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http://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html

That calculator requires to know my level of activeness. I take a brisk walk of 10 minutes daily.

Personal info:

  • My height is 162.6 cm, age is 34, gender is female, and weight is 52 kg.
  • I have a job that requires 8 hours sitting on a chair in front of a computer.
  • My aim is to _gain weight.
  • My metabolism is fast and I have low appetite.
  • I have started brisk walk to improve my appetite.

Where do I fit? How to determine what qualifies for light activeness, moderate activeness, and extreme activeness?

3 Answers 3

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You cannot expect a formula to be exactly right for you. The only way you will know what you need to eat (in terms of calories) to ensure that you can gain/maintain/lose weight is through experimenting yourself.

Use Sedentry as a guide and then if you aren't losing weight, reduce calories and vice-versa.

Problem with categorising exercise as absolute is thus:

A comfortable 10k run for me uses around 1000 calories. I would class this is light/moderate activity, even though it is for 1 hour constantly.

A crossfit class is 15-30 minutes of very high intensity but only burns around 400 calories. I would put that as hard/very hard exercise.

I do crossfit 5 times a week and run 3-4 times. My daily calorie intake to maintain is around 2300 but that calculator suggests I should be eating 2800. I know that 2300 is right through experimenting aver the last year.

To gain weight, you must eat more calories than you use. Increased exercise does help increase appetite for some people (as does other things like reducing caffeine intake) but you just need to take in more calories overall. For people with a low appetite, eating more is hard.

You are sedentary by the tool you linked, a walk doesn't really 'count' as exercise like the tool suggests. The difference in metabolism from the norm you have suggested isn't really a truth. Just eat 1 pop-tart to compensate.

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How is your time spent outside of the walks? Do you have a job sitting at a desk? Standing up? Moving about? This will all influence the end result.

Usually, on those calculators, I tend to just fill in "sedentary". The problem with choosing an activity level is that it is a big guess on the calculator's part. They define "lightly active" as exercise or sports 1 to 3 times a week. I go to the gym 3 times a week, but spend about 1.5 to 2 hours there every time on strength training. It's not exactly light. However, if I would spend that time doing cardio, I'd be burning a lot more calories. Meanwhile, someone who's got a physically demanding job and doesn't do any exercise outside of that will use a lot more calories than me on a daily basis.

A better approach is to try a number of calculators online, using the sedentary activity level every time, and take the average of their estimates. This will give you an indication of your total daily energy expenditure without exercise. It's only an estimate since the actual value depends on a lot more than the factors provided to such calculators. People of the same gender, height and weight will have varying metabolic rates due to genetic differences, body composition and lifestyle.

After you have the estimate, a good approach to get a more accurate number is to track your calorie intake using one of the various tools available online (MyFitnessPal is a popular choice), eat exactly the estimate and monitor your weight. The best method is to weigh yourself every morning, either before or after going to the toilet but before eating or drinking anything, and then take a weekly average of the measurements. This will reduce the impact of normal daily fluctuations. If the weight increases over a few weeks, the calorie estimate was a bit on the high side. If it decreases, you're in a caloric deficit. If it stays about the same, you've found the correct number to start from.

The number is going to change over time depending on weight loss or weight gain and activity.

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  • see the edit, please. Jan 13, 2017 at 9:22
  • @AquariusTheGirl As noted in this and the other answers, it would make the most sense to choose the "sedentary" option.
    – G_H
    Jan 13, 2017 at 9:30
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I would not trust the calculator you referenced in the question. It merely does an average calories count and has little to do with your fitness level.

The notions of calories in calories out relative to weight loss or gain is very simplistic and had been proven wrong already. See the well referenced Harvard Study in 2011 and other studies here: Studies on Calorie Count Myths

To objectively determine how fit you are, there are very good measures that you can use. The best one is a VO2 Max test. Read more on it here: Wikipedia Article on VO2 max

Many universities have physiology or human performance labs, and they often offer these tests for the public at very reasonable to no cost. Do a search on V02 Max lab/university & you will find plenty, all over the world. Besides VO2 tests, the labs normally can run a series of other excellent and highly accurate tests from metabolic rate to blood levels that you should definitely try if you are serious about fitness. These would give you a very clear picture of where you are, and then come back in 6 months or a year to see how you progress.

Short of that, any modern fitness machine such as a treadmill or an elliptical machine that has a heart rate sensor should also be able to give you a reasonably useful fitness test that you can do in about 10-15 minutes. What these tests usually entail are your levels of effort against the resistance changes of the machine, calculated against your change in heart rate through the process along with your basic age, weight inputs.

Wearable fitness bands with optical heart rate sensors costing no more than USD $50 nowadays can also give you some very good profile of your fitness and can be used for long term fitness tracking (I use one for training and overall fitness & sleep tracking).

Back to the specifics of your question, you mentioned wanting to gain weight and that you have to sit in front of the computer for 8 hours. I suppose you want to gain muscles, and not fat since fat gain is as easy as doing less and eating more bad-for-you food.

Gaining muscle mass, on a functional strength level (meaning looking solidly good and feeling agile but not wanting to be a huge competitive weight lifter body) involve building up resistant (weight or body-weight) exercises to challenge your body to "grow." This would require that you either choose an assisted weight regiment or a body-weight regiment that force muscle tear, metabolic challenge at a level much more intense but shorter per round than your brisk walk (which is basal aerobic in nature). In this answer, it may be too much to go into details. However, know that you'd need resistance training for weight gain, and that you can use weights or your body weight, but they have to be proper and good movements with sufficient challenge to your body to induce growth. Proper nutrition, hydration, sleep, work-rest ratio, also come into play. I hope these ideas give you a good pointer to start looking further.

As for prolonged sitting, it's bad and irreversible. You can read this article below for a summary of recent research, but more has been known since as well. When you sit for a long period, your hormones begin to change, and adding it up through the years will take an irreversible toll on your well being. Not only that, staying in doors and looking at the computer all day also takes a toll on your brain, eyes (also part of your brain), and creativity, not to mention mood. I used to work the same way, then changed. My life changed like it dialed back the clock over 10 years. Article:Is Sitting a Lethal Activity

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  • Some helpful information for you, in terms of "A calorie is a calorie" many of the articles that support this idea have been debunked. Especially the idea that protein digestion uses more energy as food labels are adjusted to account for this: naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/CAT40000007
    – John
    Jan 16, 2017 at 10:06

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