Determining how many calories you need to lose, to maintain or to gain weight can be tricky. Your weight, age, general lifestyle and activity level all come into play. You also need to consider exercise when determining proper caloric intake. Too few calories may cause unhealthy weight loss or even stall your metabolism, while too many calories can cause you to gain unwanted pounds.
Basal Metabolic Rate
Proper caloric intake starts by determining your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is the total number of calories your body uses to function at rest. The Fitness website says your weight, age and overall activity level will all impact the BMR. While the equation is quite complex, online calculators, such as the one at the Health Discovery website, make it easy to determine your BMR.
Exercise impacts your proper caloric intake in two different ways. An active lifestyle increases your overall metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories even when you are at rest. Exercise also burns calories while you are engaged in it. Your total number of calories burned needs to be factored into your daily caloric needs.
Calories and Weight
One pound of body weight equals 3,500 calories. If you cut 3,500 calories from the number of calories required to maintain weight, you will lose 1 lb. If you eat 3,500 calories more than you need, you can expect to gain 1 lb. Knowing how many calories you need to maintain your weight is key to knowing how many calories you require to lose weight. You can track your daily calories using an easy online calorie counter, like the one at the Daily Plate website.
While cutting calories is the key to weight loss, cutting too many calories is not healthy. Typically, women should choose a 1,200-to-1,800 calorie-a-day diet to achieve an appropriate weight loss of 1 lb. to 2 lbs. per week. Men should aim for a slightly higher total caloric intake when trying to lose weight.
As far as your body is concerned, a calorie is a calorie, whether it is lettuce or chocolate. If you need to keep your calories down, choosing low-calorie, high-fiber foods can keep you fulfilled and comfortable while still eating within a proper caloric intake for your body. This is true whether you are looking to maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight.