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Finding the Right Number of Calories to Eat is Important!
Eating too few calories can be as damaging to your health as eating too many—but how many calories do you need?
The number of calories you should eat per day depends on your body size, your level of activity, and what types of foods you typically eat.
But there are some general guidelines that can help you decide how many calories to eat each day.
Find out more in this guide to the number of calories you should eat each day.
Do You Need to Track Your Calories?
Tracking calories is important for people trying to lose weight, but it’s not necessary for everyone.
To track your calories, you need a calorie goal, so keep reading!
If you have already determined your calorie goal, skip down to How Many Calories Should I Eat? for tips on how many calories you should be eating each day based on that number.
If you don’t know how many calories to eat, we suggest using a Calorie calculator tool and starting with 1-2 days of food journaling before deciding whether or not counting calories works best for you.
How Does Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) Affect Your Caloric Intake Needs?
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is your body’s resting metabolic rate, or how many calories you burn just by existing.
BMR increases and decreases depending on a few different factors, but it’s a helpful starting point when calculating caloric intake needs.
Generally speaking, men with a larger bone structure require more energy than women do at rest; however, they burn fewer calories throughout their day because they have less muscle mass.
Age is also a significant factor—the older we get, our metabolism slows down as muscle mass declines and fat deposits accumulate.
A woman in her 30s will have about 25 percent fewer daily calories available to her than a man in his 30s because of these natural changes as she ages.
This doesn’t mean that you can eat twice as much food or expect to be leaner if you’re a man who works out regularly, though.
Men need about 2,500–3,000 calories per day for general health and maintenance while women should aim for 1,800–2,200 calories per day based on size alone.
However, both sexes can benefit from getting regular exercise.
How Many Calories Should I Eat?
You can generally expect to consume about 2,000 calories per day while dieting.
This gives you a calorie deficit of 1,000 calories per day, which can cause you to lose between 0.5 and 1 pound per week (depending on your body weight).
There are other factors at play here, including your level of physical activity and current metabolic rate—but let’s just say that without cutting back on calories, you won’t be able to lose weight fast.
Most people should aim for between 1,200 and 1,500 calories per day.
For serious athletes or those who work out every day, these numbers may need to go up; but if you’re not very active, keep your number below 1,400.
Any eating plan worth its salt will help you control portion sizes. While it may sound like an obvious piece of advice—who doesn’t want to eat less?
It can actually take some time getting used to eating only until fullness; setting appropriate plate sizes, and understanding exactly what portions sizes really mean.
Calculating Daily Calorie Needs
The number of calories a person eats per day varies depending on their level of physical activity.
The three general categories are sedentary, moderately active and highly active.
Sedentary people who do not exercise will need approximately 1,600 calories a day to maintain a healthy weight.
Moderately active people will need 2,000 calories per day, while those who exercise regularly will have higher caloric needs.
Highly active men can consume 3,200 calories each day if they weigh more than 200 pounds or consume 2,800 calories a day if they weigh less than 200 pounds.
Highly active women should eat 2,400 calories a day if they weigh more than 210 pounds or 1,800 daily if they weigh less than 210 pounds.
Women who fall into either category should split their calorie intake into about 12 percent from carbs, 25 percent from fat and 61 percent from protein.
Don’t Let Your Daily Calorie Intake Get Too Low
If you’re trying to lose weight, your daily calorie intake should be less than what you expend through exercise and general activity.
For most people, that means consuming about 1,500 calories a day.
It can be tricky to know exactly how many calories that translates into—but if you take in fewer than 1,200 calories per day without exercising, you’ll start losing weight rapidly.
However, once your body enters starvation mode (which usually happens after one week) your metabolism will slow down dramatically.
This means it takes much longer for your body to shed those last few pounds.
So don’t let it get to that point! Instead, consume 1,200-1,300 calories each day and focus on moderate exercises such as light cardio or yoga two or three times a week.
As long as you’re maintaining proper hydration levels and getting enough fiber from whole grains, vegetables and fruit (that contain those good antioxidants), then burning off an extra 400-800 calories should be no problem at all.
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