Just How Many Calories Do You Need?

veggie-public-domain   Unfortunately, many of us struggle to achieve healthful eating habits. We may lack knowledge about what we should eat, much less why should eat it. So here’s a post on the basic nutrition information I always go over with clients before starting an exercise program.

 

Calories

There are three main processes that cause your body to burn calories. Basal Metabolism (about 60% of all the calories you burn – accounts for the body’s basic processes, like breathing, thoughts, and heart beats)

  • To find how many calories you need to sustain your basal metabolic rate, multiply your body weight in pounds by 10.1 if you’re a female and by 11 if you’re a male.

Activity (this category includes the calories you burn through movement)

  • If you lead a pretty sedentary lifestyle with a little standing and walking, this amount of calories will be equal to about 20% of the calories spent on your basal metabolism.
  • If you lead a somewhat active lifestyle that includes some exercise, this might amount to about 50% of the calories spent on your basal metabolism.
  • If you lead a very active lifestyle that includes constant movement throughout the day, this might amount to about 70% of the calories spent on your basal metabolism

Thermogenesis (this category includes the amount of calories you spend digesting food)

  • This amounts to about 10% of the calories spent on your basal metabolism

So if you’re a 150-pound female who lives a somewhat active lifestyle, you might shoot for consuming around 2424 calories per day if you want to keep your current body weight. (150 x 10.1 = 1515, 1515 x 0.5 = 757, 1515 x 0.1 = 152, 1515  + 757 + 152 = 2424)

Macronutrients

Macronutrients are the nutrients that give your body energy. They include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The dietary reference intakes committee (a group of researchers from the US and Canada) recommend that the average person achieve the following ranges of the macronutrients:

  • Carbs: 45-65% of daily calories (1g of carbs = 4 calories)
  • Proteins: 10-35% of daily calories (1g of proteins = 4 calories)
  • Fats: 20-35% of daily calories (1g of fats = 9 calories)

So, on a 2000 calorie diet, that would look like:

  • Carbs = 225 – 325g
  • Proteins = 50 – 175g
  • Fats = 44 – 78g

Lots of get-thin-quick diets have emphasized eating low amounts of carbs. This can be appropriate for some people, but for the general population, this strategy has yet to prove healthful. Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of energy. Proteins and fats can be turned into energy, but it’s more stressful on your body. Low carb diets have been found to cause inflammation. And if proteins and fats are being used for energy, then they’re not being used for other essential functions.

These Guidelines Are Not For Everyone

The guidelines above were developed for large populations. They are not for everyone. Your age, activity levels, body composition, and genetics  affect how your body metabolizes energy and the macronutrients it needs. However, they can provide useful guidance for many as they endeavor to be healthier.

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