How do I know how many calories I should be eating??
One of the questions I get asked a lot is, “How do I know how many calories I should be eating??” Have you ever heard the term ‘BASAL METABOLIC RATE??’ This is The number of calories your body needs – just to function. If you stayed in bed all day and never moved, this is your BMR or basal metabolic rate.
When it comes right down to it, weight loss is all about calories. Knowing the number of calories your body burns to perform daily functions, (BMR,) can help you determine the number of calories you need to lose weight. (Consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.)
This is what your BMR is-
*BMR is the amount of energy you need (in units of calories) to sustain basic physiological functions while at rest; mostly things you don’t even think about, like breathing.
*BMR calculations are general assessments based on averages and some are more accurate than others.
*Factors like gender, weight, age and height are typically included in the calculation, and sometimes activity level.
*The more commonly used Harris-Benedict (Estimated Calorie Requirements) and Mifflin-St. Jeor equations both use a generic “activity level” to calculate BMR, but not all do. More advanced calculators are designed with more specificity to get a better picture (Total energy expenditure)
*In most calculations, activity level is based on your own notion of how active you are. Most people are in the very broad middle zone (not completely sedentary, yet not as active as, say, a pro-athlete). In the real world, this classification should sum up everything you do most days, including shopping, mowing the lawn, housework, PLUS that which we tend to think of as “real” exercise, such as running, lifting weights, spin class, etc.
Some BMR calculations account for things like total energy expenditure, the thermic effect of food (TEF) and NEAT [Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).], while some don’t.
Very few BMR calculations take lean body mass into account. The more muscle you have the higher your metabolism should be.
Unless you’re using specific feedback technology, calories burned is just another generalized metric based on 1) averages, and 2) the reliability of your own assessment of what you do all day.
It doesn’t account for your metabolism, stress levels, sleep patterns, hormonal fluctuations and other factors.
Also – when accessing calories burned BMR calculators don’t account for intensity and fitness level. Another thing to consider, is that your BMR and calories burned decreases with weight loss. As you lose weight you both need and burn fewer calories.
So to answer the question- How many calories should I be eating?? Do this…
Conventional Wisdom says that the safe number is generally a deficit between 200 to 500 calories a day, never lower than 1200, ideally equal or higher than 1500. And of course, it’s all negotiable based on your needs- its all individual!
Assess your overall health based on:
Hunger and cravings
The variety of nutrients in your diet
Fitness level and improvement over time
What your doctor tells you
***Start with a slight deficit through a combination of reduced calories and light exercise.
***Pay attention to your body’s cues and adjust down if you need to.
***Implementing small changes gradually will help you stay on track to lose weight and improve fitness safely.