Calories – How Much Do You Need?

Need calories explained? A calorie is simply a measure of heat energy. Because food releases energy as it burns inside the body, the more calories a food contains, the more energy it will release.

Body-fat is stored energy, much like a reserve gas tank for your car.

Think of your body’s calorie balance much like your bank account. When the amount of calories intake in a day is equal to the amount of energy you consume, nothing changes – the account stays the same.

When your caloric expenditure exceeds your calorie intake, however, your body-fat balance decreases. Conversely, when calorie intake exceeds your expenditure you will add calories in the form of fat.

This may seem obvious but it underscores a fundamental truth about nutrition:

Calories Count

You cannot outsmart this fact by cutting carbs to lose weight or increasing protein to build muscle. Regardless of what else you do, you simply must get the calorie balance right in order to maintain a healthy level of body-fat.

Balance Your Calories

To gain muscular weight you need to consume more calories than you burn. However, be aware that eating too much of anything will put weight on your body.

So, it doesn’t matter how healthy a food is, if you overindulge in it, you will put on weight, mainly in the form of fat. Even an excessive amount of protein will be stored as fat if it is in excess of the body’s requirements.

If you maintain a caloric deficit, however, you can enjoy a treat from time to time without piling on the Kilos.

Limit Portion Size

Often people choose the right foods in the correct ratios and eat them at the right times; yet they still see their scale weight creeping up. The reason is simply because they are eating too much.

The Western diet is way too calories dense. Our portion sizes are exorbitant. In fact, the size of the average Australian dinner plate has virtually doubled in the past 50 years.

It’s no coincidence then, that the size of their waistlines has done the same thing. To limit portion size, people need to actually purchase smaller plates! Also, slow down when eating. Listen to your body and let it dictate how much you should be eating.

How Many Calories?

Not all calories are created equal. In order to optimally fuel your body, make sure that the calories that go down your throat primarily consist of complex carbs, lean proteins and fats.

In order to maintain your current weight, your calorie intake should be approx <1,600 calories if you are a woman and approx <2,000 calories if you are a man. These figures are for active individuals (Medium levels of exercise)

The amount of calories you should consume is dependant on your activity levels and relative size.

Obviously if you are sedentary then 1,600 calories (woman) per day will make you gain weight and the same goes for men with 2,000 calories per day, So those that choose a sedentary lifestyle with little or no activity should look towards consuming less in the way of food/calories.

To lose weight, drop 500 calories from your calorie intake per day below your maintenance level. Over a week that will equate to 3,500 calories and approx half a kilo of weight loss. If you desire to build muscle mass increase by >250 calories focusing on lean protein as your preferred calorie source.