What Are Calories?
Calories are simply units measuring the energy value of food—you need a certain number of calories to give your body energy and keep it functioning. But eating more calories than you need might result in weight gain, so it’s important not to overdo the amount of calories you eat daily.
Remember that, gram for gram, some foods are more concentrated sources of calories than others. And because fat contains more than twice the calories per gram as protein or carbohydrates, a good way to start reducing calories is to cut the fat content of foods that you make—even by just a little. Small reductions in fat content can make a big difference in calorie content, and chances are you won’t even notice the difference.
Your Daily Calorie Number
How many calories are right for you? Your daily calorie needs will depend on your age, gender and activity level—and whether you are trying to lose, gain or maintain your body weight. One key to leading a healthier lifestyle is to eat fewer calories and increase your activity level.
Here’s an easy formula to help you estimate the amount of calories you need to maintain your current weight.
For a sedentary person (inactive most of the time), multiply current weight by 12.
For a moderately active person (exercise a few times a week), multiply current weight by 14.
For a very active person (participate daily in heavy exercise), multiply current weight by 16 to 18.
For example, for a sedentary woman who weighs 140 pounds, multiply 140 by 12 to get 1,680—an estimate of the calories she may need per day to maintain her current weight. If weight loss is her goal, she would need to consume somewhat fewer than 1,680 calories per day.
Right-Sizing Food Portions
Eating well is like a two-piece puzzle. It’s about eating the right types of food in the right amounts. Without proper portion sizes, weight management can be very difficult.