What Should My Daily Intake Of Calories Be?
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Kaelin Tuell Poulin ‧ Former IFBB Pro athlete and Co-founder of LadyBoss Weight Loss
People often think of weight loss and calories as this mysterious, impossible thing. And, while weight loss (and willpower!) can be difficult, it’s actually not that much of a mystery.
Even though there are tons of diet plans out there, most of them touting “miracle results,” the truth is and always has been that weight loss is as simple as a mathematical problem. If we consistently take in more energy than we need, we will gain weight. If we take in too little energy, we will lose weight, fat, and eventually muscle mass.
Let’s Break It Down
Your body needs a certain number of calories to survive and to do all the things you do on a regular basis - like walking, blinking, and talking.
That number - the number of calories your body needs just to, well... live - is referred to as your basal metabolic rate or BMR. This is the number of calories you’d burn, even if you didn’t move a muscle all day long.
If you eat above your BMR amount in a day, without burning the calories off through exercise, you can gain weight. If you eat below it, then you can’t help but gain weight. Plain and simple.
FACT: If you eat above your BMR amount in a day, without burning the calories off through exercise, you can gain weight. If you eat below it, then you can’t help but gain weight.
But How Much Should I Eat?
The short and simple answer is that, to lose weight, you need to eat below your BMR amount each day, or eat above it and burn off the excess if you want to lose weight.
However, a lot of factors are at play in the weight loss game. Factors such as your age, current weight, gender, and weight loss goals all determine how much you should eat per day. Fortunately, you can figure out a good number for you by using an online weight loss calculator.
What To Do Next
Once you’ve figured out how many calories it will take for your specific body to lose weight, your next step is to eat the right amount of calories.
While it is true that you could eat all of your weight loss calories in doughnuts or potato chips and still lose weight, that’s not very healthy for your body. Plus, junk foods do not make you feel full for long.
In order to be both satiated and healthy, you want your calories to come from good, filling sources, such as lean meats, lots of vegetables, and fruits. You can create a healthy meal plan on your own, or you could consult a nutritionist to help you design a meal plan that fits within your caloric needs and weight loss goals.
TIP: In order to be both satiated and healthy, you want your calories to come from good, filling sources, such as lean meats, lots of vegetables, and fruits.
Don’t Forget To Exercise!
Finally, never underestimate the importance of exercise! You can subtract calories burned through an exercise from your daily caloric intake, allowing you to eat more or to lose more quickly.
You can join a gym or get a trainer, but also remember that all kinds of activities, from cleaning your house to dancing with your child, burn calories and count as exercise. Use a helpful exercise calculator to help you determine how many calories you burn from specific exercises.
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The Bottom Line
Recommended calorie intake depends on factors such as age, size, height, sex, lifestyle, and overall general health. If you can just do your math right when it comes to calories in versus calories out, weight loss should be a breeze!
So, no matter what your health and fitness goals are, being mindful about the food you choose - and listening to your body's satiety cues - might be the best option overall.
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FAQ About Calories
In order to answer this question, it helps to define a calorie. A calorie is a unit that is used to measure energy. The Calorie you see on a food package is actually a kilocalorie, or 1,000 calories. A Calorie (kcal) is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water 1 degree Celsius.
The average woman needs to eat about 2,000 calories per day to maintain her weight, and 1,500 calories per day to lose one pound of weight per week. Meanwhile, the average man needs 2,500 calories to maintain, and 2,000 to lose one pound of weight per week. However, this depends on numerous factors.
To lose one pound per week, you need to reach a total calorie deficit of about 3500 calories per week or 500 calories per day. To lose two pounds per week, you need to double that number. So you need to reach a 1000-calorie per day deficit or 7000 calories per week.
Running is the winner for most calories burned per hour. Stationary bicycling, jogging, and swimming are excellent options as well. HIIT exercises are also great for burning calories. After a HIIT workout, your body will continue to burn calories for up to 24 hours.
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