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I am a Computer professional. My job involves sitting on a pc for the whole day without much physical work.

I am 32, male.

I would like to know what is the amount of calories I should consume daily via food and how much should I "spend" via physical exercise to keep my fit and healthy.

Please let me know.

Thanks!

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@meetpd-what physical activity do you do? And do you have any fitness goals? E.g, lose weight, gain muscle etc. –  Bee Jun 30 '12 at 10:45
    
@BEE, my fitness goal is to stay fit without gaining any weight. –  meetpd Jul 2 '12 at 5:36
    
Recent research shows that you can not really increase your calorie expenditure because your metabolism will slow down or speed to keep it the same: plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0040503 and researchgate.net/publication/… . –  michael Jul 26 '12 at 18:23
    
That's not what the plosone article states. It states that total daily energy expenditure is similar between the groups studied (hunter/gatherer, farmer and Western) and that it is the difference in energy intake that makes Westerners obese, not a metabolic increase/decrease. –  JohnP Jul 30 '12 at 15:06
    
@JohnP Of course, there is some room for interpretation, but the upshot was that caloric expenditure was pretty static, independent of physical activity. When physical activity increased, resting metabolic rate was lower. –  michael Jul 30 '12 at 19:26

6 Answers 6

How much should you intake?

About as much as you spend, adjusted slightly up or down if you want weight gain or weight loss.

How much should you spend?

Don't let a calorie expenditure target dictate your activity level. Instead, determine your areas for improvement (health-wise), and let those dictate your activity level.

Summary

  1. Determine your fitness weaknesses or areas for improvement
  2. Choose a program to address those (strength training is a good first program for almost anybody with almost any fitness goal)
  3. Feed yourself to fuel that activity
  4. Fine-tune your diet to make gradual weight decrease or increase
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On this site http://www.freedieting.com/ you will find a calculator called daily caloric needs, it will ask you to input your height, weight, gender, age, activity level and what your goal is. your goal can either be to gain weight, lose or maintain, and accordingly it will calculate how many calories you need in order to achieve said goal.

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That's going to be highly dependent on quite a few different factors, and the sites that have calculators are going to vary quite a bit depending on what algorithm they use on the back end.

As far as "fit and healthy", that can be as little as 30 mins of exercise (Such as moderate walking, cycling, swimming, etc.) 3-5x per week, or more if you intend on competing in any kind of athletic event.

It might be a bit more helpful if you gave us some basic statistics (ht, wt, etc) and what your goals are (i.e. lose 30 lbs, etc.)

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There are a lot of issues with calories. First of all, you can have 2 people who weigh exactly the same, and are of the same age and sex, and they can both eat the exact same meals in a day. One will lose fat, one will gain fat. Everyone knows someone who can eat whatever s/he likes and not gain an ounce. Then, we also know other people who can just look at food and gain weight.

So calories aren't reliable and aren't a good way to go.

Furthermore, body fat and muscle is seriously controlled by hormones. I have a video on my YouTube channel that explains it well. First focus on hormonal optimization, digestive optimization, etc.

Unless you're a competitive bodybuilder or figure competitor, I wouldn't worry too much about calories.

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That video says you can target fat loss to particular areas of your body. Most people believe this is false. Do you have a reference for that claim? –  user3085 Jul 30 '12 at 22:02
    
-1 for referencing your own video. –  JohnP Jul 30 '12 at 22:17
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@JohnP, not going to argue against your downvote, but I'm not against referencing one's own video, if it's correct and addresses the question pretty directly. –  user3085 Jul 30 '12 at 22:42
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BTW, I find it somewhat amusing that this answer is probably more in line with current research than any other answer I have seen on this site, and it was provided by an expert, but it quickly received 2 downvotes. All people coming to this site for good information, be warned, this is what you will find. –  michael Jul 31 '12 at 1:59
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@Sancho fitness.stackexchange.com/faq#promotion - As I understand it, since there was no disclosure, and it was referenced as "this" video rather than "my" video, I thought it fell under the spam/self promotion rule. If I was wrong, mea culpa –  JohnP Jul 31 '12 at 2:05

You shouldn't be worrying about calories at all, they're not reliable in any fashion.

