Many of us; and with that I mean people around the world; eat way more food than our body requires. It is actually a struggle, how can we know how many calories we should consume in a day and still call ourselves healthy?! With now a days lifestyle we dedicate very little to actually think about what we put in our body and just dedicate ourselves to “grab on the go” all the time. Maybe is time to give a little thought and the needed attention to our eating habits, after all in the words of Hippocrates:
“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”
I think we should start on the beginning don’t you think! So, what are calories?
Calories are a measure of how much energy food or drink contains. The amount of energy you need will depend on:
- your age: for example, growing children and teenagers may need more energy.
- your lifestyle: for example, how active you are
- your size: your height and weight can affect how quickly you use energy
Other factors can also affect how much energy you burn, for example:
- some hormones (chemicals produced by the body): such as thyroid hormones
- some medications: such as glucocorticoids (a type of steroid used to treat inflammation)
- being unwell.
Now that we know the recommended calorie intake is based on age, gender and activity level. if you consider yourself active, than let’s say you are someone who walks six miles a day, then The American Heart Association would recommend you that; men between the ages of 19 and 30, who are sedentary, should limit their caloric intake to 2,400 calories each day. Moderately active men in this age range can eat between 2,600 and 2,800 calories each day. Active men can increase their caloric intake to a maximum of 3,000 calories daily. If you want to lose fat, a useful guideline for lowering your calorie intake is to reduce your calories by at least 500, but not more than 1000 below your maintenance level. For people with only a small amount of weight to lose, 1000 calories will be too much of a deficit. As a guide to minimum calorie intake, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that calorie levels never drop below 1200 calories per day for women or 1800 calories per day for men.
Even these calorie levels are quite low. An alternative way of calculating a safe minimum calorie-intake level is by reference to your body weight or current body weight. Reducing calories by 15-20% below your daily calorie maintenance needs is a useful start. You may increase this depending on your weight loss goals.
Take note of another really basic rule of thumb to use for healthy portion sizes is to look at your plate and imagine all of the food in your stomach. Does it fit? Will it satisfy you until your next meal, or will it stuff you and sit around down there for the rest of the day?
And most of all looooove your stomach!!! think about it like if it had a brain on his own and if you eat something you shouldn’t or way too much of a healthy portion he would tell you “what are you doing to me”???!!!! courtesy of my sister who thinks her stomach talks to her! Isn’t a cool way to put it!