Calories are important. If you eat too many you won’t maintain a healthy body weight. Cutting back can help you lose weight. Eating too few can leave you lacking in energy. Most people need to better educate themselves about how many calories they need, how many they consume and how many they burn. For example:
Most women need about 1800 to 2000 calories daily and most men 2200 to 2400 calories. Once you reach the age of 50, this number drops to about 1600 calories for women and 2000 calories for men. If you sit on your butt all day, your calorie needs are even lower. If you’re very active, you need more calories. How much more depends on how active you are. Walking for half an hour (at a rate of 3 ½ miles/hour) burns about 140 calories. Running for half an hour (at a rate of 5 miles/hour) burns about 295 calories.
If you eat three meals and three snacks daily, this is how your calorie needs might breakdown:
Women: 400 to 500 calories per meal, 150 calories per snack
Men: 500 to 600 calories per meal, 150 to 220 calories per snack
* These numbers can be used as a guideline when reading food labels and looking up calorie counts.
Knowing how many calories are in the foods you eat is important. The calories you drink count too! Keeping a food diary or journal can assist you. Restaurant meals are especially important, as calorie counts are often higher than you anticipate. Many restaurants list the nutritional content of their food online. Compare these numbers to your recommended daily intake. For example, if you went to Starbuck’s and had a Strawberry Smoothie, it contains 300 calories or the equivalent of two snacks worth of calories. If you also had a Zucchini Walnut Muffin, it comes in at 490 calories or the equivalent of one meal’s worth of calories.
If you want to lose weight, reduce your food intake by about 300 calories daily and increase the amount of activity you get. Ideally, aim for one hour or more of activity that is of moderate to high intensity, like brisk walking.
If you want to track your calories or activity, here are some websites that will help you to do so:
If you want an app you can download onto your phone to track your calories and/or your activity consider: eaTipster, My Food, Juice, Calorie Count, Calorie Tracker, Lose It or My Fitness Pal
Calories count. Educate yourself about calorie needs, calories in food and calories burned in activity. Learn to manage your calories well.