Even if all you do today is sit on the couch, your body is still using calories—how many is determined by your resting metabolic rate (RMR). Whether your RMR burns high or low ‘depends on your age, body composition and gender,’ says Jeffrey A. Potteiger, Ph.D., professor of movement science at Grand Valley State University. Young people burn more than old people do, men more than women, lean folks more than flabby.

RMR x activity level = calories you can eat per day without putting on pounds

You can discover your RMR with a little easy math. First, convert your weight into kilograms (divide pounds by 2.2) and your height into centimeters (multiply inches by 2.54).

(10 x weight) + (6.25 x height) – (5 x age) – 161 = calories burned at rest

Here’s what it would look like for a 30-year-old woman who is 5 foot 4 and weighs 130 pounds: (10 x 59) + (6.25 x 163) – (5 x 30) – 161 = an RMR of 1,298 calories

Next, multiply your RMR by the following number that best represents your activity level. That’s it! Now you know the number of calories you need to consume per day to maintain your weight.

  • 1.2 for sedentary (barely any or no exercise)
  • 1.375 for lightly active (easy exercise one to three days a week)
  • 1.550 for moderately active (moderate exercise three to five days a week)
  • 1.725 for very active (hard exercise six or seven days a week)
  • 1.9 for extremely active (very hard exercise and possibly a physical job)

Author: Amy Ivins