One of the biggest questions that people going on a weight loss program have is: how many calories should I eat? Your daily caloric requirements largely depend on a few factors, but if you are looking to lose weight then you should consider the content ahead to boost your success. Weight loss is an involved process that requires you to monitor what you eat, meaning your daily caloric intake will need to be precise and efficient. With that said, listed ahead is a complete description of the amount of calories you should expect to consume if you are looking to lose or maintain your weight, as well as an answer to how many calories should I eat?
Calories in Macronutrients
Before jumping directly into what you should eat, it is important to know how your total caloric intake adds up with the foods you eat. Your macro nutrients include fats, carbs, and proteins, but alcohol is often calculated as a source of calories consumed because it is highly caloric. Each of these macro nutrients provide your body with fuel that can be used throughout the day for your overall energy requirements. Let’s take a closer look.
Fats are an important part of your diet and they are also the nutrient source that provides the most energy. One gram of fat consumed provides about nine calories, which is more than double any other nutrient around. High fat diets tend to cause problems for adults looking to regulate body weight and many of these diets can cause abdominal obesity. However, some popular diets out there incorporate high fat and low carb eating patterns with high success rates so finding what works for you is important.
The next macro nutrient you will find in your diet is carbs. Carbs are the most common food in most all diets and they are generally often a common issue of obesity. One gram of carbohydrates provides about four calories; however, the standard diet tends to include about 250 or 300 grams of carbs each day (at least). Many diets aim to reduce the amount of carbs you eat each day as a way to reduce your total caloric load, but many of them are not feasible for long-term success.
The next macro nutrient that foods contain is proteins. Proteins are important for health and wellness in that they provide the body with amino acids for growth, repair, and regeneration. One gram of protein offers four calories, which is identical to carbs. The only difference is that proteins are not commonly over-consumed. Actually, increased protein diets tend to lead to improvements in overall body weight management including weight loss so keep this in mind.
This last nutrient listed is not considered to be a macro nutrient, but it is a compound that provides calories. One gram of alcohol contains roughly seven calories, meaning even though you may have an alcoholic beverage that is sugar-free, you will still be consuming calories. Alcohol can quickly lead to weight gain since it contains a high caloric load per gram and it also promotes fat generation as well. Drink alcohol in moderation and be mindful that over-consuming alcohol can lead to overeating on any food.
How Many Calories do I Need?: The Average Adult
The standard amount of calories you should be consuming each day varies on a number of things. For starters, if you are tall you will need more nutrients when compared to someone who is shorter. In addition, your level of physical activity, metabolic rate, and your occupation all plays roles in how much you should eat each day. With that said, let’s take a look at a few differing options that adults should consider when looking to maintain body weight.
The Standard 2,000 Diet
Anytime you read a food label you may notice that your daily percentages are based off a 2,000 calorie diet. This has long been the standard for which adults should eat and it used to once apply to how all adults should eat. The standard 2,000 calorie diet should pertain to adults who are at least average height, male or female, somewhat active, and with a generally average metabolism.
The Reduced 1,800 Calorie Diet
If you are knowledgeable on your food labels you may notice that there is a section that pertains to 1,800 calorie diets. This is usually a reduced diet for the standard adult, but it is a more realistic way to eat each day. This 1,800 calorie diet should be for adults who are shorter than the average person, less active, or for someone with an occupation that requires a full day of sitting.
The Increased 2,400 Calorie Diet
Wait a second this is not listed on any food label. Given that a large majority of adults are at least overweight, it should come as no surprise that adults very seldom need to gain weight. However, a small percentage of the population may need to increase the number of calories as a way to promote cellular growth, repair, or simply to gain weight. This is usually seen in the athletic community, adults with chronic illnesses, or for adults who are much taller than the standard individual.
How Many Calories Per Day Should I Eat to Lose Weight?
Now that you have some background about the standard diets for adults looking to maintain weight, you should have a better understanding as to what you should eat to lose weight. There are many factors that figure in your weight loss, but if you are simply looking to combat the standard weight loss formula (calories in must be less than calories out) then you should consider a reduced caloric load.
As a whole, men require more calories than do women, which mean the calories you need to eat for weight loss will more than likely differ. If the standard male needs to eat anywhere from 1,800 to 2,400 calories just to maintain weight, then anything below this should induce weight loss. Finding the right caloric load depends on your activity and your metabolism, but it will also highly depend on what you eat each day.
In comparison to men as a whole, women require fewer calories. With that said, many females require much smaller caloric intakes, often ranging in the 1,000 to 1,500 calorie range. Depending on your height, activity levels, metabolic rate, and your weight loss goals, your caloric needs may be quite low.
How Many Calories Should I eat a Day if I’m Active?
Your level of physical activity plays a huge role in what you should eat throughout the day. If you are constantly asking how many calories should I eat a day and you are active then you should consider the information ahead.
Your level of physical activity is an important figure in how many calories you need to consume each day. If your workouts at the gym are very high in intensity, such as with high intensity interval training, then you will be using more calories during that workout. In contrast, if your workout is lower in intensity and you do not sweat much from it then you should expect to use fewer calories. Studies have demonstrated that high intensity exercise is a good way to burn fat throughout the workout, so ramping up how hard you work could have serious effects on your body weight.
Time of Activity
Sometimes higher intensity exercise is not safe or effective and not everyone can perform a high intensity workout to begin with. For that reason, being active for longer throughout the day, but at a lower intensity, can be another way to boost your calorie burn throughout the day. If you are constantly on the go and on your feet throughout the day then you should expect to burn more calories throughout the day, not to mention you should be able to eat slightly more if you are looking to maintain your weight.
If you are a competitive sports athlete then you should consider eating more calories throughout the day. Most athletes need to eat more nutrient and energy dense foods as a way to promote cellular growth and repair. In addition, if you are a competitive athlete looking to keep your current body weight then you should consider food and your calories consumed as the fuel that will energize you throughout your sport.
How Many Calories Should I Eat: Dieting Techniques
If you are looking to go on a weight loss diet, you should know that most diets will require you to cut back on your daily calories. Each diet has its own rules, but some require very limited calories as a way to decrease what you take in. Most commonly, this kind of dieting method is referred to as intermittent fasting and it can play a major role in your weight loss journey. In addition, some diets promote a modest decrease in your usual caloric load by cutting carbs from your diet. The Atkins, Paleo, and Keto diets all apply this method as a way to promote weight loss.
Is There a Caloric Intake Calculator That I Should Use?
The easiest way to count your calories so that you know how many you eat each day is with a phone app. Smart phone apps designed to count your calories are gaining popularity in that they are easy to use and they give valuable data for the individual. Many of these apps give basic results on your total number of calories consumed along with macro nutrient breakdown, which means you are able to monitor every aspect of your diet. Most of these apps are free for use for the basic functions, but upgrading to premium services can help to boost motivation and to gain an upper hand on your weight loss journey.
So How Many Calories Should I Eat a Day?
Using all of the information above, you should be able to find a suitable fit for how many calories you should eat each day. There is not any one set number of calories that works for every adult, but having some foundation on where to start is important.
There are many sites and phone apps that help you to calculate your total calories consumed each day. Most of these apps ask for your height, current body weight, level of physical activity, age, and weight loss goals. With this information, many of these apps will give you a suggested caloric requirement that you should aim for based off your weight loss goals, so keep this in mind when determining how much you should eat each day.