How Many Calories Do You Need
Many people seek to lose weight, and often the easiest way to do this is to consume fewer calories each day. But how many calories does the body actually need in order to be healthy? This largely depends on the amount of physical activity a person performs each day, and regardless of this, is different for all people â there are many different factors involved, not all of which are well-understood or known.
Some factors that influence the number of calories a person needs to remain healthy include age, weight, height, sex, levels of physical activity, and overall general health. For example, a physically active 25-year-old male that is 6 feet in height requires considerably higher calorie intake than a 5-foot-tall, sedentary 70-year-old woman. Though it differs depending on age and activity level, adult males generally require 2,000-3000 calories per day to maintain weight while adult females need around 1,600-2,400 according to the U.S Department of Health.
Now Lets Talk About Maintenance Calories
Your maintenance calories are your calorie requirements per day to maintain your weight in other words, staying exactly where you are, no gaining, no losing. Keep in mind though, that even if you eat at maintenance, your body weight can still fluctuate from day to day due to a number of variables that influence your hydration status. This doesnt mean youve gained or lost weight.
Your maintenance calorie intake needs are determined by a couple of different factors, including:
- Basal Metabolic Rate , which is the minimum number of calories your body needs to survive and carry out its regular functions while youre at rest .
- Activity thermogenesis, aka the calories that you burn from exercising
- Non-exercise adaptive thermogenesis , or the energy that you use for everything thats not physical exercise
- Thermic Effect of Food , or the amount of energy that is required to digest and absorb foods.
Put together, these four variables add up to your total daily energy expenditure , which is essentially your specific calorie requirements to maintain weight.
- If you eat more calories than this, your body holds on to that extra energy and stores it, leading to weight gain.
- If you eat fewer calories than this, your body uses that stored energy for energy instead, which will lead to weight loss.
A Few Basic Weight Loss Tips
In addition to cutting calories, there are several steps you can take to lose weight in a sustainable, long-lasting manner:
- Practice mindful eating.Mindful eating involves limiting mealtime distractions and paying close attention to your dishs texture, taste, and smell. Plus, this practice may reduce food cravings and promote long-term weight loss (
- Stock up on healthy foods. Following a healthy diet is much more challenging when you have a kitchen full of processed foods that are high in sugar and calories. Instead, stock your fridge with plenty of nutritious ingredients and healthy snacks.
- Find support. Studies show that social support may aid weight loss. Find a friend or family member with similar goals, join an online weight loss forum, or check for support groups in your area to set yourself up for success .
- Try meal prepping. Many people find that meal prepping is a convenient way to eat well and save time. Pick one or two days to prepare your meals ahead of time so that you can enjoy delicious dishes all week long.
In addition to decreasing your daily calorie intake, the tips outlined above may support long-term weight loss.
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So Truly At What Point Should You Go Into Calorie Maintenance/momentum
Well, you have to first earn the right to do it.
This isnt an excuse for you to step away from your Deficit because you want cocktails with your friends each weekend. Its not what the Cheat Meal has become where people just eat what they want and excuse their behavior not being congruent to their goals with two simple words.
If you want to truly lose weight you must be in a Calorie Deficit. You must also be truly consistent with that Calorie Deficit and give it the due care and attention it deserves.
You cannot simply move into Maintenance when the going just gets a little tough, and youre finding it hard to figure out.
I personally would say this: You can move into Calorie Maintenance once you have been in a Calorie Deficit for at least three months, hitting your Calorie Deficit numbers at least 24-26 days out of 31 in each month.
That is a consistent Calorie Deficit following the 80/20 rule.
I do think many people can sustain a Calorie Deficit a lot longer than thatand you probably should if you are still not getting towards your Weight Loss Goals.
Others moments when you should go into Caloric Maintenance are:
Yeah. Me too.
How Does A Calorie Deficit Work
Calories have two outcomes: either they are used for work and body functioning, or the excess calories get stored primarily as body fat. If you consume more calories than you use, you are bound to gain weight no matter what type of diet you follow.
The number of calories you need in a day is determined by several factors, such as:
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Potential Downsides Of Counting Calories
Although counting calories can be an effective strategy for weight loss, its important to remember that there are many other factors to consider when choosing what and how to eat.
