According to the NHS, the recommended daily calorie intake is 2,000 calories a day for women and 2,500 for men.
This is a rough estimate as the amount of calories you should eat in a day depends on a lot of variables. Age, activity level, weight, and height all play a role in how many calories you need to support your body.
The average sedentary adult needs about 2,000 calories per day just to maintain their current weight. However, if you're trying to lose weight, you'll need to eat fewer calories than that. And if you're trying to gain weight, you'll need to eat more.
Caloric Intake Per Day for Weight Loss
If you're trying to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit by eating fewer calories than your body needs. For most people, this means cutting 500-750 calories per day. This can be accomplished by reducing portion sizes, eating more nutrient-dense foods (like fruits and vegetables), and cutting back on processed foods and sugary drinks.
Calories Daily to Gain Weight
If you're trying to gain weight, you need to eat more calories than your body burns. For most people, this means adding 250-500 calories per day. The best way to do this is by increasing your portion sizes and eating more nutrient-dense foods (like protein-rich meats and healthy fats). You should also make sure that you're getting enough sleep each night, as this can help boost your metabolism.
Nutrition in a Calorie Deficit
The simplest way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than you burn. This is called a calorie deficit. When you create a calorie deficit, your body is forced to burn stored body fat for energy. However, many people struggle to create a calorie deficit because they underestimate how many calories they consume on a daily basis.
Here are some tips for creating a calorie deficit:
Track Your Calorie Intake
The first step to creating a calorie deficit is to track your intake. Many apps and websites can help you do this, such as MyFitnessPal or LoseIt!
Simply enter your height, weight, age, and activity level, and these apps will estimate how many calories you need per day to maintain your current weight. Then, you can begin tracking the foods and drinks you consume each day to see how many calories you're taking in. Remember to be honest with yourself—it's easy to underestimate how much food you're eating or the number of drinks you've had.
Eat to Lose
Once you know how many calories you're consuming daily, you can begin to create a deficit. For most people, a deficit of 500 calories per day is a good place to start. This can be accomplished by reducing your calorie intake or increasing your activity level (or both!).
For example, if you typically eat 2,000 calories per day, you could reduce your intake to 1,500 calories per day and create a 500-calorie deficit. Or, if you typically eat 2,000 calories per day and burn 500 calories through exercise, you would also create a 500-calorie deficit.
If you struggle to reduce your calorie intake or find that you're always hungry when you do try to diet, then increasing your activity level may be a better option for you. By burning more calories through exercise, you can create the same 500-calorie deficit needed for weight loss without having to constantly feel deprived.
Dining out can be a minefield for anyone trying to stay on track with their healthy eating goals. Whether you're watching your calorie intake, trying to eat more (or less) of certain nutrients, or just generally trying to make better choices, it's not always easy to find options when you're eating out.
But never fear! With a little planning and effort, it is possible to dine out healthily.
Here are some tips to help you make the best choices when you're eating out.
1. Do your research ahead of time.
When you know where you'll be dining ahead of time, take a look at the menu online and see what healthy options are available. This way, you can go into the meal knowing what you want to order and you won't be tempted by less healthy choices. If the restaurant doesn't have a website or online menu, give them a call and ask about healthier options.
2. Ask about nutrition information.
most restaurants are required by law to provide nutrition information upon request. This includes calories, fat content, sodium levels, and more. Asking for this information can help you make an informed decision about what to order.
3. Make smart substitutions.
If there's something on the menu that sounds good but isn't necessarily the healthiest choice, see if the restaurant will let you make a substitution. For example, ask for grilled chicken instead of fried chicken, or request steamed vegetables instead of French fries. In most cases, restaurants are happy to accommodate these kinds of requests.
4. Avoid temptations.
If there are certain foods that you know you can't resist (we all have our weaknesses!), try to avoid them altogether by ordering something else entirely or asking the waiter to remove them from your plate before they reach the table. Out of sight, out of mind!
Eating to Maintain Your Weight
Now that you know how many calories you need, the next step is knowing what kinds of foods to eat to get those calories. The best way to do this is to make sure you're getting a variety of nutrients from different food groups. The United States Department of Agriculture's MyPlate program is a great resource for finding out which foods belong in which food groups and how much of each food group you should be eating each day.
Here's a quick overview of the different food groups and how they can help you maintain a healthy weight:
Fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are important for good health. They are also low in calories, so they can help you feel full without adding a lot of extra calories to your diet. Aim for 2-3 cups of fruits and vegetables per day.
Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, which can help keep you feeling full and may help reduce the risk of conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Aim for 3-5 ounces of whole grains per day.
Protein provides essential nutrients like amino acids that your body needs for growth and repair. It can also help keep you feeling full longer than other types of food. Aim for 5-6 ounces of protein per day from lean sources like chicken, fish, or tofu.
Dairy products are a good source of calcium, which is important for strong bones and teeth. They can also help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight because they contain a type of fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been shown to boost metabolism and decrease body fat accumulation. Aim for 3 cups per day (fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese).
Fat should be limited in your diet because it is high in calories; however, some types of fat are necessary for good health (like omega-3 fatty acids). Choose leaner cuts of meat when possible and cook with healthy oils like olive oil instead of butter or margarine. Avoid processed meats like bacon and sausage as much as possible.