I’m out to dinner with some friends the other night — we were all in Florida for business and went to a really nice steakhouse. As the nutritionist in the group, it’s usually assumed that I know the calories in every single food available.
And the question came up — "how many calories are in THAT," asking about the 24 oz Porterhouse steak that was on the menu? "It’s probably half the calories I need each day!"
I knew it was high — off the charts — but didn’t know the exact "number" so to speak (for those who are curious, it’s over 1700 with over 130 grams of fat). This is especially considering it was just part of the meal — alongside garlic mashed potatoes and a veggie.
But the point is — do you know how many calories you should be eating each day?
A recent survey of over 1,000 people shows most don’t know "their number." And only 12% actually actually knew how much they should be eating…
So Do YOU know your number?
First, what is a calorie anyway? Most people know the term calories — and it’s usually talked about in the sense of "this has too many calories." Maybe they read it on a food label or hear about it somewhere else.
Very simply, a calorie is a measurement of heat.
Many foods and beverages have calories. No surprise there.
And obviously as a society we’re not doing too well in terms of controlling those calories, considering nearly 70% of Americans are overweight or obese.
It’s hard to make blanket statements since calorie needs differ from person to person. And the number is dependent on gender, age, size, and exercise. Since exercise is the one controllable factor among those listed, it’s smart to burn as much as you can through exercise. Because at the end of the day, your calories have to be in check — what you eat and drink should match how much you burn — then you will maintain weight.
When one is greater (or less than) the other, you’ll gain or lose.
The problem is that calorie counting can be tedious — is it effective? It can be. But it’s better to simply be aware of the calories in foods to help with weight control rather than painstakingly counting every single morsel you put into your mouth (although that’s sometimes smart in the early stages of weight loss to help increase awareness).
Here are some very general rules of thumb.
For weight loss and maintenance, the research suggests eating 1200-1500 calories (of course along with exercise).
For a sedentary adult female looking to maintain, it’s about 1800 calories…
…for a sedentary adult male looking to maintain, it’s about 2,220.
Was that what you thought?
They key then is what makes up those calories …
2 Big Macs and you’re downing about 1000+ calories in 1 sitting.
Or for those same 1000ish calories, you could load up on clean foods — greens, seafood, fruit, some grains, etc and get a ton more bang for your buck, so to speak.