The Common Question of How Many Calories Should I Eat
How many calories should I eat is a commonly asked Google question. And we understand why as it is very individual and can have a hugely positive impact on everyday life. For example, metabolism, hormonal profile, general movement, muscle mass, subconscious movement (fidgeting), stress level, libido and sleep quality all rely on your consumption of calories!
How Many Calories you Should Eat is Individual to you
It’s a very interesting topic because too little calories and you may feel tired, lethargic and ultimately have low motivation, slower muscle building success, poor strength performance in training and low clarity of thought at work. On the other hand too much energy and you may again feel lethargic, bloated, tired, gain fat too quickly and feel sluggish at work which then impacts productivity. So, this common question of how many calories should I eat is kind of like asking how long a piece off string is…
The Benefits of Tracking Calories
Tracking calories can consume time from your day but the trade offs are certainly worth it for energy alone. Moreover, if you have specific goals and want to push passed a plateau without spinning your wheels in the process. Besides, after just a few days of getting used to My Fitness Pal it becomes a matter of minutes. And typically humans are creatures of habit in that we eat similar foods each week. Talking about the intricacies of My Fitness Pal is beyond the scope of this blog. But we will be talking about it in future!
How the Metabolism Links to How Many Calories you Should Eat
Components of Total Daily Energy Expenditure
Back to calories! We are going to keep this nice and simple without going too in depth. 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
Basal Metabolic Rate Accounts for 70% of your Total Calories
This accounts for the majority of our energy that we use at rest! This energy sustains the subconscious stuff that we needn’t ever think about. Including; blood circulation, breathing, blinking, hormones, controlling body temperature, cell growth, brain and nerve function and contraction of contractile muscles. 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). Strength training slows this process down so keep those gains incoming!
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
This includes everything that isn’t sleeping, eating or sports. So, fidgeting (we do this less when dieting), work actions such as typing, walking to work and gardening.
Thermic Effect of Food
This includes the energy it takes for digestion, absorption and disposal of ingested nutrients. Some foods have a higher thermic effect than others such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts and seeds (20-35% of the energy consumed).
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 clearly see, all of the above add up to a very individual number of calories that your body will burn as energy in a given day. As a result, this energy will need to be replaced by quality nutrition so that you can perform at your best! Under feeding your body can reduce its recovery capabilities which lowers your ability to perform at life.
How Many Calories Should I Eat, then?
Its important to note that there is no way to know exactly how many calories a person requires (this includes calorie calculators too). As a result we have to trial and error our calories versus movement and use the scales as a ‘tool’ as well as progress pictures and measurements. However, here is a super quick way to get you started.
Multiply your bodyweight in pounds by 15-18 to figure out your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). If you have less muscle mass or are a beginner multiply by 15-16. If you have more muscle mass and are intermediate+ multiply by 17-18. For example, my natural bodyweight without strength training is around 150 pounds (approximately 2,550 TDEE) at 174cm and 12-13% body fat.
More Muscle Means More Calories
After 5 years of strength training my bodyweight floats around 174lb and 1o-12% body fat. 174 X 18 = 3,132 calories. Interestingly, I don’t gain weight when eating around this number. The beauty of muscle mass is that you can eat more food without fat gain due to having a bigger engine. Yes this goes for you too ladies! If your goals are weight loss then you may find this Weight loss blog interesting!
We hope we helped you in understanding your question of “how many calories should I Eat”!
Eat More Calories and Optimise your Machine
The human body is a miraculous machine that you have been given for free. Why not feel and look your very best every day by optimising and feeding your machine what it needs?
How many calories does your body require?
Luke & Kate