How to understand how many calories to eat?

Understanding calories and their role in our diet is essential to maintaining a healthy weight and thus promoting overall well-being because Calories are basically a measure of the energy we get from food.

To understand how many calories you should eat, you need to evaluate the relationship between your current weight and your ideal weight:

  • If the goal is to lose weight, or lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. A reduction of 500-1000 calories per day can lead to a sustainable weight loss of around 0.5-1 kg per week, although in reality it is a bit more complicated and less predictable.
  • To maintain your current weight calories consumed should equal calories burned.
  • If the goal is to gain weightyou need a caloric surplus, you consume more calories than you burn.

Thanks to this consideration, you will be able to find out how many calories you are eating in relation to your caloric needs.

A person’s calorie needs vary depending on several factors such as

  • age,
  • sex,
  • mass,
  • height
  • and physical activity level.

For example, men tend to require more calories than women due to their greater muscle mass and body size. Age also plays an important role, as calorie needs generally decrease with age.

The girl asks herself in front of the blackboard

Shutterstock/ra2 studio

Online calculators

The fastest way to calculate your caloric needs, i.e. the one that theoretically allows you to maintain your current weight, is to use one of the many more or less complex mathematical formulas that estimate your daily caloric needs based on the above factors.

Of course, it is possible to use one of the many online calculators, but it is important to remember that Qany formula used, even the most accurate, can always be only an estimate, an approximation with a more or less large error.

For example, if you are coming from 10 years of dieting tears and blood your metabolism will be especially slowed down by the constant sacrifices, unlike someone with a very active lifestyle, normal weight, and used to eating a lot of carbohydrates, who was able to burn them off as easily as a child.

A more accurate approach

There is then a second possible approach to the problem, the correct one😊: if your weight does not change during this period, it means that what you eat corresponds to your current calorie needs; it is important to note that the weight must be consistent and more or less stable for at least a few weeks (daily fluctuations do not count, focus on the overall trend).

To put this reasoning into a number, just track EVERYTHING you eat (oh, I mean absolutely everything!) for 7-10 days via one of the many calorie counting apps, and then calculate your needs . day average.

However, pay attention to two basic aspects:

  • It’s really important to count on a period of at least one week (both for weight control and calorie calculation, because the body thinks in weeks and months, definitely not in one day).
  • People tend to overestimate calories burned and underestimate calories taken in from foodfor example forgetting mark the morning apple because it’s a healthy food, the 5 pens that were left by your child, which you then ate, and the 2 sweets that you stole from your colleague (because what do you want 2 sweets to count for…) . These estimation errors become even more apparent when you’re asked for a rough estimate of calories, but that’s another matter…

Now you want to lose weight?

If you are reading these lines, I guess you want to lose weight, right? Translated, you want to know how many calories to eat to lose weight…

Since there is only one rule of thumb to lose weight, that is to eat fewer calories than you burn, knowing your calorie needs will help you understand how to:

  • If you are hiring many calories, you can start cutting them and hit the road straight away,
  • but if you are hiring little calories, it may (paradoxically!) be necessary to eat more for several weeks to restore metabolism (metabolic reset) before establishing the caloric deficit necessary for weight loss.

To find out if you are eating a lot or not, the best solution is undoubtedly to contact a nutritionist, but for a first idea you can compare your needs calculated in the field (the second method seen) and then compare them with the values ​​you can find from different formulas (the first method ).

But you know what they say, right? No plan survives a battle, but no one survives without a plan… well, a weight loss diet is the same: you will need to be prepared to correct yourself on the fly, have the patience necessary to lose weight in a sustainable and gradual wayknowing that at some stages it may be necessary to take a break for new metabolic resets, because thinking about unlimited calorie reduction is not a good strategy…

What about physical activity?

In this process, physical activity plays a vital role, which is not so much that you burn more calories (which certainly helps, but less than you think), but rather in improving the metabolic distribution of nutrients, i.e. teaching your body to direct fats and carbohydrates towards the muscles and no longer towards the abdomen.

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