How many calories should I be eating?
As a nutrition coach over the past 10 years, this is probably one of the most frequently asked questions by potential clients. With the plethora of fad diets, nutrition information provided online and everyone in the world trying a different "diet", it is easy to see why generally people are very confused about what and how much they should be eating. Is this something you have been curious about as well?
You are definitely not alone! The CDC reported an estimated 17% of Americans aged 20 and over are on some kind of special diet on a given day. Are you one of these people?
We are going to dive into some key components when it comes to determining how many calories you should be eating on a daily basis, all of which are very specific to you. Everyone is going to have different calorie needs based on a few main factors.
First, you have to consider your goal. Is your goal to lose weight? Is it to put on muscle? Is it to maintain your current physique? Every unique situation is going to require a different caloric intake. Weight loss will require a lower calorie intake whereas maintaining your current weight will allow you to eat more calories. So, you need to first determine what your goal is before you proceed any further.
Second, you have to know an average of how many calories you are burning daily or your caloric output. Many of my clients use a tracking devise like an Apple watch or FitBit to track how many calories they are burning daily with their activity. This could be in the form of an actual workout or just walking up and down the stairs at work or walking the dog. This devise will track all of the calories you burn daily when you are moving or active. I personally use an Apple watch and the Fitness app to closely watch my activity caloric output for the day. This number will likely vary day to day, so it is best to track multiple days to get an accurate average of your caloric expenditure.
Lastly, you have to take into consideration your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Your BMR is the number of calories your body burns at rest. In other words, the number of calories required to keep your body functioning when not doing any activity. Great news, your body burns calories every single day on its own by just performing functions like breathing, digesting, pumping blood and even blinking! There are 4 components that go into calculating your BMR. Your height, weight, age and gender are all necessary to get the proper calculation.
Here is the formula:
Men: BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years)
Women: BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) – (4.330 x age in years)
So, you have determined your goal, you have an average number of calories you are burning during activity and you have used the website to determine your Basal Metabolic Rate, now what? Well, this is the fun part!
To properly determine how many calories you should be eating, you have to first establish how many TOTAL calories you are burning. You will need to take the number of calories you recorded as your average caloric output from activity and add it to the BMR calculation to get the total number of calories you are burning daily. From there, we go back to the goal. As I mentioned earlier, it all starts with the goal! If your goal is to lose weight, the number of calories you should be eating needs to be LESS THAN the number of calories you are burning daily. If your goal is to maintain your current weight, your intake needs to be the SAME as the total number of calories you are burning and to gain weight or put on muscle you are going to want to be eating OVER the number of calories you are burning.
Hopefully this information is helpful and gets you on the right path of determining how many calories you should be eating on a daily basis!
Until we chat again next week, remember if you fail to plan you will plan to fail! It's never too late to get started.
Built4TheHunt Women's Trainer