How Much Food (Calories) Should I Eat?

The energy stored in food is measured in terms of “calories”. Generally, one calorie is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degree Centigrade (from 14.5 to 15.5) at sea level.

The “calorie” measure used commonly to discuss the energy content of food is actually a kilocalorie or 1000 real calories; this is the amount of energy required to raise one kilogram of water (about 2.2 pounds) one degree Centigrade.

Different foods can be used by the body to produce different amounts of energy – which is why a handful of nuts can have hundreds more calories than a similarly sized piece of lettuce. However, since calories are a measure of energy, there cannot be, as some diet books claim, different “types” of calories. A fat calorie has the same amount of energy as a carbohydrate calorie by definition. It’s just that a gram of nuts has 9 calories compared to 4 calories per gram for carbohydrates and proteins.

A person’s caloric need is determined using a variety of mathematical equations. Age, current weight, desired weight, and height are taken into account. However, there are numerous equations one can use to do this, which many find confusing. And, regardless of which equation you use, each will return similar caloric values. Also, the value of caloric needs you obtain are still an average. This is due to individuality, activity level, BMR (base metabolic rate), current fitness level, gender, and a number of other factors.

What’s an easy way to calculate how much energy/food I need?

One of the simplest methods is based on the Resting Daily Energy Expenditure, RDEE or REE for short. This is the amount of calories you need to intake if you do not exercise. We have also stated this in other areas of the web site so that you will become accustomed to calculating your daily needs.

If you exercise, you must add the number of calories used in the exercise to the following calculation. A list of various exercises and calories burned per duration of exercise are listed in the Burning Fat section under comparisons.

Question: How Many Calories Do I Need Each Day?

REE = Body Weight x 10 + 200.

For example, Sam weighs 200 pounds so, REE = 200 x 10 + 200 = 2200 Calories (for days he does not exercise).

Many often ask how much food they should eat. Just remember that food is calories and weight gain is simply a function of energy (food calories) in minus energy out. Following is a rule of thumb, i.e., it is an average and you must adjust it. As a rule of thumb, if you’re gaining weight, reduce caloric intake and if losing weight, add caloric intake. Try 200 Calories per day difference to go one way or the other as a beginning. If you have questions, browse other sections of MyHealthandFitness or contact us.