How Many Calories should I be eating?
This is the number one question and the most controversial one. Calories, are units of energy you consume.
There is a simple rule. If you take in more calories than you use, you’ll gain weight and if you take in less calories than you use, you’ll lose weight. If your intake and expenditure are the same, then you’ll maintain weight.
In reality, it is much more complicated. I am going to give you some easy equations to help you calculate your caloric intake.
Start by getting an idea of your basal metabolic rate (BMR). The BMR is the number of calories required for involuntary functions such as breathing, regulating body temperature, digesting food, and keeping your circulation going. This is the least amount of calories your body needs to stay alive.
Different experts use slightly different equations to figure out BMR.
Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
This is can be an easy way to plug in Feldman’s equation and calculate your BMR:
Any BMR calculation you do on your own is just a general guideline, and you shouldn’t stress about pinpointing an exact number. A recent study showed that the best way to calculate your BMR is by going to a lab and measuring the amount of carbon dioxide you’re expelling and how much oxygen you’re breathing, to see how efficiently your body is metabolizing calories.
It is important to remember that if you are not getting in enough calories, the body will just hold on to the weight. The best is to keep your caloric intake to at least 1200 calories and never go below. More and more studies are showing that when you eat less than 1,200 calories per day, your metabolism can be majorly affected, your muscle mass can start decreasing, and you won’t get the vitamins you need to sustain daily activities.
Key factors for BMR calculations
1. Incorporating exercise (BMR + activity level)
United States Department of Agriculture ( USDA) came up with an easy way to measure how much you should eat based on your exercise level to maintain your current weight.
2. One pound of fat is around 3,500 calories, and safe fat loss is one to two pounds per week. To lose one pound of fat per week, you’d need a 500-calorie deficit each day.
3. There are other factors that affect weight loss such as your age, because metabolism slows down as you get older, your starting weight ( a person with a higher weight will lose at a faster rate) and your lean muscle mass, which can help spur weight loss.
In general calories are useful, but they’re not everything. Different foods have different calories, and eating real foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, dairy, and lean meats will help with weight loss. These good calories take care of themselves because they make you feel full and help you from not consuming too many.
Specifically, the fiber in the plant-based food and the protein in the animal-based food send signals to your brain to stop eating before you’ve gone overboard.
In conclusion mindfulness and moderation are the two key aspects to focus on instead of calories. Being mindful of the foods we choose and listening to our bodies when we are full will help keep our bodies healthy and help us avoid overeating excess calories.