Many women will admit there is a direct correlation between the amount of food they eat and the size of their thighs. Metabolic disorders aside, too many calories can result in too-tight clothes. Among the many other differences between the sexes, men and women don’t share the same requirements for caloric intake. Knowing how many calories you require may make the difference between fitting into that teeny-weeny bikini and having to wear your knee-length sarong to the beach.
The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide recommends that an average adult female who weighs about 125 lbs. and is moderately active requires about 2,000 calories per day. This differs somewhat from the 2,800 calories recommended for a 175-lb. man who has the same activity level. This is just a general guideline. The actual caloric requirements will vary, based on your individual characteristics.
You have probably heard that when you are pregnant, you’re eating for two. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are eating for two adults. Although you may be tempted to take a break from calorie counting during pregnancy, don’t make the mistake of packing pounds that you will retain long after the birth of your child. Keep in mind the size of the developing baby and adjust your caloric intake according to your doctor’s recommendations. Although a pregnant or lactating woman may need slightly more calories, while an elderly woman may require less, other factors also play an important role in determining your individual requirements when it comes to calorie consumption.
Think of calories as energy. According to the “Gale Encyclopedia of Diets,” your metabolism determines the number of calories you will burn in a day. The rate of metabolism varies depending on your activity level. The Rush University Medical Center advises that women should estimate the number of calories they need to maintain their current by multiplying their weight by 10. If you are relatively inactive, this will give you the amount of calories you need to maintain your weight. If you’re moderately active, multiply your weight by 12.
Getting the Biggest Bang for Your Buck
Not all calories are equal when it comes to nutrition. The Harvard Health Guide recommends consuming at least 15 percent of your caloric intake in lean protein and getting about 55 percent of calories in the form of carbohydrates, while keeping your fat intake below 35 percent. Consider the nutrient value of the foods you consume and reduce the amount of empty calories in your diet.
Those extra pounds around your middle might just be your body’s way of watching out for you in case you can’t make it to the grocery store, local bakery or ice cream parlor. If you are storing energy in the form of excess fat, you may need to adjust the amount of calories you consume and the amount you burn. The “Gale Encyclopedia of Diets” recommends women get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day to burn calories and increase health. If you want to gain weight, discuss good sources of calorie-dense foods with your nutritionist or medical doctor.