How Calories Work

Your Caloric Needs

As you now know, there are three main factors involved in calculating how many calories your body needs per day: your BMR, physical activity and the thermic effect of food.

The second factor in the equation, physical activity, consumes the next highest number of calories. Physical activity includes everything from making your bed to jogging. Walking, lifting, bending, and just generally moving around burns calories, but the number of calories you burn in any given activity depends on your body weight. Click here for a great table listing the calories expended in various physical activities and for various weights.

The thermic effect of food is the final addition to the number of calories your body burns. This is the amount of energy your body uses to digest the food you eat -- it takes energy to break food down to its basic elements in order to be used by the body. To calculate the number of calories you expend in this process, multiply the total number of calories you eat in a day by 0.10, or 10 percent. If you need some help determining how many calories you eat in a day, check out these sites:

The total number of calories a body needs in a day is the sum of these three calculations. If you only want a rough estimate of your daily caloric needs, you can skip the calculations and click here.