The amount of calories you need per day varies, depending upon your goal and a slew of other factors. For example, if you want to lose weight, you need fewer calories. Most nutritionists will tell you to count your calories--every calorie--to come up with the correct number for you. It is a good idea to be aware of how many calories you are consuming every day.
Daily Calorie Requirement
According to licensed dietitian and nutritionist Martha Mckittrick, "Your caloric needs will vary depending upon several factors," including age, genetics, activity level, body composition and metabolism. The older you are, the fewer calories you need. Mckittrick points out that "The metabolic rate you inherited from your family in part will determine your caloric needs." The more you move, the more you need to eat. And if you move a lot, your body composition is likely to consist of more muscle than fat. Muscle will raise your metabolism, which means you need more calories to maintain your weight. You can easily calculate your metabolic rate by going to the calorie calculator link in Resources below.
Men need more calories than women. The weight-loss site AnneCollins.com points out that, "An adult man has 10 to 20 percent more lean tissue (muscle) than a woman of similar size and age, and thus a lower body fat percentage. This alone means that a man's average calorie needs are about 5 to 10 percent higher than a woman's." The site continues, "The exception is pregnancy and breastfeeding, when a woman's calorie needs increase typically by an average extra 300 calories per day when pregnant and 500 calories per day when breastfeeding."
The part most people find hardest when counting calories is the exactness of it. If you do not count every calorie you consume, you are wasting your time. This is why you need to keep a food diary. It is the only way you are able to find out how many calories you are consuming. The website familydoctor.org states, "Generally, food diaries are meant to be used for a whole week, but studies have shown that keeping track of what you eat for even one day can help you make changes in your diet." When people start keeping a food diary they are often surprised to learn that they are eating much more than they had previously imagined.
If you are trying to lose weight, you will have to cut down on your daily caloric intake. In order to lose one pound of fat per week, reduce your daily calorie intake by 500 since one pound of fat is 3,500 calories.
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