Keep Track, Move More!

This is my first blogging experience, so I will do my best to keep it short and to the point. As I continue to blog, I hope to address topics our M2M clients want more insight about.

The first topic I want to discuss today, are ways to determine and keep track of your total calories burned daily. This is useful to know because research has found that those keeping track of their daily intake and calories burned are more successful at achieving their weight loss goals. That being said, I am not saying the only way to lose weight is by counting calories. Many factors affect your weight including hormones (stress), food choices (empty calories vs nutrient-dense foods), gender and age. Knowing how many calories you burn daily will, definitely make you more accountable with your food choices.

Let's get started! When you're active, your body uses more energy (calories), so when you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight. As Greg mentions in his previous blog Eat Like Esky- weight management is as simple as balancing calories in vs calories out.

The Numbers Game
Everybody has their own specific Resting metabolic rate (RMR) which is based on weight, height, age and sex. RMR is the number of calories your body would burn if you stayed in bed all day. For example, a 140lb woman, aged 25 would have a RMR of 1435. The RMR doesn't factor in activities of daily living that burn calories such as sitting, eating, cleaning, driving, thinking, reading and exercise. Therefore, eating 1435cal is not enough to get you through the day. How do you determine how many calories you burn in a day? In order to figure this out, researchers have developed multiple equations to determine RMR and activity factors to help calculate your daily calories burned. You have to multiply your RMR by the right activity factor on a daily basis.

My RMR x Activity Factor = Daily Calories

For example, on a sedentary day (let's say, you are commuting and sitting at a desk all day) you would multiply 1435 x 1.2 = 1710cal whereas a highly active day (on a weekend- going on a hike) would be 1435 x 1.54 = 2220cal. It's easy to see how your daily calories burned fluctuate from day to day. So why is it important to know this number?

If weight loss is your goal, you would have to burn 3500 calories to lose 1 pound. So, if you cut 500cal from your diet each day, you would lose an average of 1 pound a week (500 calories x 7 days= 3500cal). As this can be challenging, another alternative would be to cut out 250cal from your diet and burn 250cal (30min walk= 200-300cal). This would still give you a deficit of 500 calories/day. The total calories you consume to lose weight would then be: 2220cal (tot cal burned) 500cal (calorie deficit) = 1720cal. Don't forget, there are many other factors to consider when looking to gain or lose weight, but it's definitely a starting point. So, if you would like to get an accurate measurement, speak with your M2M Coach.

Keeping Track
In recent years, the fitness industry has been overtaken by calorie trackers - Nike + Fuel Band, Fit Bit Flex, Polar Loop, just to name a few popular brands. They come in all shapes and sizes, but all have the same goals track your activity level throughout the day/night and count your calories burned. Calorie trackers are designed to encourage you to be more active, stay motivated and help reach your fitness goal. They are designed to make it easy by taking the math out of the picture.

These trackers use accelerator based technology to estimate how many calories you burn. Some just track your activity levels based on your heart rate or number of steps you take. Others include a range of features: monitoring your sleep, and/or allowing you to input the food you eat so you can compare calories in versus calories out. There is no one-size-fits all option, so it's best to compare different features and functions, and choose a model that is best for you.

Keep in mind-, just like the Daily Calorie equation is an estimate, these devices aren't perfectly accurate either. They will however, give you a ballpark number and allow you to compare your activity levels, day to day, to help you stay on track.

I brought this topic up because many individuals at M2M have similar goals such as weight loss and improving overall fitness while recovering from injuries. The average person will train 3x/week. This means in one week, you will dedicate 3 hours (180min) out of 168 hours weekly towards your fitness goals. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, this is enough. It's great to train at a moderate-intensity 3x/week, but what about the 165hours in the rest of the week?

A calorie tracker might be just what you need to stay motivated when you are on your own. You'll be surprised how it might spur you to be more active throughout the day taking stairs vs the elevator, and parking further away from your destination.

Keep Moving!