It is December 28. That period between Christmas and New Year when many of us continue to overeat. Just today UK news channels have been reporting that many people consume too many calories and not just at Christmas. A more sedentary lifestyle, car use and less physical work included, means that calorie advice should apparently be reduced.
So bear that in mind.
The following is a general guide to how many calories a person should consume before today's news.
Although there are general guidelines about how many calories a male or female should consume there are some variations. A lot depends on how much you already weigh and if you are overweight, if you are simply aiming to maintain your present weight, or if you want to put on or lose weight.
Trying to lose weight
The more extra weight that you carry, the higher the amount of calories you can consume initially, and still lose weight. If you are more than a couple of stone overweight you will probably start your diet at around 1500 to 1800 calories a day. This is for women and will give you a healthy, regular weight loss of a couple of pounds a week. A man would be more likely to be allowed 2000 to 2200 a day in the same situation.
It is best to allow yourself more calories at the start of a diet as, because you have more weight to carry around, you will burn off more calories daily. However, as your weight decreases, so will your calorie intake. If you have a stone or less to lose from day one of a diet then your daily intake should be around 1,000 to 1,500 a day, if you are a female, and 1,500 to 2,000 a day if you are a male. These amounts are flexible as a lot will also depend on how old you are, how tall you are and whether your life is sedentary or active.
Women should never go below 1,000 calories a day, or men below 1,500. If you lose weight with a weight loss of regular small amounts you are more likely to keep the weight off long term and also stick to your diet. A more stringent diet will be hard to maintain. Also very low calorie diets can be harmful to your health long term and you run the risk of causing yourself many health problems. Low calorie diets can also be lacking in some of the vital vitamins and nutrients that a healthy body needs to work well.
Once you have reached your target weight you should be able to follow a maintenance diet. This will mean that you keep an eye on your weight and calorie intake without being too strict. Having had the struggle to lose weight you don't want to put the weight straight back on, do you? Usually a maintenance diet will be about 250 calories more than when you were dieting.
Over the following weeks and months you will be able to monitor your weight and adjust your daily calorie intake increasing the amount of calories, if and when necessary.
Trying to put weight on
For all of us who struggle with keeping our weight down this one is hard to understand. However, there are people who desperately want to gain weight and just cannot seem to. A skinny friend, whose body I envied when young, used to try and put on weight eating extra rich foods. Obviously her metabolism could cope and she never gained any weight despite her best efforts. Of course, sometimes it is that, overall, a person's calorie intake may be less than their body uses each day.
However, the principle is the same. Work out what would be the ideal amount of calories you should consume in a day by looking at your height, weight, levels of activity and age. There are many books which may help you work this out and there are Internet sites where you can put in your details and a calorie calculator will do the calculation for you. Whatever is your ideal amount of calories a day then needs to be increased a little. It takes about an extra 3,500 calories just to gain one pound. As you can see you will need to be patient and monitor your weight making any calorie adjustments necessary.
Normal amount of calories daily
The amount of calories a day which are right for you is very personal. Every person's metabolism is different. However you can increase your activity to burn off extra calories. What is usually classed as the average amount of calories just to maintain your weight is often 1,800 to 2,000 for a woman and 2,000 to 2,500 for a man.
You can find an Internet calculation which is supposed to enable you to determine the correct amount of daily calories for you. It is:
These calculations, when the energy expanded during physical activity and the thermic effect of food is included, will give you your Base Metabolic Rate. Clear as mud I know.
As one website says for most people these calculations are too confusing. They then give an easier formula:-
If you follow the general guidelines, for the amount of calories which you need to consume daily, and you find that you put weight on, for example, then cut down your calories intake a little. As individuals we are all so different that there are really no hard and fast correct amounts for calorie intake a day, just what's right for you.
Please remember that any unexplained weight loss or weight gain should always be investigated by a doctor just to rule out health problems, such as a Thyroid disorder.