How Many Calories Should You Eat?

According to a recent survey done by the International Food Information Council only 12% of Americans can accurately estimate the number of calories they should consume in a day.  So I decided to write this to make sure that you are in the know with how many calories you should consume daily.

What is a Calorie?

A calorie is the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of a liter of water one degree.  But honestly that doesn’t even pertain to the average person.  To put is more simply – a calorie is just energy.  Our bodies take energy to operate and use up energy even when we aren’t doing anything.  Basically, the calories in food give us the energy to function.

Relationship Between Calories and Weight

If the body takes in (or eats) more calories then needed (or used) the extra calories will be stored as fat and the body will gain weight.

If the body takes in (or eats) fewer calories than needed (or used) the body will break down stored up energy (or fat) to operate and the body will get smaller.

If the body takes in the same amount of calories as needed to function then the body will maintain its current size.

How Many Calories Should You Eat?

Luckily there are many online calculators to help you estimate how many calories you should be eating.  Here are a couple of my favorite:

My Pyramid Plan

Mayo Clinic Calorie Counter

Note that most calculators will give you the amount of calories needed to maintain your current weight.  To lose weight you will need to take in less calories than you need so your body will use up the extra stored energy resulting in a slimmer body.  Either type in your goal weight for the calorie calculators or subtract 500 calories per day for a total weight loss of 1 pound per week.

I do not think it is practical for everyone to count their calories daily but having a general idea of how many calories you should consume is extremely useful for making sense of nutritional information and labels.  Knowing your overall caloric need for the day will allow you to know how many calories you should consume at each meal and help you chose products and meals that fit within those numbers.

I hope this helps and let me know if you have any questions.



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