A question we’ve all asked ourselves, but sometimes we never know exactly what to expect. With so much information on the internet it can be hard to know what our body needs particularly.
Every body is different, and everybody requires different amounts of calories, macronutrients, and micronutrients. On top of that, your genetics and lifestyle play a huge role in your body needs.
Today hundreds of fitness influencers share their “what I eat in a day” and while those videos are great for finding new recipes or ideas, by no means should you ever copy their diet because each diet is designed for a specific goal, a specific body, and lifestyle.
So, today I decided to write about this topic that many of us have wondered at some point. So, if your goal is to get fit and shredded then stay tuned!
But first, let’s see what dictates our caloric needs:
- Your sex
In general, men have less body fat and more muscle than women of the same age and weight, which means that men burn more calories.
- Your age
As we age, so does our metabolic age. This means that the older we get, the fewer calories we burn at rest. However, that depends on various other components that make our metabolism, such as the ones that follow the list.
- Your height
The taller the person is the more calories it requires to be alive and fuel their daily needs. Shorter people typically have less lean mass than their taller counterparts. Lean mass consists of tissues, muscles, bones, and organs, etc. Thus, lean muscle mass affects our basal metabolic rate (BMR), which determines how many calories the body burns at rest. The more lean mass, the more calories we burn.
- Your weight
The same principle that applies to height applies to weight. However, note that the key component here is LEAN body mass, not fat. Therefore, muscle burns more calories than fat at rest. Thus, the heavier you are, the more calories you require. Especially if a great part of that weight comes from lean body mass, like muscle.
- Your level of activity
It is no news that the more active you are throughout the day, the more calories you’ll burn at the end of the day. Compare an office worker who sits 8 hrs a day in front of a computer with a bartender who is constantly walking table to table. However, this is a factor that you can control. If your job does not allow you to move much, make sure to exercise daily, walk, park your car further, and take the stairs. These small, but highly effective alternatives can go a long way.
- Your hormones
Your hormones dictate how fast or slow your metabolism is, regardless of sex, age, height, and weight. You may be a tall man with lots of muscle and still have a slow metabolism if your hormones are out of balance. Diseases that affect the thyroid gland, like hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease, can cause your metabolism to slow down massively. Thus, if you suspect you may have hormonal imbalances, check with your doctor.
- Your lifestyle
Suppose you don’t eat a healthy diet, enough fiber, and sleep well. In that case, your hormones can become imbalanced, thus affecting your metabolism.
- Your body composition
Again, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. So, grab your dumbbells and start lifting more!
How many calories should you eat?
Now that you know the “ingredients” that make up how many calories we burn, it is time to see how much we should eat.
The number of calories you should eat a day depending on your goals. If your goal is to lose weight, you will have to be on a slight caloric deficit (meaning you eat less than what you burn), but if your goal is to gain weight or build muscle, you’ll need a slight caloric surplus. And, if you’re happy where you are, you need to eat at a maintenance level.
According to the NSCA, the total number of calories you burn per day depends on:
- Level of physical activity
- Metabolic rate
- Body composition
So, let’s break these down:
Level of physical activity:
AL 1: If you are always in bed.
AL 2: Office worker and without physical activity.
AL 3: Office worker and occasionally standing or walking.
AL 4: Professional activity standing up or in constant movement. And exercise at least 2-3 days a week.
AL 5: Person who exercises at least 150 minutes weekly.
Metabolism is influenced by both your lean mass and physical activity. Increasing both raises the metabolism. So, grab those weights! I recommend training at least 150 minutes per week, at least 1 hour, 3 days a week.
A simple way to know how many calories you should consume to maintain your weight is:
If you are a woman, multiply your weight in kilos by 22:
If you exercise daily, add 250 calories. And those are the approximate calories you should eat per day.
Example: Weight 60 kilos
60 x 22 = 1320 daily calories to maintain your weight if you do not exercise. And if you exercise daily add 250, which leaves a total of: 1600.
There are also good calorie calculators online, like this one. However, my suggestion is to check with a professional. If you do not understand how metabolism works and do not have certain things in mind, it can even be damaging.
The best conclusion I can come up with is:
1) Grab those weights NOW
2) Prioritize nutritious foods
3) Always consult with an expert before you begin any new plan.
And, if you need my help you can always contact me by booking your FREE 30 mins call here, I’m happy to help!