You’ve heard about calories – but how much do you really know about them, or the amount you need on a daily basis? Read today’s article to find out more about calories, your daily requirements, and the most effective way to budget your calories according to latest research.
A primer on calories
Calories are units of energy. They are used to maintain our bodily functions and provide energy for the physical activities that we engage in.
Our bodies burn calories every day. But if you take in more calories than you need you will end up with an excess – these extra calories are then stored as body fat.
How many calories do you need?
Do you know how many calories you should be eating on a day to day basis? Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t – most people actually don’t know.
So here’s how to determine your daily caloric needs: take your weight in pounds, multiply by 12 (if you are a man) or multiply by 10 (If you are a woman). This is the approximate number of calories you need to consume in a day (without any exercise involved) to maintain your current weight. This is a very general guideline by the way. Other factors do play a part, like age and physical exertion levels.
But using this general guideline, if you are overweight it means you have to consume fewer calories.
The most effective way to budget calories
Weight-loss programs like Weight Watchers and diet apps like MyFitnessPal helps focus on limiting calorie intake by budgeting calories per day. But is this the most effective way to budget your calories? The latest research says otherwise.
According to the research, the most effective way to budget calories isn’t to do it by day, but rather, by each meal.
Coauthor of the research Aradhna Krishna, professor of marketing at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, found that people set lower daily calorie budgets if they set them by meal, rather than by day. The researchers discovered that the daily calorie budget was lower by at least 100 calories when it was budgeted per meal.
Here’s the big question after all that – does this make a difference? The answer is, yes. A hundred calories lower means a pound of weight is lost every 5 weeks. That really adds up overtime…
According to another coauthor (Miaolei Jia of the University of Warwick), dieters want to cut more calories and see each meal as opportunities to do so. “We were able to show that in the budget-by-day approach, people thought about cutting calories for meals such as snacks and dinner where they were most likely to overconsume, but did not think about cutting calories for other meals.” When people did the budget-by-meal approach, they were more aware about their caloriesries caloric intake per meal, and usually cut more calories across the board.
The researchers discovered that budget-by-meal approach leads to lower calorie consumption.
The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
Are you trying to lose weight? What are your thoughts on caloric restriction, and calorie budgeting?
Share your thoughts and ideas about calorie budgeting in the comments section below.
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