‘How many calories do I need daily’ is a very Important question.
‘How many calories do I need daily’ is very unique to YOU! Once you know how much you beed you can then optimise your life. Because eating the right amount of food means you have optimal energy to perform at your best, all day. Resulting in your daily output being maximised and with minimal fatigue. And it also ensures you maintain your physiology. Because you have adequate calories to sustain basal metabolic rate and even slow down the ageing process.
Benefits of eating sufficient calories:
Stable hormonal profile
More energy to move
Increased muscle mass
Subconscious movement (more fidgeting which equals more calorie burning)
Enhanced stress buffering
Better sleep quality
So, our daily calorie intake is really important but is very under valued by most due to not knowing how important it is.
How Many Calories do I Need Daily and what are the Side Effects of inadequate Calories
Despite humans requiring similar amounts of calories on paper, it’s these small differences that in reality can have drastic outcomes. For example, chronically eating 250-500 calories less per day without realizing may be the difference between high energy or being too lethargic to train. And the result may be less motivation to expend energy. Or waking up aggressively hungry (leading to excessive eating) at 07:00 versus feeling satiated until 10:00 (naturally shortening your eating window). Not consuming adequate food leads to other issues too such as sarcopenia (muscle loss) or osteoporosis (bone loss) as we age.
Other down sides:
Slower muscle building
Poor strength performance
Cloudy mind at work
Less energy for the family after work
Fatigue and lethargy
On the other hand too many calories and you may:
Also feel lethargic
Feel tired all the time
Gain fat fast
So, as you can now see, ‘how many calories do I need daily’ is a worthy question. However, the how many bit is kind of like asking how long a piece off string is. So, let’s start you off in a good ball park range.
The Benefits of Tracking Calories
Tracking calories can consume a little time from your day but the trade offs are certainly worth it for the extra energy you’ll get. Especially because it put’s you in the drivers seat to achieve your goals! Because if you want to reach your goals and push passed plateau points you’ll need data to make the right interventions. Basically, what is measured can be managed! Besides, after just a few days of getting used to My Fitness Pal it becomes a matter of minutes per day! And typically humans are creatures of habit in that we eat similar foods each week. So, we don’t always need to log it as long as we eat the same foods most days. At a later date I’ll be talking about the intricacies of My Fitness Pal but it’s pretty easy to get to grips with after a couple days of trying it.
To note, this post is talking about how many calories you need to perform at your best which will result in weight maintenence. However, if you wish to drop body fat you will require a daily 500 calorie deficit beneath maintenance calories. Contrarily to gain muscle you will require a 250-500 calorie surplus.
How the Metabolism Links to the question of ‘How Many Calories do I Need Daily’.
Components of Total Daily Energy Expenditure
Back to calories! We are going to keep this nice and simple without going too in depth. But every humans need for calories is dictated by a few important markers and the below image by Research Gate demonstrates this perfectly.
Components of total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). BMR = basal metabolic rate; NEAT = non-exercise activity thermogenesis; TEF = thermic effect of food; EAT = exercise activity thermogenesis; REE = resting energy expenditure; NREE = non-resting energy expenditure. Adapted from Maclean et al., 2011
How Many Calories do I Need Daily: Basal Metabolic Rate Accounts for 70% your Total Calories
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) accounts for the majority of energy burning at complete bed rest. It’s the subconscious stuff that we needn’t consider. Such as; blood circulation, breathing, blinking, hormones, body temperature, cell growth, brain and nerve function and contraction of contractile muscles (heart). After the age of 20 our metabolisms typically slow down by 1-2% every decade. And interestingly, due to a loss of fat free mass (everything except fat). So, strength training is important as it slows this process down. So, keep training hard!
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
This includes everything that isn’t sleeping, eating or sports. So, daily fidgeting (we do this less when dieting), work actions such as typing, walking to work or cleaning.
Thermic Effect of Food
This includes the energy it takes for digestion, absorption and disposal of ingested nutrients. 20-30% of the calories ingested from high protein foods are burned to simply digest the food! And this is one of many reasons why high protein diets are a good idea for fat loss.
Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
This includes calories burned from intentional exercise like going to the gym, running or getting your step count goals in.
Calories In Versus Calories Out
As you can now more clearly see, all of the above add up to a very individualized daily calorie number for all of us! So a window cleaner on their feet all day and up and down ladders will be able to consume far greater calories than an office worker! So, not tracking nutrition when wanting to achieve goals is a little like trying to get to work blindfolded everyday. And quitting because you keep going the wrong way or can’t find where you’re going (your goals). Lastly, under feeding your body can reduce its recovery capabilities which lowers your ability to perform optimally and to build muscle for example.
How Many Calories do I Need Daily, then?
It’s important to note that there is no perfect calculation to know exactly how many calories a person requires (including calorie calculators). As a result we have to trial and error a ‘best shot’ calorie target over a 1-2 week period and use the scales (a tool) as a guide. Also, using progress pictures and measurements can be helpful too. Below will give you a start!
Multiply your body weight in pounds by 15-18 to figure out your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). Although this depends very much on your activity levels and occupation. So, use this online calculator for a better estimation but refer to a few body fat images on Google images prior to get the best estimate.
More Muscle Means More Calories
After 5 years of strength training my body weight sits around 175-180 lb and 11-13% body fat. So, 178 x 17 (15-18 multiplication) equals 3,026 calories which is close to my maintenance calories. Also, the beautiful thing about muscle mass is that you can eat more food without fat gain due to having a bigger engine (muscle)! And of course this goes for the ladies too! But if your current goals are more fat loss based then you may find this Weight loss blog interesting!
We really hope we helped you to understand this super important question of “how many calories should I be eating”.
Eat More Calories and Optimize your Machine
The human body is a miraculous machine that you have been given for free! So, why not feel and look your very best every day by optimizing and feeding your machine exactly what it needs? You can then truly see what you’re capable of! In addition, your maintenance calories can rise as your metabolism up-regulates. So, as you eat above your maintenance calories your metabolism can churn through it without weight gain! But this is usually only 150-250 calories within your estimated maintenance calories. But still cool nonetheless!
How many calories does your body require?
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