A client asked, “How many calories should I eat in a day?” The dietitian said, “Less than 2,000 calories.” The client added, “How many at night?”
Is the joke familiar to you? Pretty sure you’ve seen it on TikTok. It’s quite funny. But really, how many calories you must take every day?
Let’s find out here.
How Many Calories Should I Eat in a Day (24-hour period)?
I put the 24 hours just to be clear (no day and night). According to the NHS, the ideal daily intake of calories will depend on age and activity level. But that’s not all. Your metabolism or metabolic rate and physical activities also matter, among other things.
But NHS’s general recommendation is 2,000 calories a day for women. It’s different for men though as they can eat up to 2,500 calories a day. These dietary guidelines for Americans are for those who want to maintain weight.
When counting calories, you need to include everything that you eat to reach your calorie goal. Yes, including a teaspoon of yogurt that you thought would not count.
You should count everything because calories are described as a measure of “how much energy food or drink contains.”
To know the calorie content of the food you are about to eat, read the label. Unfortunately, if it’s homemade, you just need an estimate.
You may also use a calorie counter app. I use Lose It. But I don’t input everything (I forget it sometimes).
But why do you want to count your calories? Who should do it?
Counting calories is sometimes necessary. But it’s especially vital if you wish to lose weight.
How Many Calories Should I Eat in a Day to Lose Weight?
There’s no simple answer to this question. But to lose weight safely, aim to shed one to two pounds a week.
To achieve healthy weight loss, you must eat 500 calories less than your weight-maintenance calories. Thus, if you need 2000 calories per day to maintain your current weight, you should reduce the number to 1,500 calories to lose weight. Or use a calorie calculator to get the right estimate.
However, if you are living a sedentary life, you will have to lower your calories even further. The general recommendation is to do 30 minutes of physical activity every day to ensure you lose a pound per week.
Although reducing your calories is vital to losing weight, it should not fall below 1,200 calories. The reason for this is that it can endanger your health.
Reducing your calorie intake to 1,200 or even 1,000 a day may also cause hair loss.
If you want to meet your daily calorie target for weight loss, consider eating only homemade food. You should plan what to eat every day. Or talk to a registered dietitian.
Make sure to read the labels of every food and drink that you eat. Note the calories and serving sizes to avoid gain weight and to properly determine how many calories are in the food you’re consuming.
Knowing the serving size is vital because it can greatly affect the total amount of calories you eat and the calories burned. For instance, in a bag of Doritos, you will find on the label the number of calories present.
Unfortunately, if you don’t look at the serving size, you’ll think that the entire bag only contains 190 calories.
But when you review the label, it says per serving. So, only to realize that the bag has 4 servings and you consumed the entire content, then congratulations because you just ate 760 calories.
That’s why it’s always ideal to look at the serving size and the calories. And most of all, avoid processed and junk foods.
You can eat them once a month.
Is 1,200 Calories a Day a Lot?
If you were a baby, then yes, 1,200 calories a day is a lot of calories. But since you’re an adult, the number is fewer than the recommended calorie intake.
As mentioned, you need 2,000 calories a day to maintain your current weight, and to lose weight, you need 500 fewer calories.
Thus, 1,200 calories a day is low.
However, this type of diet is perfectly fine for a short period to promote repaid weight loss. But it’s difficult to maintain.
How Many Calories Should I Eat in a Day by Age?
The calories you need per day don’t only depend on your age. Rather, they also rely on your physical activity.
For instance, if you’re 30 and moderately active, you can eat 2,000 calories. You can eat more if you are an active individual. It means that you exercise for more than an hour on most days.
You may use this table as your reference.
Are 1,500 Enough Calories for a Day?
Yes, it’s enough. You will lose weight if you follow a 1,500-calorie diet. Then, you can further lose weight, if you choose to be active.
Meal planning is the key to ensuring that you don’t go beyond or over this limit.
To ensure that you’re eating 1,500 calories, you may prepare avocado and omelet in the morning. For snacks, choose to eat a medium apple.
Your lunch can be roasted veggies with tofu. Your afternoon snack should be less than 200 calories.
To achieve it, eat a cup of cucumber slices and a medium carrot, as well as 1/4 cup of hummus.
Your dinner can be between 400 and 500 calories. There are a lot of options available. Check out these OMAD meal ideas to know more. And these ideas, too.
What Foods to Focus on to Meet the Recommended Daily Calorie Intake?
You should priories nutrient-rich foods. Make sure that they are high in fiber and protein. And if you’re on the keto diet, consider healthy fats from whole foods.
For vegetables, aim to eat leafy greens and cruciferous veggies. Choose not-so-sweet fruits. Then, opt for whole grains.
When eating meat, make sure it’s lean. But if you’re on a keto diet, opt for fatty, grass-fed meat.
Don’t Want to Count Calories
If you don’t like counting calories, consider eating one meal a day. However, I just want to warn you that even on OMAD, you can still go beyond the limit.
It is especially true if you are eating processed and junk food.
Thus, when you’re on the OMAD diet, make sure to eat only whole foods, including vegetables, fish, nuts, fruits, seeds, and eggs.
They are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Thus, you won’t feel hungry every hour.
You should also limit your sugar intake. If you want to be sugar-free, consider a carnivore diet. It can be restrictive but it offers a lot of benefits, especially if you suffer from an inflammatory condition.
Calories You Eat Every Day
Every person is different. Hence, to know “how many calories should I eat in a day,” consider not just your age, but also your current weight and physical activity. Talk to a nutritionist to help you plan your meals so you can avoid eating out all the time.
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