How Many Calories Should I Eat? How To Count Calories
8 minute read
Calorie-counting is a popular trend, and it has been for years. It seems when people talk about diets, they also simplify things down to a matter of how many calories you are eating. The fact is, diets aren’t quite so one-dimensional.
Still, calories are an important factor in nutrition, and it’s essential to continued good health to understand the effects they can have on your body. Even more specifically, it’s a good idea to know how many calories is the proper amount for you.
With that in mind, let’s unpack some of the mystery behind calories, and offer helpful tips on how you can consume the right amount of calories for your needs.
What Is a Calorie and Why Is It Important to Measure?
The word “calorie” actually refers to a unit of measurement that relates to energy. This is the energy your body gets from food and converts to a usable form.
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Everything from moving your muscles to simply operating your organs requires calories, so you can see they are important. Obviously, you don’t want to eat a diet of zero calories, or your body wouldn’t be able to function.
But how many calories do you really need? Well, it depends on a lot of individual factors. For example, how much you weigh, how tall you are, your daily energy output, and other variables could affect what your desired calorie amount should be for each day.
To get an exact estimate for your own personal caloric requirements, you can go online and use a variety of calculators and tools that will use your weight, height, and age to determine how many calories you need every day.
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For the average woman, you need about 2000 calories every day to maintain your weight, and 1500 daily calories to lose one pound per week.
For an average man, it takes about 2500 daily calories to maintain your current weight, and you’ll need to eat about 2000 calories daily to lose an average of one pound per week.
So, what are some ways you can help keep your calorie count in check? With so many fast food options and processed foods available everywhere, it can be hard to accomplish. But this list should help you manage the amount of calories you’re eating every day:
One of the most problematic habits that can derail your efforts to cut down on calories is large portions. This can be tricky when you go out to eat at a restaurant, as you might not have control over how much food is put on your plate. But be wary of massive portions that leave you feeling bloated and overstuffed.
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The fact is, 2000 calories looks a lot smaller than you might think, depending on the type of food. It’s easier than you’d imagine to load up on 2000 calories in just one meal alone.
In today’s world of super-sized burger combo meals, it’s easy to eat a big portion and not realize just how much food you’re consuming. If you keep to more frequent, smaller portions, you’ll find your body naturally stops craving food after a smaller amount of calories, as opposed to loading up on one huge serving of food all at once.
Eat the Right Food
There’s a big difference between good calories and so-called “empty calories.” There are some foods of which you could eat massive portions and still never truly feel full or satisfied.
This is a big part of the problem for people who have a hard time cutting down on their calorie count. For example, eating 200 calories of broccoli is going to feel like a whole lot more than 200 calories of a fast food burger.
The reason is because nutritious foods, like broccoli and other fruits and vegetables, are loaded with vitamins and nutrients in every bite. So the same amount of food feels like a lot more.
This makes you feel fuller and more satisfied, which will cause you to eat less. So eating enough of the right kinds of food can really go a long way towards helping you keep you calorie count in check.
Take Your Time
Don’t rush yourself when you eat. Sometimes, especially when you’re really hungry, it can be tempting to scarf down your food as quickly as possible. Especially in today’s society, where it seems like we’re always busy.
Maybe you’re used to eating a quick lunch, or you don’t have much time to take a break during the middle of the workday, and so you feel obligated to eat fast. But if you want to cut down your calories, you should really keep this habit to a minimum.
If you take your time and eat slower, it gives your body time to process the food, and your brain will recognize that you are full. Eating quickly can sometimes cause you to eat more than you need, because your brain hasn’t triggered the “full” reflex until a few minutes after you consume the food.
Grazing is a term that refers to the act of continuous eating. You may have noticed yourself doing this in a party environment, where you don’t sit down with one set plate, but rather munch on finger food and other snacks continuously.
This is terrible for anyone trying to stay conscious of their calorie intake. Sure, you want to eat smaller portions, but that doesn’t mean you should be eating constantly, every time you even suspect you might be somewhat hungry.
It’s better to have a designated time set aside for eating, so you can keep better track of just how much food you’re consuming. Stick to a breakfast, lunch, and dinner routine with an allowance for the occasional, healthy snack.
Stop When You’re Full
This may sound obvious, but it’s harder than you may think. When you feel your brain giving your stomach the signal that you’re full, that means it’s time to go ahead and stop eating.
It might be tempting to eat one more bite of dessert, just because you know you can, but if your body is telling you it’s time to stop, you should listen. This is another problem connected to larger portion sizes, especially when eating out.
The Bottom Line
If you’re thinking about watching your calories, now you know a few quick tips to keep in mind as you start on your health conscious journey. There will be times it’s more difficult than others, especially when you’re eating out of the house, but if you stick to these tips, you should be able to stay on the right track.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a crucial part of any long-term health goals you may have. Counting calories is an important part of monitoring and improving your diet to that end.
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