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How to do the math when it comes to losing weight

October 01, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

To lose weight, it's important to know your ideal body weight and how many calories you should be consuming daily, said Dr. Mary E. Money, a Hagerstown doctor of internal medicine.

Daily caloric intake

To determine the approximate total calories a person should consume daily to maintain their weight without exercise, multiply the person's weight by 10. If the person has a tendency to lose weight, add 10 percent of that amount, or if the person has a tendency to gain weight, subtract 10 percent to 15 percent.

So a 175-pound person with average metabolism should have a daily caloric intake of about 1,750 calories to maintain his or her weight without exercise. That decreases to 1,487 to 1,575 calories if the person tends to gain weight.

But exercise is still an important element, especially for people who have slow metabolism and tend to gain weight, Money said. Then exercise is almost 10 times more important than the diet to lose weight.

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Ideal weight

People with an average frame can determine their ideal weight by first knowing their height.

Start with 20 pounds per foot for the first 5 feet of your height, Money said. Then add 5 pounds per inch for women or 6 pounds per inch for men for your remaining height.

So the ideal weight for a 5-foot-10 man would be 160 pounds and for a woman would be 150 pounds.

If overweight, subtract your ideal weight from your actual weight to determine your weight-loss goal.

A person with a petite or large frame, can instead check what their body-mass index should be, Money said. For women, the normal BMI can range from 18.5 to 24, whereas for men it can be 20 to 25, she said.

To learn more about obesity and BMI and to calculate your BMI, go to this National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Web site, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/obe/obe_diagnosis.html.

Reaching ideal weight

To lose a pound a week, you must create a deficit of 3,500 calories per week through diet and exercise, Money said.

For every minute of exercise such as walking, raking or mowing with a push mower, the typical person burns about five calories, Money said. For every minute of more intense activity such as jogging, that person burns eight to 10 calories or more.

So walking an hour a day burns about 300 calories.

Depending on a person's weight and metabolism, the person might need to adjust diet and exercise to lose the same amount of weight as someone with average metabolism.

A person who is fit and thin would need to work harder to burn calories, said Angela Kershner, wellness specialist with the Washington County Health Department. A person who is severely overweight would require more effort to move, therefore burning more calories through exercise than an average person.

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