The number of calories you should consume in a day will vary for each individual. To calculate how many a person should ingest each every day depends on age, height, gender, daily activity, and whether that individual would like to gain, lose or maintain their weight. Try out this calculator to determine your daily calorie count to determine where you are on the spectrum of recommended weight relative to your age and activity level.
Keeping a log of how active you are and what you eat and drink every day can be a very effective reminder of your food priorities. There are many gadgets, apps, and tools that can help, including these free ones. If you are like most of us, you may find that you are consuming more calories that you are using. What to do? Start with SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals for yourself because it’s easier to achieve these goals than something general.
According to America On the Move Foundation, a national non-profit organization co-founded by James O. Hill, PhD, “modifying energy balance (i.e. energy intake and/or expenditure) by 100 [Calories]/day could prevent weight gain in 90% of the adult U.S. population.” Here are a few easy ways to burn some calories throughout your day.
- Start pedaling! You can burn around 200 Calories in 23 minutes (or 4.6 miles) of pedaling a bike. Use the stationary bikes at the gym or take a lap or two around your neighborhood.
- Take the dog for a walk! A brisk walk for 25 minutes burns about 190 Calories.
- Grab the family and head to the bowling alley! A 60 minute game burns approximately 200 Calories (but be sure to skip the beer!).
- Head to the pool! 30 minutes of swimming (you can alternate your strokes), jog, lane walk or treading water burns roughly 200 Calories.
- Skip the elevator, take the stairs! Three flights of stairs, three times a day can burn around 45 Calories. A flight of stairs equals approximately 12 steps.
- Fidgeting can burn 100 Calories over the course of a day.
- Swap a regular soda for a diet soda with aspartame and cut around 150 Calories
Bottom line – Keep moving and don’t give up if you don’t achieve your goal immediately. If you can’t reach your goal(s) consider if you need to change your goal. It may be helpful to develop your goals based on your schedule, what motivates you, and what is challenging to you. For example, can you be more disciplined at work or are you more motivated on the weekends with family and friends that share your goals?
And what about all of the different diets that are touted to help you? There are certainly the diets that sound too good to be true and they can often backfire. But there are certainly diets that focus on protein, or fat, or limiting carbohydrates. The science shows that it’s more important to focus on the diet that helps you reduce your calorie intake long term rather than focusing on a specific diet trend.