How Many Calories Should You Be Eating

How Many Calories Should You Be Eating?

I dunno. How many do you wanna eat?
Okay, so that was a joke, but eventually, it’ll be the right answer. When all your hormones fire right and you’re filling yourself with healthy, whole foods, your body will tell you the right amount to eat. Unfortunately, our culture has become particularly skilled at overriding our natural indicators, which is why 30% of us are obese. So, on your road back to your ideal weight, you’ll probably want to apply a little math in the form of counting calories. (I’ve divided this answer into two parts. If you want to geek out about calories, read the whole thing. If you don’t care what a calorie is and just want to know how many to consume, skip down to the second part.)
The part where I tell you what a calorie is and how it applies to you.A calorie (or kilocalorie, as it’s officially called) is a unit of measurement given to the amount of energy your body generates from the food you eat. Think of it in terms of kilowatts or horsepower. When you put an 80-calorie apple under a microscope, you won’t see a bunch of little calories floating around in there. However, if you put your apple in a fancy piece of lab equipment called a bomb calorimeter, you could burn it up and the calorimeter would tell you how much energy was discharged—in the form of calories.
Nerdy aside: Calories can also be used to measure other expenditures of energy, including explosions. A modern nuclear bomb releases 1,000,000,000,000 calories—only slightly more than your average meal at Olive Garden.
In the human body, this energy is used for all your daily functions, including breathing, talking, digesting, walking, heart-beating and, of course, working out. However, we’re an efficient race (at least, on the inside), so if you consume more calories than you burn, it doesn’t shoot out of your ears as steam or anything like that. Instead, the body turns it into adipose tissues (body fat) to be converted to energy at some future date. In other words, when you eat more calories than you burn, you put on fat. This is the case whether you’re eating carbs, fat, or protein.
Conversely, when you eat fewer calories than you expend, your body taps into those reserves and you burn fat, most of the time. This is called having a calorie deficit. However, you don’t want that calorie deficit to be too large, or a number of undesirable things might happen. In addition to tapping your fat stores, your body might start breaking down lean body mass (muscle) for fuel. Or your body might simply slow down your metabolism so that you burn fewer calories in general, much like you might dim lights in your home to conserve energy. So, with the exception of short-term practices, like jump-start diets, fasts, or cleanses, it’s generally a good idea not to let your calorie deficit drop below 500 calories a day.
The part where I (finally) tell you how many calories are right for you.
• Sedentary lifestyle (desk job): Current weight in pounds x 12 = Maintenance Caloric Needs.
• Moderately active lifestyle (server in a restaurant and/or doing one of our entry level programs: Current weight in pounds x 13 = Maintenance Caloric Needs.
• Highly active lifestyle (construction worker  Current weight in pounds x 14 = Maintenance Caloric Needs.
From there, subtract 500 calories and that’s probably a good deficit for weight loss. (But make sure that number stays about 1,200. Anything lower can be dangerous in the long term.) Conversely, if you’re trying to gain muscle mass, add 300 calories or so—but make sure you’re also doing a solid weight lifting program like Body Beast so those calories have a place to go.
Sometimes, people micromanage these numbers by increasing or decreasing daily calorie intake based on the activities for the day. Don’t do this. Unless you’re hooked up to millions of dollars worth of monitoring equipment, you’ll probably get those numbers wrong anyway. Your best bet is to account for exercise in broad strokes, like the calculations above.
With that in mind, whichever calculation you follow, don’t get married to the numbers. I know it feels official, with all those digits and equations and such, but even the most complex calorie equation will miss countless factors. Ethnicity. Air temperature. Illness. How hard you exercise that day. Stress. Unexplained shifts in your metabolism. Hormone imbalances, etc.
So use that number, which will probably fall somewhere between 1,800 and 3,000 calories, as a starting point. If it works, swell. Hold steady until it stops working. If it doesn’t work, don’t panic; you just need to experiment a little to find your sweet spot. Try dropping another 300 calories for 7 to 10 days. If that doesn’t work, increase your calories (beyond your original number) by 300 for 7 to 10 days. If you’re still not getting any love, come on over to the Team Beachbody Message Boards, where our friendly advice staff and coaching community will be able to throw your diet up on the racks to find the issue.
On a final note, keep in mind that not all calories are created equal. You generally need to do a little more than just hit your calorie deficit to lose weight in a healthy fashion. If your low-calorie diet is packed with refined sugars and flours, it might be wreaking havoc on your insulin, which can inhibit results. If you’re lowballing protein, you might not be giving your body the amino acids it needs to repair muscle. Again, results will be hindered. If you’re eating a really fatty diet, fat is more caloric by volume than protein and carbs, so you might be badly miscalculating, which (say it with me) can also hinder results. So an important key to weight management is to eat a healthy, balanced diet. More on that in the next issue.

Drink up!! #water and why it’s so important on your weight loss journey!! 

One of the most important things you can do for better nutrition and a successful diet is to drink enough water. Learn about water’s vital role in your diet and in helping you lose weight.
There are many reasons why it’s important to drink water, especially while losing weight.
  • The process of burning calories requires an adequate supply of water in order to function efficiently; dehydration slows down the fat-burning process.
  • Burning calories creates toxins (think of the exhaust coming out of your car), and water plays a vital role in flushing them out of your body.
  • Dehydration causes a reduction in blood volume; a reduction in blood volume causes a reduction in the supply of oxygen to your muscles; and a reduction in the supply of oxygen to your muscles can make you feel tired.
  • Drinking water reduces water retention. People often believe that drinking water can lead to increased fluid retention. However, it is just the opposite. The more water that you drink, your body knows that it will continue to receive an adequate supply, and therefore has no need to store it.
  • Water helps maintain muscle tone by assisting muscles in their ability to contract,and it lubricates your joints.Proper hydration can help reduce muscle and joint soreness when exercising.
  • Drinking water with a meal may make you feel full sooner and therefore satisfied with eating less.
How Much Water Should I Drink?
You have probably heard that you should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. How much water you actually need depends on your weight, level of activity, the temperature and humidity of your environment. On a hot day, it’s possible to lose about the equivalent of a quart of water in an hour while being active, according to the American Council on Exercise. You’ll want to drink water before, during, and after every workout.
The general recommendation is to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces. So a 180 pound person would need at least 90 ounces of water daily (more when it’s hot or if the person is active). When you drink enough water, your urine will usually be clear, or a very pale yellow. When in doubt, drink a little more.
It is possible to harm yourself by drinking too much water, but it takes quite an effort. Either through obsessive-compulsive behavior or extended athletic activity, drinking large amounts of water can dilute the electrolytes (sodium and potassium) in your blood to the point that it interferes with brain, heart and muscle function. Athletes compound the problem with the loss of sodium (salt) through sweating, but can drink electrolyte replacement drinks like Gatorade Endurance Formula to help keep things in balance.
Tips on Drinking Water
  • Drinking other liquids also provides your body with a source of water, but note that diuretics cause your body to expel water. Diuretics include caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea and soda) and alcohol. When drinking diuretics, drink more water to compensate.
  • Those who spend time away from home may take a portable water container, knowing that they need to fill and drink it four times throughout the day, for example. Others associate drinking water with routine activities throughout the day, such as drinking fluid at meals, before brushing their teeth, or after feeding the dogs.
  • Studies show that water intake is increased when drinking from a straw.
  • When you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Try to avoid this situation by drinking in advance. Be especially careful when participating in activities where you won’t be able to stop to get caught up.
You’ve heard countless advertisements telling you what product to start your day with. We recommend a couple of glasses of water to rehydrate your body. No charge.