric needs. Alternatively, this website calculates the number for you.

How to lose a pound a week

One pound is equivalent to 3,500 calories. Simply put, to lose a pound, you either need to reduce the number of calories you consume over a given period of time (i.e., eat 500 calories fewer every day for a week) or burn the calories through increased activity. “A combination of these two approaches is the best approach,” Saunders says.

Download this form, enter your numbers and start shedding weight—the healthy way.

* If you’re sedentary, multiply your BMR by 1.2. If you’re extremely active, multiply by 1.9. 

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