What is the recommended dietary calorie intake a person should consume daily?
To recommend the dietary calorie intake of a person, various factors should be considered, including the person’s age, sex, height, weight, and level of physical activity. In addition, a need to lose, maintain, or gain weight and other factors affect how many calories should be consumed. Due to reductions in basal metabolic rate that occur with aging, calorie needs generally decrease for adults as they age. Estimated needs for young children range from 1,000 to 2,000 calories per day, and the range for older children and adolescents varies substantially from 1,400 to 3,200 calories per day, with boys generally having higher calorie needs than girls. These are only estimates, and approximations of individual calorie needs can be aided with online tools such as those available at www.supertracker.usda.gov.
What Are Calories?
A calorie is a unit that measures energy. Calories are usually used to measure the energy content of foods and beverages. To lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than your body burns each day.
Calories are a measure of how much energy food or drink contains. The amount of energy you need will depend on:
- your age – for example, growing children and teenagers may need more energy
- your lifestyle – for example, how active you are
- your size – your height and weight can affect how quickly you use energy
Other factors can also affect how much energy you burn. For example:
- some hormones (chemicals produced by the body) – such as thyroid hormones
- some medications – such as glucocorticoids, a type of steroid used to treat inflammation
To maintain a healthy weight, you need to balance the amount of calories you consume through food and drink with the amount of calories you burn through physical activity. To lose weight in a healthy way, you need to use more energy than you consume by eating a healthy, balanced diet with fewer calories while increasing your physical activity.
1. Eating More Protein Can Reduce Appetite, Cut Cravings and Increase the Number of Calories You Burn
When it comes to losing weight, protein is the king of nutrients. Adding protein to your diet is the simplest, most effective and most delicious way to lose weight with minimal effort.
Studies show that protein both increases your metabolic rate and helps curb your appetite. Because protein requires energy to metabolize, a high-protein diet can increase calories burned by 80–100 calories per day. Protein is also by far the most filling nutrient. One study showed that people who ate 30% of calories as protein automatically ate 441 fewer calories per day.
In other words, you can easily increase calories out and reduce calories in just by adding protein to your diet. If you want to lose weight sustainably and with minimal effort, consider making a permanent increase in your protein intake, not only will it help you lose, it will also prevent or at least significantly reduce weight regain, in case you ever decide to abandon your weight loss efforts.
2. Avoid Sugary Soft Drinks and Fruit Juices
Another relatively easy change you can make is to eliminate liquid sugar calories from your diet.
This includes sodas, fruit juices, chocolate milk and other beverages with added sugar. These products are likely the most fattening aspect of the modern diet, as your brain doesn’t register liquid calories in the same way as solid calories.
Studies have shown that sugary drinks are strongly linked to an increased risk of obesity, with one study in children showing a 60% increased risk for each daily serving of a sugar-sweetened beverage. Though small amounts of natural sugars from foods like fruit are absolutely fine, large amounts from added sugar and sugary drinks can be an absolute disaster.
3. Drinking More Water Can Aid Weight Loss
One very simple trick to increase weight loss is to drink more water. This can increase the number of calories you burn for up to 90 minutes. Drinking about 8 glasses (equal to 68 ounces or 2 liters) of water per day can make you burn about 96 more calories.
However, the timing of when you drink water may be even more important, as having it before meals can help reduce hunger and make you automatically eat fewer calories. When combined with a healthy diet, drinking more water (especially before meals) does appear to be helpful if you need to lose weight.
4. Exercise and Lift Weights
When we eat fewer calories, our bodies compensate by saving energy, making us burn less. This is why long-term calorie restriction can significantly reduce metabolism.
Not only that, but it can also lead to loss of muscle mass. Muscle is metabolically active, so this can reduce metabolism even further. The only proven strategy to prevent this effect is to exert your muscles by lifting weights.
This has been repeatedly shown to prevent muscle loss and stops your metabolism from slowing down during long-term calorie restriction. Of course, if you’re trying to lose weight, you don’t want to just lose fat, you also want to make sure that what is beneath also looks good.
Doing some cardio like walking, swimming or jogging can also be important — not necessarily for weight loss but for optimal health and general wellbeing.
5. Reduce Carbohydrate Intake, Especially Refined Carbs and Sugars
Cutting carbs is a very effective way to lose weight, as it reduces appetite and makes you eat fewer calories automatically.
Studies have shown that eating a low-carb diet until fullness can make you lose about 2–3 times more weight than a calorie-restricted, low-fat diet. Not only that, but low-carb diets also have many other benefits for health, especially for people with type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome. But you don’t have to go low-carb. Simply ensure that you eat quality, fiber-rich carbohydrate sources, focusing on whole, single-ingredient foods.