Instead of focusing solely on calories, its best to follow a balanced diet thats rich in a variety of nutritious, whole foods. This can ensure that youre getting the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that your body needs to support weight management and overall health.
If you do decide to cut calories, be careful not to decrease your intake too much, as doing so may cause several serious side effects, including increased hunger, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and nausea .
Eating too few calories may also slow your metabolism, making it harder to maintain weight loss in the long term .
Losing weight sustainably also takes time. You should focus on small, gradual changes rather than rapid weight loss strategies.
Finally, calorie counting isnt an exact science. Some days your body needs more calories, while on other days it needs fewer. Focusing exclusively on numbers and weight may also lead to disordered eating .
Cutting calories too much may harm your health and make it harder to maintain weight loss. Instead of focusing only on calories, concentrate on a well-rounded diet thats rich in nutritious, whole foods.
Why We Can Eat More After Dieting
There are three principal reasons for this :
DCM diet condition maintenance, NCM normal condition maintenance.
In both diet condition maintenance and normal condition maintenance, you will maintain your weight, but how you perform, feel, and function will be vastly different between the two. We want to find the latter. Itll feel like you just got worked over by those Mercedes AMG engineers bigger engine, wider stickier tires, naughty exhaust note, and a bi-turbo.
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Adjust Your Calorie Intake For Weight Loss
Once you know your maintenance calories, for example lets say 2500, we can calculate the calorie intake level needed for weight loss.
Remembering that 1 kilo of body fat is about 7,700 calories and we want to aim for 0.5-1 kilo of weight loss per week:
500 calorie deficit per day = 3,500 calorie deficit per week
700 calorie deficit per day = 4,900 calorie deficit per week
These calorie deficits come from a combination of eating less and burning more. If you have a strictly healthy diet and arent sure where to cut calories, you might have to exercise a little bit harder.
If you know you can reduce your portions and cut back on carbs or fats in your diet, you can focus on a greater calorie deficit from your food. Keeping track of the calories you eat by measuring and weighing your portions is crucial for these calculations.
How To Gain Weight
Just as there is only one way to lose weight , the only way to gain weight is to eat more calories than you use. Your body will keep some of the calories that are not needed by increasing the size and number of fat cells in your body. It is easier to eat more calories than you need if you choose calorie-dense foods rather than low-calorie alternatives. Starchy, creamy, oily, sugary, concentrated foods are usually much higher in calories than fibrous, dilute, watery, airy foods. Eating lots of high-calorie food often leads to a calorie surplus, which if sustained will surely cause weight gain.
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What Determines Your Calorie Requirements
Its not just about exercise. Its about everything your body does from the most basic function to high-performance strength training, to studying for an exam, to walking to your car.
Its common to make the mistake of only thinking about how many calories you burn from exercise and nothing else.
And this a major mistake.
In fact, exercise, for most people is a small portion of your daily energy expenditure. While you might burn 250-300 calories during your hour-long gym session, youre burning much more than that through the day during your regular activities.
How To Calculate Your Calorie Maintenance Level
In case itâs not obvious enough, calorie maintenance levels are different for everyone because we all have different daily calorie requirements. Itâs not like everyone with a certain goal or body type has the same maintenance level or anything like that.
Instead, your calorie maintenance level is dependent on many factors that are specific to you and your exact situation.
These factors include:
- Thermic Effect Of Food
- Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
As you can see, your specific calorie maintenance level is tailored to you and you alone. Even if you are the same age, height and weight as someone and have the exact same activity level and goals as they do, you can both still have very different calorie maintenance levels and daily calorie requirements in general.
Luckily though, there are a few quick and easy ways to get an accurate estimate of what your daily calorie maintenance level is.
Here are my favorite methods
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Calorie Needs Reduce With Age
As we age, our metabolism slows as the cells in our body become less effective. This simple fact means that an older person needs fewer calories than a younger person even if both people have the same height, weight, and gender. Thus, age is a factor applied to the formula used in Calorie New Zealands Calorie Calculator.
Weight Loss And Gain Is Simply A Numbers Game
Despite what you might have heard elsewhere, body fat, and thus weight, is ultimately lost and gained in proportion to the difference between how much energy you eat and how much energy you use up.
