Figuring out how many calories you need to be consuming daily for optimal health and weight control can be tricky business. Many factors come into play including your level of physical activity, life stresses, sleep quality, history of chronic diseases, and your bio-individualistic genetic predispositions. While it's almost impossible to know exactly how many calories you should be consuming daily, there are ways to estimate to give you a good idea of what your calorie goals should be.
For the averagesedentaryperson, a formula to use to figure out your "basement" calorie target ( thelowest amount of calories you should ever be eating) is to multiply your "ideal" body weight by 10. This calculation doesn't take into account frame size or muscle mass, so you'll need to be honest with yourself about what your healthy ideal weight is. I'll use myself as an example here (you're welcome ;)). I'm 5'7" and have an ideal body weight of 145lbs. I have a dense frame and carry a lot of muscle :) My basement calorie intake should be no less than 1450 calories on a sedentary day. So, on a day when I'm sitting at my desk, writing articles, researching, and thinking about food, and doing nothing else, in order to maintain my health, I need to consumeat least 1450 calories.
Because we are all exercising regularly, we needmuch more than the sedentary day, basement calorie number. We need to consume food not only to perform, but to maintain health and avoid injury and illness. To find an optimal calorie target for an active day, you need to take into account what activity you are doing, how many calories you're burning during that activity, and add that to your basement calorie need. This new number is youroptimal calorie target .
Different workouts will burn different amounts of calories. A strength training session can burn anywhere from 10-15 calories per minute (600-900/hr) depending on intensity , a 60 min run can burn anywhere from 600-800 calories, 400-600 calories for a 50 minute bike session, and 500-800 calories during 60 minutes of swimming. These are just some examples of activities we all engaging in on a regular basis.
The point is, our caloric needs are several hundred calories more than the basement number.
So, take me for example. Assume I go for a 60 min run and burn 750 calories. I need at least 1450+750= 2200 calories that day to keep me fueled. Again, this is my optimal calorie target, assuming I'm sedentary the rest of the day .
Many of you are pushing your bodies at a very demanding pace. Find your optimal calorie target, use that as a place to START, and adjust up as needed. Determining your caloric needs can get somewhat complicated, but if you're not consuming enough calories your body is going to breakdown and injury or illness won't be far away.
Several signs that you're not getting enough calories are:
-You're holding onto excess weight despite a calorie-restricted diet - You're blood sugar is on a roller coaster
-You are experiencing mood swings
-You can't fall asleep or stay asleep
-You experience chronic constipation
-You're always cold
-You're losing hair by the handful
I encourage you to take a hard look at your intake and take steps towards consuming a calorically appropriate, protein-rich, nutrient dense diet.