Recently I’ve suffered a small loss in weight and this made me re-direct my focus to my daily calories intake.
Normally I am very thorough in respect to the calories that go in my body on a daily basis and I have been using an app to track down and count my daily intake for almost two years now. However, in the past few weeks, due to the craziness that was going on at work, plus my busy schedule and the longer runs that I’ve been puttin up lately, I’ve gotten a bit behind and I immediately saw the effect. Now I have to work even harder and get back on track and reach my ideal weight where I can have the best running performance.
So how many calories do you need on a daily basis?
I for one use a combination of maths, technology and intuition to come up with an estimate, which I will share below, but what you need to understand is that this can never be 100% accurate. It depends on a multitude of variables and it differs from one person to another. But I will do my best to share everything I know about this from my own experience and from as many scientifically proven facts as possible.
- The math:
You can use the Mifflin St. Jeor Equation to get an estimate of how many calories your body will consume just to meet its basic needs and to function properly throughout the day. The equation differs from men to women and is as follows:
For men: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5
For women: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161
It is important to know this figure because 70% of the daily energy intake is spent on the body’s basic needs. Thus we want to know how much energy our body requires in order to function properly, otherwise we won’t be able to exercise properly, or even perform our most basic daily activities if we are poorly nourished.
- The technology:
I personally use a Garmin smartwatch + an app called „MyFitnessPal” (which can be found for free on the App Store/Google Play, etc.).
The watch monitors my daily activities and provides an estimate of the total number of calories that I’ve spent in that day (among other things). Again, I call it an estimate because it can never be 100% accurate. And I use the app to count everything I ate within that day. This gives me the total number of calories which I added in my body throughout the day.
Using the app is a bit time-consuming, because you need to add everything manually, which can take a time, especially if you eat a lot or if you eat a lot of things. But I usually do it in one or two increments, one in the middle of the day and one at night. What I like about the app si that you can set goals for yourself, for example you want to gain two kilos, and it will calculate how many calories you need to take in every day in order to gain the extra weight. Another cool thing is that if you pair it with your watch, it will automatically download the calories spent through exercise and will re-calculate the total required for that specific day.
Why is this important? Well, because if you have a proper intake of calories and your body will generate enough energy, you will be able to run or exercise properly, but apart from this, you will have more energy throughout the day and you will also recover and rest better.
From my own experience I can tell you that when I didn’t eat enough, even though I was able to put in those miles and do my daily workouts, I was feeling exhausted afterwards and even after a recovery nap I was still feeling weak and with low-energy.
One of the great things with running and sports in general is that you get to know your body very well. Probably because you spend so much time with yourself, especially while running, and because you invest so much in it, you get to learn a lot about the human body.
I got to know my body pretty well along the years and I’ve learned to listen to its needs and rely on this sort of inner intuition. It helps me in knowing when I can run more or faster, when I need to stop, when I can push harder, when I become dehydrated, when I need food, when I need to rest, etc. And I highly recommend this. It may take a few years of practice until you get to really know your body, but it’ll be extraordinary when you reach that point. And this will count more than all the equations, apps and gadgets if you get to master it.
What did we learn?
So, in conclusion, you need to figure out how much energy you spend every day, you need to figure out a way to replace that, then you need to eat a lot, but not too much, pay attention to what you eat, give your body time to rest after your run, learn to listen to your body, download a few apps, invest in a few good gadgets…easy peasy, huh? 🙂
P.S. In the end, please enjoy this very educative TED lesson about calories: