Whether you want to lose weight or maintain recent weight loss, counting calories is always a concern. Figuring out how many calories you should eat is where most people run into trouble. But figuring out your caloric needs doesn’t have to be like calculus, if you have the right information.
Keep reading to find the answer to, how many calories should I eat?
Figuring out how many calories you should eat each day depends on a variety of factors, including level of physical activity, gender and age. But what you need to know about calories is that calories are energy, energy your body needs to perform basic functions and rigorous physical activity.
If you consume more calories than your body needs, weight gain will occur. Likewise, if you consume more calories than you burn, weight gain will occur.
Calories for Weight Loss
If you want to know how many calories you should eat to lose weight, you must first find out how many calories you consume now. Cutting down on calories is ½ of the best path to weight loss, but you have to know how many calories you eat to know how many you should eat for weight loss.
Next you need to know how many calories you need to burn for weight loss. The answer is 3,500 calories burned is equal to 1 pound of fat lost!
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s do some simple weight loss math.
Let’s say you currently eat 2,500 calories each day. By cutting down to 2,000 calories per day you can burn 3,500 calories each week. That will allow you to lose 1 pound a week until your weight loss goal is reached.
By cutting down to 1,500 calories per day you can increase weight loss to 2 pounds each week.
Calories for Weight Maintenance
If you’re one of the lucky souls already at your weight loss goal then you need to figure out how many calories you should eat to maintain your current weight. Keep in mind that maintaining weight loss will require regular exercise as well, but right now our focus is on calories.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) you should use the following formula to figure out how many calories you should eat to maintain your current weight;
- If you are obese or lead a sedentary life, eat 10 calories per pound of desired weight.
- If you have a lower level of activity, consume 13 calories per pound of your desired weight.
- Eat 15 calories per pound of current body weight if you get moderate physical activity.
- Consume 18 calories per pound of desired body weight if you do strenuous physical activity regularly.
Be honest about your level of physical activity if you want to maintain your weight; being dishonest can lead to you consuming more calories than you need for maintenance.
As you’ve probably discovered you cannot talk about counting calories for weight loss without talking about your level of physical activity each day.
If you engage in strenuous activity, which the NIH defines as “vigorous physical activity” for an hour or more, a minimum of 4 days each week your calorie needs will be higher than someone who does no exercise each day.
In order to keep your daily calorie count at a healthy level, regular physical activity is a must. Losing weight or maintaining is easier if you reduce calorie intake and burn calories; this way you have the energy required—thanks to the calories—to engage in regular activities.
How many calories you should eat for weight loss depends on a range of factors, and now that you have them you can figure it out easily.
Read our review of Eat Stop Eat to find out how intermittent fasting can help you eat fewer calories.