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How Many Calories A Day Is Ideal?

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How Many Calories Should You Eat In A Day

While a minimum of 1900 kcal is the daily recommended calorie intake, it can vary depending on your size, gender, level of physical activity, and stage of life. To watch your weight, burn more calories than you consume. But make sure the calories come from the right source like protein, which will fill you more than carbs do, and don't let your intake go below 1200 kcal, even if you are obese.

When it comes to calorie counting, there is no right or wrong. It’s all relative. The number of calories you should consume in a day depends on your age, gender, height and built, activity levels and health goals. It also depends on what stage of life you are in: a growing child would obviously need more calories than his or her father. A 6-feet-tall man in his 20s who is physically active would need more calories than a sedentary 60-year-old woman who is 5 feet 3 inches tall. Pregnant women need more calories than someone down with a fever. Even hormonal conditions (like a thyroid imbalance) and your metabolism need to be factored in to determine how many calories you need per day.

Counting Calories Right

What’s the ideal caloric intake for an individual? According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, the average minimum daily caloric requirement is more than 1650 to a minimum of 1900 kilocalories per person per day in developed countries.1. Though this is the average, it can vary depending on your sex.

If You’re A Woman

Since women’s anatomies are slightly different from men (like a smaller heart), both have different caloric requirements. Women in the age bracket of 19 to 25 need 2000 to 2400 calories per day, depending on their activity levels. From ages 26 to 50 the caloric requirement varies from 1800 to 2200 and thereon from 1600 to 2000.

If You’re A Man

On an average, males from the age of 21 to 40 need 2400-3000 calories depending on their activity levels. As we age, our caloric needs go down so males from ages 41 to 75 need a minimum of 2200 and a maximum of 2600 calories per day. Thereon, it is safe for men to consume 2000-2400 calories per day based on their lifestyle. These figures are based on Estimated Energy Requirements (EER), average height and built.2

Are You Eating Enough?

Having said that, how do you ensure you get adequate calories every day? The internet is choc-a-bloc with calorie calculators. One of the most popular formulae to figure out your ideal caloric requirement is the Harris-Benedict Equation. It works on the principle wherein by multiplying your BMR with a pre-set activity level number (1.2 for sedentary lifestyle; 1.9 for very active lifestyle et cetera), you get the ideal number of calories that work for you. Though the formula is said to overestimate activity levels and also proves to differ with weight history and ethnicity, it’s quite easy to DIY. But if that’s too much work for you, read on to get a general estimate. 3

Tips For Weight Watchers

If you want to lose weight, the math is simple: burn more calories than you consume. So to shed one pound, you’ll need to burn 3500 calories. Let’s say you want to lose a pound a week. That means cutting 500 calories everyday. 4

But calorie cutting and calorie counting are not the only factors in losing weight. Calories often get a bad rap; we starve ourselves and stick to ‘low cal’ foods or eat the ‘high cal’ foods in moderation. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as that. It also matters how you’re getting the calories. While you may have figured out a magic number for the calories you can allow yourself every day, you also need to think about the source.

Studies suggest that protein has a higher satiety value than carbohydrates or fats. A high-protein diet is also associated with increased thermogenesis or heat production in the body that also contributes to satiety and increased energy expenditure. Both of these can play a crucial role in losing weight. So, if your mission is to lose weight, a 400-calorie chicken breast for lunch would do a better job than mashed potato or rice of the same calorie.5

How Low Can You Go?

For many, the hunt for the perfect diet with an ideal calorie count that gives great results in no time without harming your health is endless. Doctors will often advise you to avoid crash dieting wherein you drastically reduce calorie intake and eliminate certain food groups completely. Not only is such kind of yo-yo dieting harmful for your health, it also throws your metabolism out of whack.

There is a certain bare minimum range of calories that the body must be nourished with. Ideally, even a low-calorie diet for women should not go lower than 1200. By following a 1000 to 1200 calorie diet, you can lose weight in a healthy manner. Even if you are on a treatment for obesity, very low-calorie diets less than 800 calories is a no-no without doctor’s supervision.6

Now that you know the ideal calorie count and how much is too much, it is easy to achieve your fitness goals. Just remember, don’t cut the calorie too low without checking with your doc.

References   [ + ]

1.Concepts of Hunger
2.Estimated Calorie Needs per Day by Age, Gender, and Physical Activity Level
3. Douglas, Crystal C., Jeannine C. Lawrence, Nikki C. Bush, Robert A. Oster, Barbara A. Gower, and Betty E. Darnell. “Ability of the Harris-Benedict formula to predict energy requirements differs with weight history and ethnicity.” Nutrition research 27, no. 4 (2007): 194-199.
4.How Many Calories Do I Need?
5.Paddon-Jones, Douglas, Eric Westman, Richard D. Mattes, Robert R. Wolfe, Arne Astrup, and Margriet Westerterp-Plantenga. “Protein, weight management, and satiety.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 87, no. 5 (2008): 1558S-1561S.
6.How Are Overweight and Obesity Treated?. NIH.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.