How Many Calories Should You Actually Be Eating?
Nutrition and diets are always in the commercials. We hear about how obese Americans are, and how to lose weight. But, is any of it backed in science? Even the medical professionals have outdated information on dietary research and nutrition guidelines that have proven results.
First and foremost–forget about BMI (Body Mass Index). This doesn’t tell you anything of value. Most medical professionals were basing a large portion of their suggestions based off of this number. You can be 200 lbs of pure muscle, and the BMI ratings will still ping you for being overweight. It doesn’t take into consideration the physical makeup of the individual and their activity level. So what should you look at?
BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate): The number of calories that you would burn being asleep all day. Our bodies burn energy differently at different stages of life. When we are young, we are running through great amounts of calories to grow, and as we age, we don’t need as many calories to sustain ourselves. Same goes for our sex. Men will burn calories differently than women. Lastly, your size; if you are a larger human, then you will need more calories to survive.
The Harris-Benedict Algorithm: This algorithm was created to combine all of the variable factors of caloric intake to determine exactly how many calories you need per day. It multiplies your age, gender, activity level, and size all into one math equation to spit out a number. This number is to be the amount of calories you need to maintain your current size. If you are looking to lose weight, then you’ll cut back about 200-300 calories off of the final number.
Let’s take Jane Doe as an example. She is 5’7”, 35 years old, is 175 lbs, has a desk job. She runs 2-3 miles every day as exercise. Jane would need 2491 calories/day to maintain where is currently is. That’s nearly 500 more calories than the average 2000 calorie diet plan. That’s almost an entire meal! Not eating enough puts us into a brain fog and moodiness. No one enjoys being the grump who can’t remember anything.
The idea of eating less to lose weight doesn’t work the way you want it to. You may lose some pounds initially, but eventually, you’ll plateau. If you aren’t eating enough calories, then your body starts to go into starvation mode. Your body will want to protect itself by putting all of the calories that you eat directly into storage as fat. Doing the exact opposite of what you want to happen. Calculate exactly how much energy you need to stay alive, and subtract 300 calories from that number to lose weight in a healthy way. You will feel better, look better, and think better.
Push all the noise away from the diet ads and meal plans. The thing you need to focus on is eating the right amount of calories for you, getting those calories from good foods, and drinking plenty of water. By doing those things, and by maintaining a healthy level of activity, then you’ll see the weight fall right off. You’ll feel great doing it, too!