So it’s a new year and everyone’s gyms are packed to the point of being downright annoying. Americans are fat and each year, they try and lose weight when the calendar hits January 1st. I’ve actually put on weight over the past few months because of a conference in DC where I did nothing but eat and drink, the Thanksgiving holiday where I did nothing but eat and drink, and the Christmas/New Year’s holidays where I did nothing but eat and drink. See a pattern here? The formula to losing weight is simple. Burn more calories than you consume. Well how the hell do you that?
Turns out, the Internet is full of resources to help you calculate how many calories you need to consume/burn to maintain/lose weight. I use Livestrong’s, but I got to thinking, not everybody that’s trying to lose weight is using the same calculator, so how would I stack up across a bunch of them? I set out using the following stats.
Weight: 147 (as of this morning)
Activity: Sedentary (not because I don’t exercise but because it’s really hard to measure calories burned during exercise like soccer and this makes it easier to calculate across the spectrum of sites)
Goal: See what I would weigh if I ate 2,000 calories a day (because all the nutrition labels are designed for someone on a 2,000 calorie a day diet) and see how many calories I need to lose 1lb a week.
Here’s what I found.
2,000 calories a day would help me maintain a weight of 159lbs. On my frame, according to the NIH, my BMI would be 28.2, which is to the high end of overweight. To lose 1lb a week, I have to consume 1,413 calories a day.
2,000 a day would help me maintain a weight of 177lbs! On my frame, that would be obese. To lose 1lb a week, I have to consume 1,340 calories a day.
2,000 a day would help me maintain a weight of 210lbs!! OMG, that is insane. They don’t have a calculator to help you lose weight, but according to them, the weight I would maintain at 2,000 calories a day is 50lbs more than Livestrong’s.
Freedieting.com (I chose this because it’s the first hit that comes up in Google for “calorie calculator”)
2,000 a day would help me maintain a weight of 177lbs. For “fat loss” (which is about 1-2lbs a week) I’d need 1,472 calories a day and for “extreme fat loss” I’d need 1,176 calories a day.
Okay, this is mind boggling. According to this site, 2,000 calories a day would help me maintain a weight of, get this folks, 103lbs. That’s right, 103lbs. They don’t even help you calculate calories need to lose weight, but I am a little skeptical of this site because it’s so far off what the others suggested.
So in sum, what have we learned? The caloric goals for weight loss were all fairly similar ranging from 1,340 to 1,472. Men’s Health once had a simple formula for calculating calories and that was to take your ideal weight, say 140, and add a 0, making it 1400. Using that formula, the only one that came close was the Mayoclinic. But the calculators got really weird when I used that 2,000 calorie a day base, which then makes you wonder about the other calculations. Going by my little exercise here, if you were aiming for 2,000 calories a day you could end up weighing 100 lbs more or less, depending on what site you used. *Funny story, I initially typed “sued” instead of “used” right there and it’s probably only a matter of time until someone DOES sue one of these sites. This post probably helped you in no way whatsoever and you were probably better off just trusting whatever site you were using before you read this. So forget about all the discrepancies, eat well and exercise to your heart’s content. That’s what being healthy is all about anyway. It’s not numbers, it’s the experience.