Caloric Requirements for the Bedridden

When you're stuck in bed, calories may be the furthest thing from your mind. But it's important that you consider your daily needs when bedridden to help prevent weight gain or, in some cases, undesirable weight loss. Eating the right number of calories each day is not only important for weight management, but also for good health. Consult with your doctor before making any changes to your current diet.

A Little About Calories

Your daily calorie needs vary and depend on your age, gender, activity level and resting energy expenditure, or REE. The REE is the amount of energy required to maintain your normal body processes, including breathing, digestion and circulation, and maintenance and repair of your cells and body tissue. The REE accounts for most of your daily calorie needs. So, even though you are inactive, you still have to eat a certain number of calories for your body to work properly.

Estimating Your Needs

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To estimate your calorie needs when you are bedridden, you must first estimate your REE. The REE for men is weight in pounds multiplied by 11, and for women weight in pounds multiplied by 10. Then, multiply your REE by a factor of 1.3 to determine your daily calorie needs when you are bedridden. For example, a bedridden male weighing 150 pounds needs 2,145 calories a day to maintain his weight. That is calculated as: 150 x 11 x 1.3 = 2,145.

Factors That Alter Calorie Needs

While a mathematical formula can help you determine your basic calorie needs, you may need to make adjustments. Monitoring your weight weekly is an easy way to help you determine if you need more or fewer calories. Additionally, if you are bedridden, you are at risk of developing bedsores and may need to increase your calorie intake and consume enough protein. Your doctor or dietitian can help you determine your daily calorie needs.

What to Eat

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As a bedridden individual, you do not need to eat as many calories as you did when you were able to get up and about, which means it is even more important that you make the right food choices so your body gets the nutrients it needs for good health. A healthy diet for the bedridden should include a variety of foods from all the food groups including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy foods. Your limited mobility increases your risk of constipation, so include plenty of foods high in fiber such as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.