People gain weight on calorie deficits, and lose weight on calorie surpluses.

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-1. This doesn't answer the question asked, and what's more it makes bold statements with no cited scientific evidence. Are you suggesting that someone eating in excess of 4k calories a day would be no better off than someone eating only 2k calories a day, all things being equal? –  Moses Oct 10 '12 at 23:49
    
There's no scientific evidence that supports the calorie hypothesis either. All you have is scientists making assumptions to try to fit the data to the hypothesis. –  Robin Ashe Oct 11 '12 at 0:05
    
@Moses all things aren't equal. Different people are different. You could have someone eating 4k calories per day steadily losing weight and another person gaining weight on 2k calories per day, both with the same exercise program. –  Robin Ashe Oct 11 '12 at 0:05
    
That is comparing apples to oranges. The correct comparison is, for any one particular individual, whether they would be better off eating X, or X+Y. If my daily caloric expenditure was 1800, I would aim for 1800 in calories consumed per day. What you are saying is if I were to instead consume 3800 calories, that there would be no impact whatsoever to my weight, and that I may even lose weight? –  Moses Oct 11 '12 at 1:07
    
@Moses no, that is not the correct comparison. the correct comparison is to understand that two different people are two different people and that on the same diet they will react differently –  Robin Ashe Oct 11 '12 at 3:34

I lost 1.5 pounds a month for two years (because of my age, I was afraid my skin would sag and I'd lose muscle if I was more aggressive). It was easy. WebMD, Mayo Clinic's site, etc all have calculators that walk you through the process. My advice is that given a choice like 'somewhat active' and 'disgusting sedentary slug' always choose the most demeaning option. The best way, however, is the food diary. Weigh yourself right after your first pee in the morning every day and only eat foods with a posted calorie count (like a bag of pretzels or a frozen pizza) and record what you ate, when, and the calorie count. Do that for a week or two. It's not hard. A one pound gain or loss is 3500 calories. You may find that documenting your food caused you to eat better stuff and eat less often. To run my test I developed standard sandwiches and salads - nothing fancy. To my surprise, I never tired of them and found I just ate when I was hungry. I still keep my diary but now it's used to keep my weight up as I train.

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-1 for suggesting that pretzels and frozen pizza is the way to eat. I wish I could give another -1 for saying 3500kcal= 1lbs –  michael Jul 30 '12 at 12:42
    
@michael If you eat it, you list it. That's why it's called a food diary and it is one of the most effective methods known to determine what's going on with weight gain/loss. Most people who do it are surprised at how much (or how little) they eat. Without this knowledge, they make good plans based on false assumptions and failure is extremely demotivating. I stand by my results. If you haven't lost 50 pounds of fat while gaining muscle at 62, you should give me my points back. BTW I sometimes eat pretzels or pizza on cheat days but that's a different topic. –  medmal Jul 30 '12 at 19:32
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I'm not picking on the food diary idea. "Only eat foods with a posted calorie count(like a bag of pretzels or a frozen pizza)". I find this to be bad advice, as it suggests that processed food is the thing you should eat. It is also not true that 3500kcal= 1lbs, as many studies will attest to. It seems to take 7500-10,000 calories deficit to lose one pound because the human body is not a closed system bomb calorimeter. –  michael Jul 30 '12 at 20:24
    
@michael Ah! now I see where you got the "i recommend pretzels" idea. My bad. I ate plenty of those when I worked as a programmer. I also gained lots of weight as a programmer. If your numbers are true I can see why so many fail to lose weight. A 500 cal deficit might only buy you a pound and a half a month. A typical scale might not register that consistently. I used the commonly given 3500 and assumed my training regimen would keep me out of famine response but not contribute much to calorie consumption. You're right about the bomb calorimeter. Why does it seem to work,though? Any ideas? –  medmal Jul 31 '12 at 5:19

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