Eating is a necessary and enjoyable part of life. Many people say food is love. However, the purpose of food is fuel for the body, and one of the most important chemicals that your body uses is a calorie. We will look further into calories and how many we need to function.
What Is a Calorie?
Calories are units of measurement that indicate how much energy a food provides for the body. The more calories you eat, the more energy your body will use up.
A calorie deficit is when you consume fewer calories than you burn, and a calorie surplus is when there are more calories consumed than burned.
To lose weight, eat fewer calories than your body burns while exercising so that you enter a calorie deficit. There are many ways to reduce the number of calories in your diet, such as eating less food or not eating foods with added sugar.
How Many Calories Should I Eat a Day?
According to the American Heart Association, you should use up as many calories as you take in. The amount of calories that different people need to consume every day depends on several factors, including age, size, gender, and activity level. Individual metabolism also affects calorie requirements.
The right amount of calories for each person will vary depending on your activity level and metabolism.
What Is a Good Calorie Intake Per Day?
According to WebMD, the average man requires between 2,000-3,000 calories per day to maintain his weight. On the other hand, very active men (like athletes) may need up to 3,000 to 4,500 calories per day.
Women need an average of 1,600-2,400 calories per day to maintain weight. Active women may need between 2,200-2,800 calories per day.
Calories to Lose Weight
To lose weight, the average man in his 40s who is 5’9″ and weighs 154 pounds should eat between 1,800 and 2,200 calories per day.
The average woman in her 40s who is 5’4″ should eat between 1,600 and 2,000 calories per day to lose weight.
When trying to lose weight, remember that the body needs more than just a calorie deficit for weight loss. It also requires exercise and a nutritionally balanced diet full of healthy foods. For some, cutting out sugar from their daily diet can help them reach their goal faster.
How Many Calories Should Babies Have?
According to KidsHealth.org, babies have specific calorie needs based on their age and weight. Parents should discuss appropriate meals with a pediatrician or a registered dietitian for each child.
Infants require about 35-50 calories per pound of body weight each day.
How Many Calories Should an Elderly Person Have?
Many elderly people have a hard time digesting food and absorbing nutrients. They also might need fewer calories than younger adults due to decreased physical activity.
The average daily calorie intake for healthy elders is about 1,800-2,200 per day for women and 2,000-2,400 for men.
How Many Calories Should A Pregnant Woman Have?
The average number of calories a woman should eat per day while pregnant is 300-350 more than normal.
Where Should I Get My Calories?
The number of calories you consume should consist primarily of complex carbohydrates, such as starchy vegetables and whole grains. You should also make a third of your diet protein-based foods like meat, fish, poultry, beans, and milk products.
There are healthy fats to include in your daily diets, such as olive oil and canola oil. You should also get a small amount of healthy unsaturated fats from foods like fish, olives, nuts, and avocados.
Lastly, you need to avoid trans fat from foods that have partially hydrogenated oils added to them. Like saturated fat, trans fat raises the level of cholesterol in your blood.
The American Heart Association (AHA) has recommendations on where to get your calories from. Healthy foods to eat every day include the following:
- Vegetables and fruits high in potassium, such as bananas
- Whole grains, like oatmeal
- Starchy vegetables, including sweet potatoes
- Fatty fish like salmon
Other healthy foods to consume daily include lean protein sources like beans and eggs, unsaturated fats from foods like nuts and avocados, and low-fat dairy products.
The best way to approach your calorie consumption is to aim for a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats with each meal.
What Foods Have the Lowest Calories?
These are some of the lowest-calorie foods you can eat every day:
- Apples – 62 to 103 calories
- Grapefruit – 88 calories
- Strawberries – 85 calories
- Popcorn – 31 calories per cup
- Carrots – 25 calories per cup
Are There Foods With Zero Calories?
Yes, some substances contain zero calories. These foods include water and black coffee. There are other calorie-free products such as sugar substitutes and food coloring. A zero-calorie diet is not recommended as the body needs vitamins and minerals to function.
What Foods Have the Most Calories?
Let’s be honest, some of the highest calorie foods taste delicious. However, such foods may be loaded with fat and lack essential nutrients. These foods include ice cream, macaroni & cheese, chocolate cake, brownies, milkshakes, bacon cheeseburgers, fried chicken sandwiches with mayonnaise-based sauces or dressings.
Five high-calorie foods you should only eat sparingly:
- Steak – 569 calories per 4 ounces
- Gatorade Whey Protein Bar – 458 calories
- Sourdough Bread – 386 calories for two slices
- Whole Milk – 150 calories per cup
- French Fries – 182+ calories per cup
In conclusion, the best way to improve your health and lose weight is to eat a variety of healthy foods from all food groups. This can be done by reducing calorie intake, exercising regularly, and drinking plenty of water every day.
Use a calorie calculator to determine how many calories you should consume in a day based on gender, age, fitness level.