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Daily Calorie Intake

Whether you are contemplating weight loss, weight gain, or just weight maintenance, one of the first things you need to take into account is your daily calorie intake. Why is it so important to understand your daily calorie intake? Different food groups such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats along with micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals contribute to your daily calorie intake. Fat contains twice the amount of calories found in proteins and carbohydrates. A calorie is a unit measurement of energy.
Simply put, the food and beverages we consume contributes to our daily calorie intake. In turn, our body converts these calories into energy that we need to perform our bodily functions. An average daily calorie intake is based on the food and beverages we consume to provide our energy needs over a period. However, apart from the calories we ingest during mealtime, we also consume many ‘empty’ calories from unhealthy snacks and beverages such as colas and sodas. Do not be fooled by the term empty calories. It suggests that we consume calories that do not carry any nutritional value in them. However, the calories still count and they certainly add up.

Understanding your calorie needs is the first step towards weigh loss or weight gain. If you are consuming more calories than your body requires for its energy needs, you end up storing these calories in the form of fat. Consider this: If you have ingested over 3500 calories above your energy needs, your body will store these calories and you will gain a pound in weight. Studies debate the function of stored calories. Some studies suggest that the body will ultimately use stored calories in the absence of essential nutrients. Furthermore, stored calories will prevent additional calories from being stock piled. Since no conclusive evidence on this topic is available, we have to presume that excess calories cause more harm than benefit. What remains true is that excess calories in the form of fat will cause several medical conditions such as obesity, cholesterol, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes, among others. Obesity alone is the source of a number of other medical conditions such as juvenile and type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) among women, and thyroid problems, to name a few.

Calorie intake goals. One of the first steps to a successful diet is identifying the recommended daily calorie intake for you. The recommended daily calorie intake differs for individuals based on a number of factors such as gender, height, weight, muscle to fat ratio, level of physical activity and various other lifestyle choices. Based on the above factors, the recommended daily calorie intake for men is 2500 to 2800 calories. The recommended calorie intake for women is 2000 calories. Since men possess more muscle mass, they tend to burn their calories faster than women do. Thus, the recommendations for calorie intake are higher for men than women. However, a sedentary lifestyle, low physical activity, and body mass index may change the calorie intake requirements for individuals. The daily calorie intake for children and young adults also takes into account the above factors. Additionally, at each stage of growth, the recommended daily calorie intake for children would differ. Small children need about 1300 calories pre day. Young boys need 1970 calories, while girls need 1740 calories per day. However, this is a general guideline, and the recommendations would differ depending on physical activity and body mass index (BMI).

Calorie intake for individuals during their youth and adulthood are higher due to the level of activity. Older people with significantly lower levels of activity should also lower their calorie needs with age. Calculating your calorie needs can be frustrating. Luckily, you can use a daily calorie intake calculator to determine the amount of calories you consume. Many online versions allow you to enter the number of calories based on different foods and drinks you consume during the day. A daily calorie counter may allow you to not only determine the calories you consume but also track the number of calories you burn by undertaking various activities. Depending on your gender, height and weight, muscle to fat ratio, a daily calorie counter calculates how many calories you burn in activities such as walking (throughout the day), swimming, running, climbing stairs, and so on.

Calories and weight management. A prevalent misconception when it comes to weight loss is that the fewer calories you consume, the more will be the weight you lose. While it is true that to shed the pounds you need to consume fewer calories, however there is a method to the madness. Your daily calorie intake needs to suffice your body’s energy needs. Anything higher than this recommended daily calorie intake would lead to stored fats. For example, if your daily calorie intake is 2500 calories, it simply means that your body needs 2500 calories to perform optimally. Consuming fewer than 2500 calories will lead to fatigue, mental exhaustion, and malnourishment. However, as you continue to lose weight on diet and exercise your body now requires fewer calories. At this point, you may consume fewer calories based on the recommended calorie intake for your current weight.

Most experts recommend a 1500-calorie weight loss plan depending on factors such as your gender, size, and level of physical activity. While you maybe tempted to try calories lower than 1200 calories per day, do remember that cutting back on calories drastically will deprive your body of essential nutrition. Eliminating all carbohydrates or fats from your diet may also eliminate essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. What is worse is that drastic diets trick your body into starvation mode. Since you withhold calories from your body, you body starts withholding calories and storing it. Therefore, while you eat an undernourished diet, you still seem to gain or maintain weight instead of losing it. Ultimately, you harm your body, in some cases, fatally. Depriving diets do not help much either. Eventually, you either start cheating on your diet or abandon it completely.
A healthy daily calorie intake recommends that you eat various foods from the main food groups. Additionally, your diet must also include sources of dietary fiber such as whole grains. Brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, multigrain breads, cereals, oatmeal, oat bran, and ancient grains like quinoa provide both carbohydrates and dietary fiber. Raw and cooked vegetables, fruits, poultry (chicken and eggs), dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, seafood, and lean cuts of meat are all essential sources of vitamin and minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, and so on. You can consult your doctor or dietician to know more about the foods mentioned in the recommended daily calorie intake chart. Moreover, a daily calorie intake chart will specify the number of calories you acquire from each food group and food source. It will list down serving portions for meals, fluids, and snacks. The chart will recommend calorie needs depending on level of activity and other factors. A general guideline for daily calorie intake charts is available online. However, your dietician or nutritionist maybe able to customize a daily calorie intake chart based on your specific needs. Your daily calorie intake chart may also specify foods aimed at losing or gaining weight.

Daily calorie intake to lose weight. It is difficult to provide a daily calorie intake to lose weight since gender, height, weight, lifestyle, and activity are all contributing factors. However, one guideline to follow when calculating daily calorie intake to lose weight involves consuming fewer than 500 calories below the recommended daily calorie intake. One way to minimize your calories is to consume fewer calories. Alternately, you may consume the recommended daily calorie intake to lose weight while exercising to burn at least 500 calories more than you consume. For example, the recommended daily calorie intake for women to lose weight is 1500 calories. At this rate, a woman who has been consuming 2000 calories (or more depending on her calorific needs) may either cut back on calories gradually until she reaches a BMI that allows her to consume 1500 calories per day. Another solution involves her consuming 2000 calories, but exercising to burn at least 500 calories per day. On average, we may consume more than 2000 calories per day, necessitating the need for a daily calorie intake counter. A helpful tip is to gradually reduce the number of calories you consume by 15 to 20 percent below your daily needs until you hit the optimum level of calories.

With so much focus on weight loss, there is need to discuss the daily calorie intake to gain weight too. As we mentioned, no diet should be less than 1200 calories per day in order to provide your body with health and nutrition. Once you understand the calorie needs of your body to maintain weight, you can easily calculate the additional number of calories to gain weight. Every time you consume 3500 calories, more than your calorific needs you will gain a pound. However, nutritional food needs to be the source of these additional calories. In addition, you need to continue to exercise to maintain lean body mass.
Submitted on January 16, 2014