How Many Calories Should I Eat?
When it comes to weight loss, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Weight loss companies want to sell you on diet plans, food supplies, special shakes, the list goes on. There are a lot of promises of quick fat loss, simple tummy trim-ups, and “lose weight fast” schemes alike. It can be daunting trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. The simple truth is this: no matter what kind of “diet” you are on or off these days, losing weight boils down to burning more calories than you consume. Now, there are lots of factors that go into burning fat, calorie expenditure, and the kind of and quality of food you consume. However, the math always checks out one way or another. Consuming fewer calories than you burn equals weight loss.
That being said, let’s discuss what you can expect on a broad level analysis on how many calories to consume in a day.
What Are Calories?
The term calorie refers to a unit for measuring energy. The calories in the food and drink you consume each day translates to the amount of energy they supply your body. You can think of your body like a machine that runs on fuel. There are lots of moving parts that require energy expenditure to operate. We provide fuel to our bodies in the form of calories supplied by the food and drink we consume each day. (LiveScience)
How Many Calories Should You Eat on Average?
It’s important to note that all the numbers provided here are based on averages. Every single human body requires a specific calorie count to function properly. These numbers are a great place to start, but you may have to tweak your numbers to personally achieve your goals.
The average person should eat around 2000 calories on a daily basis to maintain weight. This number factors in your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) as well as an average level of activity (not sedentary, but not overly active). Your BMR is the number of calories your body needs to function with no activity at all and varies from person to person.
It’s generally understood that by netting a caloric deficit of about 500 calories per day (or an average of 3500 calories in a week) you can expect to shed one pound per week. This of course can rely heavily on a number of factors like metabolic health, activity level, current weight, height, age, and so on. The most important thing to remember is that your goal should be a healthy weight for you and your body type. For example, bodybuilders will need significantly more calories than those with less physically demanding activity levels. If your goal is weight loss, keep in mind that losing about a pound per week is considered a healthy rate of loss. Does this mean you will literally see the scale tick down one pound at a time each week? No. Most likely you’ll see dips and spikes in weight over the course of months. But the average weight loss regimen should strive for the one pound per week goal. (Healthline)
If you are more of a “give me the numbers” kind of person, you can apply the following equation to calculating your exact caloric needs. According to Jim White, the owner of Jim White Fitness Nutrition Studios, you can use this formula to help you understand what kind of consumption your body requires.
10 x your weight (kg) + (your height in centimeters x 6.25) - (5 x age years) - 161.
If you want to enjoy better accuracy, all you need to do is multiply by a different number based on your physical activity level. Below is the description that may help you:
- Sedentary lifestyle: multiply by 1.2
- Lightly active: multiply by 1.375
- Moderately active: 1.55 (you exercise 3 to 5 days per week)
- Very active: 1.725 (you exercise 6 to 7 days per week)
Based on your activity level, White says, you can shed one pound of fat per week provided you net a 500 calorie deficit per day based on your number. Don’t want to do all the math yourself? You can use this calculator to figure out the amount of calories you need to consume per day to gain or lose weight.