If you eat more calories than you use, your body will store some of the unused calories as fat. If you use more calories than you eat, the stored fat will be converted to make up the difference. Using more calories than you eat is the goal of all weight loss diets, meal plans, and systems.
When you use more than you consume, you enter a calorie deficit situation.
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How To Calculate Calorie Intake For Muscle Gain
On the other side of the coin, you might be looking to bulk, or determine your calorie intake to gain muscle. In this case, youll need to figure out calorie intake to gain weight, which means that youll be adding calories to your daily intake.
Similarly to figuring out your calorie intake to lose weight, youll need to set a goal for yourself based on your targeted rate of weight gain. Our recommendation for this: try adding about 200-300 calories per day. Again, youll want to make sure that youre increasing your caloric intake for slow and sustainable weight gain, rather than adding on a ton at once.
How To Figure Out Your Calorie Requirements
Calories in, calories out: Its the golden rule of body weight. If you want to make any changes to your body weight, you first and foremost need to pay attention to your energy balance.
But what exactly does that mean? Theres so much information out there about calorie requirements that it can be confusing to decipher your calorie requirements for weight loss, calorie intake to gain muscle, and everything in between. The good news is that all it takes is a bit of tracking and some math to determine your calorie needs, no matter what your fitness goals are.
Heres your ultimate guide on how to figure out your daily caloric requirements, plus how to figure out calorie intake to lose weight, gain muscle, and everything in between.
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How Many Calories To Build Muscle
Both sufficient calories and protein are necessary to gain muscle. Putting on muscle requires that your body is receiving adequate calories which provides energy for protein synthesis, which means that being in a calorie deficit will make it hard to put on muscle mass.
Most people will need to eat at least their maintenance number of calories or more each day to gain muscle gradually, while also doing strength-training exercises. You can roughly determine how many calories you need to gain muscle by taking your TTEE and adding between 200 to 500 daily calories.
Another recommendation is to gradually increase calorie intake by 10 percent to 20 percent above your current daily calorie intake. The key is to go slow, stay consistent with resistance training and to keep track of your progress. This will let you know if its times to make changes, such as eating more or less. For the best results in terms of improving your body composition, aim to eat a clean diet with foods like grass-fed meats, eggs, fish, quality protein powders, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
*While this calculator provides an estimated caloric intake based on a number of factors, your nutritional needs may vary. Speak with a nutritionist or healthcare provider before you restrict your intake to ensure youre choosing a diet thats right for you.
How Many Calories Should I Eat
Fixed calorie recommendations do not work. They must be customized to each individual.
The calculator shows how many calories you may eat in order to maintain or lose weight. Do your best estimate of how much exercise you will be stick to. Be honest.
The recommended calories include your exercise so dont try to adjust what you are eating each day if you had a workout.
Over time, as you lose weight you will need to recalculate based on your new weight. Also, if you make big changes to your workout you should also recalculate.
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Lose Fat And Build Muscle
Most people lose muscle mass when restricting calories. Body recomposition takes real effort. It requires a delicate tweak of daily calories, combined with a comprehensive workout plan.
I have used this calculator to help me lose weight. In total so far I have lost 50 pounds, I went from a size 14 to now a size 6-8 Saskia more
Calorie Maintenance Level Daily Calorie Requirements Calculator
As Ive explained, your daily calorie intake is by far the most important part of your diet plan no matter what your goal is .
And, the starting point for figuring out exactly how many calories you need to eat per day revolves around something called your calorie maintenance level.
Your calorie maintenance level is where your body is at when you consume and burn the same number of calories.
Meaning, when Calories In = Calories Out, youve reached your calorie maintenance level.
Hereâs an example
Letâs say you burn 2500 calories per day from a combination of exercise , normal daily activities , and your body doing the things it needs to do to sustain itself .
That means 2500 calories is your daily calorie maintenance level in this example. If you then consumed 2500 calories each day, your body would remain pretty much the same. Your weight will not go up or down. Everything will just be âmaintained.â
Why? Because you ate the same number of calories that you burned, and that means all of the calories you consumed were used by your body. There was no surplus or deficit. It was even.
And, the amount of calories that makes this happen is your calorie maintenance level.
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