We often hear about how many calories per day people need. But how accurate are those figures? Do you know what they mean?
The first thing to understand about how many calories per day you need are the figures that you typically hear quoted are averages.
Average figures that the papers, publications and health officials use are based upon an average sized person with average energy needs - whatever that might be! Please always bear this in mind when you hear them in the future.
The reality about how many calories per day you need is that you have to take factors like how much you exercise, how much you weigh, how tall you are and more. It's different for every person.
Without boring you with a long list of detailed reasons and factors, we've pulled together the key factors that affect how many calories a day you burn :
- Your size:
It's a pretty simple equation - the bigger you are, the more energy you will burn in a day. However, the caveat on that is that what really affects this is not just total size but how much muscle you have. More of that later.
- Activity levels:
The more active you are, again, the more energy you burn. This includes a variety of factors including your activity levels at work, how often you exercise, and also if you are a person who naturally moves around a lot. Really fidgety types can burn up to 400 calories a day just in nervous energy.
Your metabolism is the real key to this process. Metabolism simply refers to the rate at which you burn energy. It is affected by how much muscle you have, and also by the frequency and intensity of your exercise. As each pound of muscle burns around 35-50 calories per hour, adding muscle is a good way to increase your metabolism, as are intense workouts. Intense workouts such as hard weight training or intervals will boost your metabolism not just while you are doing them, but for hours afterwards - even when you are relaxing in front of the TV hours later your body will still be burning up extra energy.
There are other factors and circumstances where your intake can be affected, but the examples above are the most common and cover most people.