How much should you be eating? The answer to that question will be different for everyone because we are all unique individuals. We all have different metabolisms, eating habits, exercise patterns and personal goals. Yet to answer that question as best I can let’s look at the most basic concepts.
The most fundamental of questions is why do you need to eat at all? The answer is that besides needing certain materials to sustain itself your body also needs energy to function. The energy source that your body uses is stored in a chemical called ATP and that energy actually comes from the Sun. Plants capture energy during photosynthesis and that energy is then passed on to you when you eat plants or animals that have eaten plants.
Macronutrients of carbohydrates, fats and proteins contain all of the building blocks for you to be able to produce* ATP. The main point of continually eating fat, carbs or protein is so your body will convert it to ATP so that it can be used as energy.
A Calorie is a measurement of energy and the one that you see on food labels refers to the amount of energy that it would take to raise 1kg of water by 1’ Celsius. Just so you know there are 4 Calories in a gram of Carbohydrates and 4 Calories in a gram of Protein. There are 9 Calories in a gram of Fat.
Each of us has a certain amount of energy that is required by our body to sustain life. Before you have begun to exercise or even move, your body needs a certain amount of energy (Calories) to keep all of your tissues and organs functioning properly. That basic minimal amount of required energy is known as your Basil Metabolic Rate. There are a few different ways to calculate that number and below you will find the Mifflin St Jeor Equation which is the one that I find the easiest to implement.
In my case I am 39 years old, 6 feet tall (183cm) and weigh 200lbs (91kg) which works out to 1864 Calories per day.
Next question, should you be gaining or losing weight? That is often a matter of personal taste and opinion but if you are curious as to whether or not you are considered to be at a healthy weight for your height then the equation to calculate your Body Mass Index is below.
I am 200lbs (91kg) and 6 feet tall (1.83m) and I have a BMI of 27.2. That categorizes me as being overweight yet it does not factor for more muscular individuals.
To achieve your goal weight you will need to alter your energy consumption in relation to your personal metabolic requirements.
Also Read – How Many Calories Should I Eat To Lose* Weight?
If you are content with your current weight then you would want to balance the amount of energy you consume via food with the amount of total energy that you expend. (That is your basil metabolic rate plus all of the energy that you expend via exercise during the day). When that equation is kept in balance you will maintain your current weight.
If you wanted to lose* some weight then you need to expend more energy then you consume because you want your body to tap into its reserve energy supply. That reserve energy is your stored body fat. It takes 3500 Calories to lose* 1 pound of body fat or 7700 Calories to burn 1Kg. If you had a deficit of 500 Calories per day then you could expect to drop around 1 pound per week and 4 pounds per month.
Also Read – Do Diet Contribute In Muscle Building?
If you wanted to gain weight then you would need to consume more energy than you expend so that your body can store that extra energy as fat. When you consume more energy than is required by your body for your total daily expenditure then your body will store some fat and save it for a rainy day.
If you wanted to gain some new muscle then would need to add some resistance training to your exercise regimen, make sure that you have an adequate protein intake and increase* your daily consumption of energy by at least 500 Calories. The reason being that new muscle is living tissue and it will need more energy via nutrition to survive. If you are still maintaining a balanced metabolic equation then your body knows that it will be at a deficit if it adds new muscle. Mother Nature is actually quite smart and your body will not put itself into a position where your metabolic requirements cannot be sustained. Thus your body will never add new muscle unless you have an adequate amount of Calories per day to feed that new muscle growth.
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The ultimate answer to how much should you eat per day depends on your metabolism, activity level and your personal goals. Adding the Calories expended by your daily physical activity to your Basil Metabolic Rate will give you a rough idea as to how much energy your body consumes per day. Once you have that ball park figure simply adjust your energy consumption via the food that you eat accordingly.
So How much should you be Eating?
- To keep the status quo and maintain your weight, keep your caloric intake at its present level.
- To lose* weight I would recommend lowering your caloric intake by 300 to 500 Calories per day but make sure that you do not lower it more than your Basil Metabolic Rate.
- To gain muscle you will want to increase* your caloric consumption by 500 Calories per day and add some resistance training to your training regimen.