By Stephenie Karony

Thursday, June 21, 2001

Maintaining weight
by the numbers

Question: Is there an easy way to determine a person's daily calorie needs?

Answer: Because of the numerous variations in body types, muscularity, genetics and lifestyle, the perfect method doesn't exist. Even so, I've put together a guide, with the help of The Food and Nutrition Board, which shows the approximate number of calories an individual needs to maintain their current body weight.

>> Very sedentary: This describes people whose movement is restricted, such as individuals confined to a house. They should eat 13 calories per pound of body weight. Example: if the individual weighs 130 pounds, 130 x 13=1,690 calories per day.

>> Sedentary: This describes most Americans, such as those with office jobs who do very light work. They should eat 14 calories per pound of body weight. 130 x 14=1,820 calories per day.

>> Moderate activity: This describes those who exercise two, maybe three times per week. They should eat 15 calories per pound of body weight. 130 x 15=1,950 calories per day.

>> Very active: People who exercise most days of the week should eat 16 calories per pound of body weight. 130 x 16=2,080 calories per day.

>> Daily Vigorous activity: This category is for those who participate daily in a high energy sport. They should eat 17+ calories per pound of body weight. 130 x 17=2,210+ calories per day.

These are approximate numbers applicable to maintaining current body weight, not for losing weight. If your goal is to lose weight you'll need to eat fewer daily calories and exercise more. Be careful not to cut too many calories from your daily intake, or your metabolism will slow down to compensate for the drastic reduction.

One last thought -- always try to get the majority of your daily calories from foods that contain the most nutrients.

Q: I have chronic fatigue syndrome. My sister told me if I exercised I would feel better, but I'm not able to because of the chronic fatigue I experience. Do you have any suggestions?

A: There's an uncertain relationship between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and exercise. As the name suggests, one who suffers from this disorder lives with a great deal of fatigue. To make matters worse, people who suffer from CFS say that too much exercise makes their symptoms worse.

On the other, hand if they don't exercise they become susceptible to the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle.

There is some evidence that individuals who suffer from CFS benefit from low intensity, short duration bouts of exercise. Individuals who participated in a CFS study reported they didn't experience the symptoms usually associated with longer periods of harder exercise.

Light intensity walking, swimming or cycling are the most effective at increasing energy while decreasing the negative symptoms. Several short bouts, say 10 minutes each, spread throughout the day, are not as likely to exacerbate symptoms as are fewer exercise sessions lasting a longer duration.

Individualized exercise prescriptions are more appropriate than general exercise guidelines, because each individual's response varies. Find a personal fitness trainer who has experience working with people who have this or a similar disorder.

Stephenie Karony is a certified health and fitness instructor,
a personal trainer and author of "Body Shaping With Free Weights.''
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