Here’s all you need to know about calories in your diet.
A 'calorie' can be defined as the heat needed to raise the temperature of a kilogram of water one-degree centigrade. In other words, a calorie is a potential source of energy. But enough of Chemistry…
Let’s go back to the 1980s, this was the decade in which calorie counting experienced a boom. However, the methodology used to calculate calorie intake wasn't as evolved as it is today. "The general system used to determine how many calories a healthy individual should consume regularly was not based on unique characteristics like gender, age, and activity level," explains Lisa Richards, nutritionist. Back then, the system provided more of a baseline instead of the more nuanced approaches used today.
Currently, many nutritionists determine daily calorie intake by an equation that measures Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDE), both unique to the individual. "Recommended daily calorie intake is typically calculated based on the Mifflin-St Jeor equation," explains Richards, "and is widely recognized as the most effective and valid method to estimate daily individual calorie needs."
The calorie amount for each individual will vary according to their fitness goals, too.
For example, it will be very different for those who want to build muscle in comparison with those who want to get rid of fat or overall weight. Understanding daily calorie needs in addition to the breakdown of these calories as macronutrients (carbs, fats, proteins) is important for creating structure and individualization within one’s daily eating pattern.
When it comes to determining your recommended calorie count, there's an app for that. Richards recommends you look for a calculator that "utilizes gender, age, height, weight, and weekly activity level." From there, she says, you can generate a daily "calorie estimate making it easy to portion meals and plan a healthy weekly eating routine specific to your goal." Can you believe it was that easy? God bless apps!