Sunday, February 14, 2010

Counting calories

It amazes me sometimes how much learning I have to do when it comes to staying fit and healthy. I have been ravenous lately which has led to constant snacking between meals. It finally occurred to me that I have been very active since the new year and haven't accounted for that with my meal sizes. Some rough estimates from the internet tell me that:
  • A lightly active person of my age, sex and stature (28 years, female, 5'2", 110 pounds) needs 1650 calories a day to maintain a constant weight.
  • A moderately active person of my stature needs 1900 calories a day to a maintain constant weight.
  • A very active person of my stature needs 2150 calories a day to maintain a constant weight.
That's roughly an increase of 200 calories in intake per 30 minutes of exercise. That coincides nicely with my Nike+ run history, which shows that I burn between 300 and 500 calories per run.

I was curious how this matched with my calorie intake so I decided to calculate how many calories I eat in a normal day. During the week, I eat:
  • 300-400 calories for breakfast (cereal)
  • 500-600 calories for lunch (pasta)
  • 600-800 calories for dinner (a burrito)
  • 75 calories for an occasional dessert (half an ice cream sandwich)
which gives me a total of 1475-1875 calories a day. Some very simple math explains why I'm suddenly hungry all the time. Let's see if increasing the size of my lunch and dinner fixes the snacking problem.


  1. back in summer of 2008 when I was at my peak of training for CLT I was hungry ALL THE TIME. But man, counting calories is hard.

  2. What's wrong with snacking? I do much better with 5 small meals a day than 2 or 3 big ones.

    Also, did you happen to see the Dear Uncle Ezra question from a 20-year-old training for a marathon and asking about nutrition? It's at

  3. Ben, I did see that post. It's a little uncanny how close to home it hits, in particular this part: "I am a vegetarian, and often find it hard to both eat healthy and consume enough calories." My diet is rich is veggies and protein, but that's not what my body wants right now: it wants fat and carbs.

    Snacking works for people with self control, but for me, it's always led to overeating. I do really well with three square meals, but I just need to make sure that I put enough calories into them to carry me through the day.