How Many Calories Do You Need Each Day?

Most Americans Don’t Know How Many Calories They Need

Trying to lose weight? Do you have any idea about how many calories you should eat every day? According to a 2010 Food & Health Survey by the International Food Information Council, most Americans don’t have a clue.

The survey found that:

  • 65% of people in the study said concerns about weight were the prime driver of their food choices
  • 70% are concerned about their weight
  • only 17% could estimate how many calories someone of their age, height, weight and activity level should eat
  • for people trying to lose weight, only 19% are counting calories, and not many knew approximately how many calories they burn in a day
  • Nearly half said they’re trying to eat more protein
  • More than half worry about the amount of salt they eat and 60% buy reduced sodium products

What Dictates How Many Calories You Need?

How many calories you need varies with your age, gender, current weight, metabolism (the physical and chemical processes that naturally take place in your body to sustain life, like breathing and digestion), and your activity level. When you eat more calories than your body needs you gain weight; when you eat fewer than you need you lose weight.

What’s The Relationship Between Metabolism and Weight?

Your metabolism is usually measured in calories. Although you can estimate your average calorie requirement based on your weight and activity level, every person’s metabolism is different. To manage your weight it helps to know about how many calories you need every day. You can figure this out by knowing your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)  and the number of calories your activity requires.

  • Resting Metabolic Rate:  if you are not an elite athlete, about 70% of the calories you expend every day you use for essential life processes. This is your resting metabolic rate (RMR) and is basically the number of calories your body requires to keep it alive if you just flaked out on the couch all day.
  • Calorie Requirements For Activity:  These are the calories you burn through movement, activity and exercise. Even non-exercise activity, like fidgeting, counts.  For many of us, this makes up about 30% of our total daily calorie expenditure.

SocialDieter Tip:

Here’s a link to a page where you can plug in some of your information to calculate your:

  • BMI (Body Mass Index) which will give you a general idea if are you considered normal weight, overweight, or obese
  • RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) to estimate how many calories you burn in a day based on your physiologic needs
  • Calorie Requirements for Activity:  There is an activity calculator which shows how many calories different types of activities will burn and will also calculate how many calories you burn in 24 hours

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