How Many Calories Do I Need to Eat?
When we are determined to lose weight, we are tempted to cut down the amount of food we eat dramatically. It would seem logical to think that if we reduce our calories then we will lose weight, and whilst this is true in theory, if we cut our calorie intake too much, we may actually not only prevent weight loss but also create other health problems.
Calories are essentially units that measure the amount of energy we eat in our food or we use in our daily activities and when we exercise. To maintain a healthy weight, our calories burned during any 24-hour period must not be less than the amount of calories we ingest in our food during that time. Our bodies can compensate for the occasional meal that is very high in calories, but over the course of a few weeks and months, if we continue to eat more than we exercise, we will gain weight.
Balancing our Daily Caloric Needs with Our Desire to Lose Weight
Traditional diets are being replaced by food plans that limit calorie intake to the amount that provides only adequate calories for daily activities. When the body receives fewer calories than it can use as energy, it will begin to burn stored fat to get the energy that it needs. Stored fat is the energy source that the body uses when our food intake does not supply enough calories to provide us with the energy our body needs to function. By limiting intake to a minimum recommended daily calorie intake and increasing the amount of calories burned through exercise, we will lose weight.
Our required caloric intake is dependent upon gender, age, activity level, and other factors. Most good plans will include a checklist to ensure you are eating an appropriate amount of food for your personal requirements. If you have a chronic disease, such as type 2 diabetes or a digestive disorder, you should always check with your doctor first.
Averages for Men and Women
Assuming you are young, fit, and healthy, the suggested calorie intake for a woman who has an average lifestyle is between 1700 to 2000 calories each day. If a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding, calorie requirements rise to around 2300 calories per day. A man who is moderately active will need approximately 2300 to 2500 calories each day. But a very active man may require 3000 or more a day, as a minimum, to stay strong and healthy.
Eating for Weight Loss
Individuals who want to lose weight effectively should reduce the amount of calories they consume by around 500 calories per day, and anyone who wants to lose weight must look at what foods they are consuming to get the necessary calories they need to function each day. Swapping simple carbohydrates, such as potatoes, rice, and white bread, for sweet potatoes, brown rice, and whole grain bread, will help you reduce the calories you ingest by keeping you feeling fuller for longer periods throughout the day. These foods also reduce the swings in blood sugar levels that cause much of the food-related damage to the body over an extended period of time.
There are a number of diet plans that follow these simple guidelines and, in the long run, they almost all work better than the quick faddy diets that unfortunately are so popular right now. Following these recommended daily calorie guides will assist you not only in losing weight but also in maintaining your general health and preventing insidious weight gain that can develop gradually over many years.