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Calorie Level to Reach a Healthy Weight?

By January 24, 2013

I am a 30-year-old female. I have struggled with an eating disorder and am starting to find freedom. I need some assistance understanding my daily caloric needs. I am hitting about 1500-1600 calories a day. I walk 2 miles everyday (30 minutes). I am 5’4″ and weigh ** pounds. Can you help me understand what I need to be consuming to reach a healthy weight? Thank you. – Sarah

Sarah,

There is a very simple formula that we use when helping people with re-nourishment. That formula is taking your weight in kilograms times 30. That gives you your resting caloric needs (the calories needed just for your organs to function). Then you multiply that by 30% (times 0.3) for moving and small amounts of physical activity to reach your maintenance needs. There is also a more complicated formula. I used both for you and came up with 1,595 calories for maintenance both ways.

To help you re-nourish your body, you need to add at least 500 calories a day. How you add the calories doesn’t really matter. The goal is to increase the calories with a combination of carbohydrates, protein and fats. If you can see a registered dietitian for help with this, I would strongly encourage you to do so.  She can give you the individualized guidance you need (that I cannot provide without a full assessment). Especially with a history of an eating disorder, you could easily become obsessed with counting calories. Please see “Finding a Nutritionist” for more information.

I hope this is helpful.

Eileen Stellefson Myers, MPH, RD, LDN, FADA