How to Find Your Daily Calorie Target

The Mifflin Equation offers an accurate way to find your daily calorie needs.

We know that most Americans are eating too many calories and not moving enough to burn them off. But how do you find out the number of calories you personally need to consume for weight loss? You start by determining how many calories your body will burn on its own just to maintain its essential body functions. This base­line calorie expenditure is known as the resting metabolic rate (RMR, sometimes referred to as resting energy expenditure, or REE), and it is the number of calories the body would burn if it were at rest for 24 hours. In other words, your RMR is the amount of calories you need to con­sume on a daily basis in order to maintain your weight if you are currently leading a sedentary lifestyle. There are countless equations that calculate your RMR, but in the fitness industry the Mifflin equation remains the gold standard.

Once you have completed the Miff­lin equation, take the resulting number and multiply it by your level of activity in order to determine the true number of calories you burn on a daily basis. For the purposes of this program, your activ­ity factor should reflect the specific car­dio exercise program you plan to follow. For example, if you are not feeling very fit entering into the program, you might want to predominantly focus on the Level 1 cardio routines, so you would use an activity factor of 1.375. If you have a decent fitness base and want to take on a bigger challenge, the Level 2 or Level 3 program will be a better fit, so use the cor­responding activity factor.

If your routine will include additional bouts of exercise beyond the workouts in this book, you can err toward a higher activ­ity factor. However, it’s always safest to start with a lower activity factor and then add cal­ories back in if necessary. Most of us drasti­cally underestimate how many calories we are consuming, and we also tend to overesti­mate the number of calories we are burning.

Once you’ve multiplied your RMR by your activity factor, you will know exactly how many calories you would need to con­sume each day in order to maintain your cur­rent weight. To shed a few pounds (maybe more than a few) and firm up that midsec­tion, you must make sure your actual caloric consumption is lower than this number.

Calculate your RMR by using my online Mifflin Equation Calculator here: www.allisonwestfahl.com/core-envy/.

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