How Many Calories Should I Eat?
How Many Calories Should I Eat a day?
If you’ve read anything about losing weight, you’ve probably read about calories in vs. calories out. Nutritionists have determined that, in general, a body will lose weight if it burns off more calories than it consumes. This is the logical basis at the core of almost every commercial weight loss plan. If you’re devising your own plan, the first question you should ask yourself is “how many calories should I eat?” Determining the amount of calories your body needs is the first step in deciding what you want to eat each meal within that calorie count limit.
Basal Metabolic Rate
Every person on the planet burns a certain number of calories every day, just by being alive. Small muscle movements, breathing and organ usage all take up various amounts of energy, and this energy is measured in calories. The number of calories needed for existence is known as the Basal Metabolic Rate. In order to determine someone’s Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR, doctors employ a formula known as the Harris – Benedict equation. The equation takes size and age into account to determine how many calories a body burns in a 24 hour period.
In order to find a person’s Basal Metabolic Rate, take the weight in pounds and multiply it by 4.35. Multiply the height in inches by 4.7. Take the age in years and multiply this figure by 4.7. Finally, add the weight and height numbers together and add 655. Take this final number and subtract the age number. The final answer to all these math problems will be the exact Basal Metabolic Rate for this person. Or if you rather we do the calculation, use the form below. You can also use the calorie calculator to get a more exact number which takes your exercise level into account.
Consider Activity Levels
The Basal Metabolic Rate is, just what the name implies, a baseline figure from which you can begin calculating. The final answer to the question “how many calories should I eat in a day?” isn’t as simple as that, but has to take into account a large number of lifestyle questions. The first thing to consider is the dieter’s activity level.
Depending on how active a person is during his daily activities, he will burn off a greater or lesser number of calories throughout the day. This activity can have a great effect on the final calorie total a dieter should use for his weight loss goals. A construction worker who lifts heavy objects all day long at work will burn off more calories than someone who sits at a desk all day, and this makes a big difference in the amount of calories these two people should consume every day in order to lose weight.
Take an honest look at the regular activity done on a normal day. Sedentary people have desk jobs, watch a lot of television, read a lot and don’t move much at all. People who indulge in light activity probably have a desk job but move around for about an hour a day walking the dog, taking stairs or going shopping. People who live a moderate lifestyle do light physical or manual labor such as waiting tables, stocking shelves or cooking food, plus some physical activity such as sports on evenings and weekends. The most intense group, those who are classified as very active, are active military members, athletes in season, weightlifters and others who do physical labor for many hours in the day.
Each activity level is assigned a number. Sedentary is 1.4. Light is 1.5. Moderate is 1.6 and intense is 1.9. Multiply the Basal Metabolic Rate by the activity level number and you will get a fairly accurate guide to the number of calories burned each day.
How many calories should I eat a day?
This number still doesn’t answer the question, “how many calories should I eat?”, but it’s a solid beginning. The calorie count is the number of calories a body uses up to maintain its present weight. If the goal of an eating plan is to lose weight, the number of calories consumed each day should be smaller.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dieters should aim to lose between 1/2 lb. and 2 lb. a week for safe and consistent weight loss. People who crash diet and lose a lot more than this on a consistent basis have a hard time sustaining the loss, and often gain the weight back as soon as the diet is over.
On average, one pound of fat is the equivalent of 3,500 calories. This means that in order to lose one pound of fat in a week, you need to consume 3,500 fewer calories in that week, or 500 fewer calories every day. The math for this problem is simple. Take the amount of calories a body burns each day and subtract 500. This is the number of calories consumed each day for this dieter to lose weight.
Just like in any dieting plan, these equations are based on average bodies in average circumstances. Everyone is different, and totals need to be adjusted according to other factors. If a person is significantly overweight, the amount of calories should be even lower. Obese people have a higher ratio of fat to muscle, and muscle burns off weight faster than fat. Percentage-wise, lean people burn calories faster than overweight ones do. On the other hand, if someone is eating a high protein diet instead of a diet filled with simple carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour, they will burn calories slower and can consume more of them and still lose weight.
The only way to tell the exact number of calories that should be eaten in a day is by experimenting. Set a limit based on average numbers and try the plan for two weeks. Find out how much weight can be lost with this number. If the weight loss is too slow, consume 200 fewer calories each day for the next two weeks. On the other hand, if weight is coming off at a rate of over 2 lb. a week, add 200 calories to the daily total to create a safer and more sustainable eating plan.
Bodies change depending on the amount of activity in a given day and the amount of excess fat still on the body. There is no one ideal calorie total for weight loss, but an ever-changing target toward which you should aim on a daily basis. Hitting this target on a majority of days will result in the most consistent weight loss on a regular basis. For those looking for a program, we recommend the diet solution program.
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