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How many calories should I eat a day?

# How many calories should I eat a day?

This is usually one of the first questions people ask when starting a diet. There are a lot of calories out there, but that doesn’t mean you can eat them all. In fact, there's a lot of misinformation about how many calories you should be taking in. You should consult with a doctor before you start a diet or make any drastic changes to your diet.The value obtained from these equations is the estimated number of calories a person can consume in a day to maintain their body-weight, assuming they remain at rest. This value is multiplied by an activity factor (generally 1.2-1.95), dependent on a person's typical levels of exercise, in order to obtain a more realistic value for maintaining body-weight (since people are less likely to be at rest throughout the course of an entire day). 1 pound, or approximately 0.45 kg, equates to about 3,500 calories. As such, in order to lose 1 pound per week, it is recommended that 500 calories be shaved off the estimate of calories necessary for weight maintenance per day. For example, if a person has an estimated allotment of 2,500 calories per day to maintain body-weight, consuming 2,000 calories per day for one week would theoretically result in 3,500 calories (or 1 pound) lost during the period.

## FOOD

Choose a method to track your calories and progress towards your goals. If you have a smartphone, there are many easy-to-use applications that facilitate tracking calories, exercise, and progress, among other things. Many, if not all of these, have estimates for the calories in many brand-name foods or dishes at restaurants, and if not, they can estimate calories based on the amount of the individual components of the foods. It can be difficult to get a good grasp on food proportions and the calories they contain – which is why counting calories (as well as any other approach) is not for everyone – but if you meticulously measure and track the number of calories in some of your typical meals, it quickly becomes easier to accurately estimate calorie content without having to actually measure or weigh your food each time. There are also websites that can help to do the same, but if you prefer, manually maintaining an excel spreadsheet or even a pen and paper journal are certainly viable alternatives.

There are many approaches to weight loss and there is no set ideal method that works for all people, which is why so many different diets and exercise regimens exist. While some methods are more effective for each individual person, not all weight loss methods are equivalent, and studies suggest that some approaches are healthier than others. That being said, one of the most commonly effective weight loss methods is counting calories. In its most basic form, calories consumed minus calories expended will result in weight gain if the result is positive, or weight loss if the result is negative. However, this is far from a comprehensive picture, and many other factors play a role in affecting healthy, sustainable weight loss. For example, there exist conflicting studies addressing whether or not the type of calories or foods consumed, or how they are consumed, affects weight loss. Studies have shown that foods that require a person to chew more and are more difficult to digest result in the body burning more calories, sometimes referred to as the thermic effect of food. While the increase in burned calories may be marginal, foods that are more difficult to digest such as vegetables generally tend to be healthier and provide more nutrients for fewer calories than many processed foods. Aside from being one viable method for facilitating weight loss, calorie counting has other somewhat less quantifiable advantages including helping to increase nutritional awareness. Many people are completely unaware of, or grossly underestimate their daily caloric intake. Counting calories can help raise awareness of different types of foods, the number of calories they contain, and how these calories have a different effect on a person's feelings of satiety. Once a person has a better understanding of how many calories are actually in that bag of chips that they can so easily inhale within minutes, how much of their daily caloric intake it consumes, and how little the chips do to satiate their hunger, portion control and avoidance of foods with empty calories tends to become easier. (Source: www.calculator.net)

## ACTIVITY

Calories are a measure of energy, and represent what you need to take in every day for your body to be properly fueled. The amount you need depends on your age, your gender, your height and weight, and your physical activity level. How many calories you burn also depends on your basal metabolic rate. This rate drops as you get older, which is why older people generally need fewer calories to stay the same weight. To learn how many calories you are taking in, write down the foods you eat and the beverages you drink, plus the calories they have, each day. Check the nutrition facts label for serving sizes and number of calories, and consider portion size. A food diary will help you become more aware of what you are consuming. Also, begin writing down your physical activity each day and the length of time you do it. (Source: www.cdc.gov)

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