Calorie Karma

by J. Zimmerman.

In deep December, there's enough to do without worrying about your waistline. But egg nog and roasted chestnuts call seductively. What is to be done?

Honey, I have help for your hips, in the shape of Calorie Karma. Here's how it works.

When your friends and sweethearts are couch-potatoes, they burn calories almost as slowly as if asleep. Apparently they don't want their exercise calories. So, you can use them!

Simply get them to walk with you for a few minutes - 10 out, 10 back. Stroll along West Cliff at sunset. Or just head out from home for a few blocks in the evening, to see the illuminated reindeer.

As this exercise is your idea, the Law of Calorie Karma says that you benefit from the calories everyone spends.

If possible, pick chubby companions. A 100-pound person burns only 52 calories on a moderate-pace 20-minute walk. A 200-pound person burns twice that. And so on.

With not too much cajoling, you can set in motion 1,000 pounds! For a 20 minute walk, that's 520 calories.

But be alert. Tomorrow, you may be the cajolee. Then Calorie Karma requires that you walk again, to donate your exercise calories to someone else.

I met a couple of Sumo wrestlers recently, and we'll go for a brief stroll later. Meanwhile, I'll commune with this triple-decadence Chocolate Cherry Cake with two scoops of vanilla ice-cream.

Formula for the calories you burn
(From our More-Than-You-Want-To-Know Department)

[Adapted from Suzanne Schlosberg (September 2004 Shape, p. 212).]

First you need to calculate your basal (or resting) metabolism rate (BMR or RMR), the calories that your body burns for your basic breathing and blood pumping and other activities.

One formula for BMR is the Harris-Benedict:

For women the daily calories burned averages:
655 + (4.3 * weight in pounds) + (4.7 * height in inches) - (4.7 * age in years)
e.g., approximately 1420 calories, for a 145 pound, 5-foot-5 35-year old.

Schlosberg quotes another formula with simpler mathematics from Jackie Berning (associate professor of nutrition at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs):

We need your weight in kilograms. If it's in pounds (e.g. 145 pounds), divide by 2.2. e.g. 65.9 kilograms.
What's your average hourly calorie burn? Multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.9. e.g. average calorie burn is 59.3 calories/hour.
What does this mean for your BMR? Simply multiply by the 24 hours of the day. e.g. BMR is 1423 calories.

Decide what is your activity level, and for it you add a certain percent of your BMR:

For a sedentary life, add 10 to 20%, say 15%, which increases 1423 by 213. e.g. 1636 calories.
For light activity (e.g. sedentary but a daily 30 minute walk), add 50%, which increases 1423 by 712. e.g. 2135 calories.
For an active life, where you are on your feet much of the day, and you do a vigorous daily workout of at least 30 minutes, add 70%. e.g. 2419 calories.
For a very active life, where you are walking or moving continuously, and you have a daily vigorous workout of 60 minutes, add 80%. e.g. 2561 calories.

See also:

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