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How Many Calories To Eat Each Day?

I realize this question has been asked before, but we got an email today from someone asking this question, and while we had some ideas, we wanted to hear what others think and what their experience has been.

When we started PT, our general thesis was people tend to know how to lose weight and get fit, but have a hard time following through. Three years later we see some weaknesses in a portion control only diet. But no question it is a critical component. So while this is ultimately an individual issue, what are your thoughts and experiences here?



Tue. May 13, 12:07pm

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I never go below 1500 calories because it leads to backlash in the form of bingeing and diet fatigue.

I'm very active, so I currently eat 11x my weight in calories (155 x 11 = 1700 calories) and lose a pound a week. For me it's the right balance between weight loss, appetite satisfaction, and sustainability.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008, 12:19 PM

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i like to mix my calories up during the week to keep my body guessing and keep it from getting bored so i range from 1200-1800(my bmr) and this way it allows me to eat what i like and have a treat at least once a week without going out of my range

Tuesday, May 13, 2008, 1:15 PM

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I find need to very strictly control my calorie intake (not low - just strict) and tweak it down a notch from by BMR + activity + exercise and then go from there.
So for me IN THEORY - at 5'11" & 175 lbs - 32 yr old male = 1840.35 is BMR x 1.725 since I work out VERY hard (intense cardio + heavy weights) 10 hours a week would indicate that I would be eating 3174.60 calories a day.

but I DON"T find that to be the case - right now my diet is about 1900 calories per day to lose a little weight and I am not overly hungry so all of these calculators seem to me to be quite misleading. I think if I ate even 2500 a day I would gain weight.

I eat mainly the same thing every day, 100-200 calorie healthy "snacks" every 2 hours and a very healthy varied dinner with a total of around 200 grams of protein. This is what works for me and I have lost about 50 pounds and kept it off and I am in the best shape of my life.

Overall my tips would be:
1. No B.S. -- to lose weight you will be a little hungry - get over it
2. To keep hunger at bay eat small healthy meals at regular intervals
3. Healthy food fills you up better
4. Do the math like the above and start there. That is usually too much food in my experience so each week you do not lose anything back off your calories per day by 100 and see if your hunger is mild - when you find a calorie level that leaves you mildly hungry LOCK IN at that caloric level.
5. A lot of people get frustrated with thier rate of weight loss so they drop their calories too low and then lose it - BE PATIENT and stick to a caloric level that is just below that threshhold you have found ! ! If you lost just 1/2 pound a week next year you will be 26 pounds lighter AND have permanently changed your lifestyle

Tuesday, May 13, 2008, 1:52 PM

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If I could make a reccomendation,
Before I joined PT I lost 40lbs (over 5 years ago). I did it through semi-dieting and exercise, knowing that it would get me to my end result, but not knowing just how to "calculate it".
Since I have put 10lbs back on, I have become much more obessesed with the numerical side of weight loss, as in what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat.
I don't know if it is possible to build in a calculator for such things as:
1 - Calculate your BMR
2 - Calculate how long it will take to lose the weight
3 - Target heart rate for weight loss

From everything I have read with a combination of resources I am supposed to consume 2079 cals / day, because I want to lose the weight, I need that 500 calorie defecit bringing it down to 1579.

I would have loved to have all of this available on PT, it would have saved me time.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008, 2:31 PM

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hey 12:19

Where is that "11x my weight in calories" idea coming from - that would be much closer to than my BMR + activity count...


Tuesday, May 13, 2008, 2:57 PM

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I was wondering the same thing. According to that calculation I would be eating 2200 calories a day. I am currently eating 1000 and can't seem to lose weight.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008, 3:01 PM

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whoa PP that does not seem not possible, 1000 a day and no weight loss - [for what period of time - are you a 12 year old girl who is 4 feet tall -]

no offense - I guess that is what this thread is for REAL vs. theory - but I just have a hard time beleiving you eat 1000 calories a day for say 3 months and lost nothing.

(but note that she said that was based on being "very active" too...)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008, 3:27 PM

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well, I did it for two weeks (actually 800 cals) and lost nothing. In fact, I gained 2 pounds. I work out every day for 30 minutes and when I have time, I walk for 15-20 minutes at 4:30 am when I get up.

I have since bumped up my calories because i was starving and my skin started looking funny, like unhealthy. I also have hashimoto's which limits weight loss.

my comment was for real, not theory. but thanks for your input.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008, 3:35 PM

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when I say real vs theory I mean
I agree with the OP / PT that the experiences that you and I have are sometimes more valuable than the scientific calculations and theories that are out there.
I did not mean that you were not doing what you said - I just wanted more info, that is all ;)


Tuesday, May 13, 2008, 3:45 PM

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I came across the concept of a multiplier of your weight to determine calorie consumption in bodybuilding publications/websites and The Biggest Loser (which chooses a painfully tiny multiplier, but then I don't have a $250K prize to keep me on track).

Most of these sources suggest a multiplier of no smaller than 9x your body weight, going higher for more activity. I currently do 2 hours of moderate cardio daily (yes, I do weights too, but that's not a significant, direct calorie burner). I could do less exercise and eat less food for the same result, but I like my food too much. The prospect of giving up 200 calories of deliciousness so that I can sit on my reduced-fat ass an extra 30 minutes a day just doesn't sound good to me - especially since those are my "fun" calories, as in a very healthy diet for 1500 calories, then throw in a couple of Reese's PB cups because I'm human.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008, 3:47 PM

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