Years ago, diet and nutrition advice largely centered on counting calories and restricting the number of calories eaten daily. These days, there are so many fad diets that involve changing the way you eat meat, carbs, gluten, raw food, sugar, and more. However, caloric intake is still vital to overall health and maintaining a healthy weight.
Let’s discuss how many calories you should really eat each day and how to consume your daily calories in the healthiest way possible.
Why Calories Are Important
Calories provide the body with energy so that it can function properly. There is a direct correlation between calories and body weight. If you eat approximately the same number of calories that you burn, your weight will stay about the same. If you eat fewer calories, you may lose weight, while eating more calories may result in a higher number on the scale. However, being mindful about what you eat is more important than just doing the mathematical calculations. It may also be beneficial to consume calories from different foods at specific times of the day and strategically around your exercise schedule.
Calculating Your Calorie Intake
Concerning calories, the standard rule for daily intake is 2,000 per day for women and 2,500 for men. According to U.S. dietary guidelines, adults should consume between 1,600 and 3,000 calories daily. However, women and men come in such varying sizes and live such different lifestyles that this standard is barely helpful.
Your age, how much activity you get per day, and your height and weight play a role in the caloric recommendation. You may burn more or less energy based on your bodily hormones, medicines you take, and illnesses you suffer from. For an estimate to guide your own calorie intake, input your age, height, weight, and gender into this Mayo Clinic calorie calculator.
Healthy Ways to Get Calories
Despite popular belief, calories are not the enemy and an essential part of the human diet. Optimizing your calorie intake is a smart idea so that you have enough energy to do the things you enjoy and aren’t always hungry. When you get the calories your body needs, you’ll be on the path to an ideal weight and protect yourself from infection and disease.
There is a distinction between high-calorie foods that are healthy and unhealthy. For example, more nutritious options for high-calorie foods are olive oil, avocados, coconut, meat, eggs, nuts, bananas, peanut butter, and dark chocolate. Unhealthy high-calorie foods include bacon, fries, pizza, cake, and chips. If you are watching your calories, avoid processed meats, fast food meals, white bread products, fatty meats, and sugary drinks. Whole, natural fruits and vegetables are excellent for keeping you full without driving your calorie count sky-high.
There are numerous smartphone mobile apps that you can use to track your calories, making it convenient to keep an accurate count even when you dine outside the house. My Fitness Pal, Calorie Counter by FatSecret, and MyNetDiary are just a few examples.
Do you track your daily calories? Is it time to adjust your daily calorie intake for better health?