Calorie counting is seldom fun and often stressful, especially when trying to lose weight.
There are also mixed opinions on whether it actually does lead to positive dietary changes and effective, maintained weight loss and management.
And while many of us try to operate within the recommended calorie guidelines for our age and gender, we can still sometimes wind up putting on a few pounds here and there, leading us to consider making changes to our diet and how much we consume.
But can consuming less calories than our recommended intake really make us lose weight?
Recommended Calorie Intake
Depending on your age, and whether you are male or female, there are certain recommendations regarding how many calories you should be consuming throughout a 24 hour period.
If you are an adult male, then experts recommend that you consume around 2500 calories a day.
Men generally require more calories a day than women, due in part to their (generally) larger, taller frames, but also because of the ways that men store and burn fat.
Men usually have a more localized fat storage system, and hold onto fat far less than the average woman, based on evolutionary factors surrounding pregnancy and environmental factors.
The recommended daily calorie intake for an adult female tends to be around 2000 calories.
Due to women generally being shorter than men, and having smaller frames, they usually require less calories to function and thrive.
Women also store more fat than men do, something that is an evolutionary trait designed for sustaining unborn children (and them) during pregnancy.
Calorie Intake & Age
The way our bodies function changes drastically as we age.
As we age, our bodies lose muscle mass, and increase fat storage, meaning that eating and exercising the same way at 40 as you did at 30 might not work the same way, leading to weight gain.
Similarly, as we have reduced muscular activity, the amount of food we need to consume usually decreases. However, many continue to eat as they always have, leading to weight gain as they get older.
Calories & Weight Management
The human body is a fascinating thing, but while operating with the same, basic criteria, they can all function quite differently.
2000 Calories A Day
Some might wonder why, if they are consuming within the recommended calorie range for their age and gender, why they are not losing, or at least maintaining, their body weight.
This is where the above statements really come into play, in that different people are a swirl of different, complex environmental and biological factors, all of which affect the way our bodies store and burn fat.
The best way is to first assess your own metabolic rate, and this can tell you how to proceed, and how many calories you need to consume and still lose weight.
Calculating Basal Metabolic Rate
While the general human body requires around 2000 calories to properly function, calculating your basal metabolic rate (or BMR) can help you figure out where you fit in the wider figures.
If you are a man, then the calculation is: 66 + (6.23 x weight in lbs) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years).
If you are a woman, then the calculation is: 655 + (4.35 x weight in lbs) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years).
You then need to run this alongside your lifestyle. If you don’t exercise, then times the end result by 1.2 to get your daily calorie requirement.
If you exercise once or twice a week, or indeed have a job that requires manual labor, then times the end result by 1.375 to get the end result. Likewise, if you exercise frequently during the week, then multiply it by 1.725.
For those who work out non stop during the week, multiply your end result by 1.9 to find your results.
Consuming Vs Burning Calories
To effectively lose weight, you need to burn existing calories as well as counting the calories you take in.
Strictly regulating what you eat can be difficult, particularly in social settings or work situations. It’s also not very fun, and can quite easily strip any joy usually associated with food.
By creating a deficit through exercise, you can still consume 2000 calories, or as many as you like in fact, but you need to put in sufficient work to ensure you are burning existing calories.
Creative Calorie Burning
When done correctly, exercise can be a fun process, and when this is the case, losing weight feels like less work.
Research different exercise regimes, or look for new classes or activities to add variation to your week.
The important thing is to turn exercise into your friend, not your enemy, and with this positive change of perspective, weight loss will follow.
However, the most important thing is not to lose too much weight, or indeed reduce your calorie intake to a degree that is unsafe.
Any diet that goes under 800 calories a day is problematic, and can mean your body goes into starvation mode.
Many think this will make them lose weight, but under these dire circumstances, the body actually retains fat to protect you, meaning that weight loss is harder when not eating.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about the relationship between calories and weight loss.
The important thing is to do your research, learn the facts about your own metabolism, and plan a regimen accordingly.
And if you are unsure, seek the advice of a medical professional. They will be more than equipped to point you in the right direction, or give you helpful tips about health, nutrition, and losing weight the right way.