How many calories should I eat a day? That’s a great question to consider. Calories are essential to sustaining life. They provide all the energy you need to power your body. However, when they are consumed in excess, they may lead to weight gain. That makes it important to monitor your food intake for extra calories. However, Tony Horton recommends that you also focus on a healthy diet and fitness to help regulate your calories. Learn some tips and advice on understanding and managing calories below.
What Are Calories?
Let’s start with the basics. People often think of calories as scary fat lurking in food that will make you gain body fat. In fact, calories are just a measurement of how much energy food gives you.1
Humans need calories to maintain healthy bodily functions. However, when you eat more calories than you use, your body stores the excess. This surplus in calories can then lead to weight gain.2
The key is to match up how many calories your body burns with how many calories you consume.
How Many Calories Should I Eat A Day On Average?
General calorie recommendations suggest 2,000 calories per day for an adult diet. But, everyone is different, and your exact daily calorie intake depends on a number of factors. The following impact how many daily calories you need:3
Your metabolic rate and physical activity alter the amount of calories your body uses. More exercise increases the number of calories your body burns. This may lead to weight loss if you use more calories per day than you consume.4
Age And Gender
Males and females burn and utilize calories differently. Age is also an important determining factor. Adult females who are 20 years old may have very different caloric needs than 30-year-old females.5
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Calculating your body mass index is one way to determine if you’re at a healthy weight. It uses your current weight and your height to determine your relative weight category. This is useful to know when determining if you should increase or decrease your calorie intake.6
Calculating Your Daily Calorie Intake
One way to get a more accurate assessment of your daily calorie requirement is to use a calorie calculator. This type of calculator may take into account your age, gender, weight, and physical activity level. Then, it gives you a suggested daily calorie count which you can use for weight maintenance.7
Weight Loss Goals
With this information, you can set up some daily calorie goals to help you achieve your goal weight. Some experts suggest you consume 500 to 1,000 fewer calories per day to lose about 1 pound of weight each week. Establish your calories per week depending on the above factors and your health goals.8
Note: Speak to your doctor before beginning any new diet.
Calorie Counting: A Version Of Weight Control
Tracking calories is certainly one way to potentially help you maintain a healthy body weight.
Processed foods tend to be low in nutrients, but high in fats and calorie content. That means your body isn’t getting all the nutrients it needs, but it is getting all the calories it needs (and more).9
Below are some foods that tend to be high in calories and low in nutrients – and should therefore be avoided.
Sugary Drinks: Sodas And Juices
Soft drinks and juices are the largest source of calories and sugar in the American diet. Limiting these types of drinks may help reduce your caloric intake and promote healthy weight.10
Carbohydrates are an essential source of energy. However, refined carbohydrates tend to be far less nutritious. These carbs tend to lack fiber and other essential nutrients. Natural, unprocessed carbs do have these nutrients, which slows their absorption into your body, helping to keep you full longer. So, think vegetables and whole grains instead of sugary foods and foods made with white flour.11
A Different Perspective On Calories
Calories are nuanced and affect everyone differently. That’s why Tony Horton recommends a more holistic approach to calories. He suggests you focus more on the types of food you eat, rather than the exact calorie content. And, you want to incorporate daily activity and exercise into your plan.
His guidance can be used if you have weight loss goals or just for general healthy living.
Follow A Healthy Diet: Real Foods To Eat
Not all calories are the same. The sources of calories are just as – if not more – important than the amount of calories.12,13
That’s why Tony Horton recommends getting healthy types of calories from these foods. Here are a few great nutrient-rich foods. Add a few to your daily diet to begin a nutrition-driven approach to your daily calorie intake.
- Lean proteins, like chicken breasts
Fitness And Exercise
Tony Horton also recommends a solid exercise plan. Your physical activity level helps burn the calories you consume. Regardless of whether or not you wish to lose weight, you should still make physical fitness a part of your daily routine.
The American Heart Association recommends all adults get 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. This weekly physical activity influences a number of health factors, including support for good health and overall well-being.14
Make A Calorie Plan
It always helps to have a plan. Even if you don’t count every calorie, you can still plan meals and exercise for the week. Having a set menu of healthy food may help promote more consistent healthy eating. Plus, a fitness schedule helps you understand how many calories you burn during the week.
A Different Kind Of Calorie Counting
Flip that question – how many calories should I eat a day? – on its head. Instead, think about what kind of calories you consume. Tony Horton recommends a calorie approach that focuses on the quality and type of food you eat. Wholesome, nutritious foods tend to be naturally low in calories and high in the good stuff.
A healthy diet with a solid focus on exercise can help you shift your attention away from the calorie counter. This means less attention on stressful calorie counting and more attention on the tasty, healthy food on your plate.
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