How Many Calories should I be Eating per Day?
The result of very low-calorie diets, or yo-yo dieting, is a subsequent lowering of the metabolic rate and hence the reduced success of your weight loss plan in the long term. Indeed, several scientific studies have shown that more weight is actually gained in the long term for every diet undertaken. If you find that your calorie intake is too low and your weight loss success has plateaued, or even reversed, it may be an idea to find a healthy eating plan that adheres to your own personal recommended calorie intake.
How many calories you should consume per day depends on several factors including your age, sex, height, activity levels, amount of muscle mass, lifestyle and general health. The recommended daily calorie intake for good health varies according to where in the world you live. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) recommends 2,500 (10,460 Kj) calories a day for an adult male and 2,000 (8,368 Kj) for an average female. The US is a bit more generous with an additional 200 calories (840 Kj) a day allowance for both sexes.
Are there Scientific Studies that support the Theory of NOT eating at Night?
One 2008 study examined the habit of night time eating and the subsequent effects on weight gain. Night time eating was defined as eating between 23:00 and 05:00. Night time eaters did consume more calories per day and around 15 % of their daily energy intake was during these night time hours. At the end of the study it was found that night time eaters did gain 6.2 kg more weight than the control group. The research concluded that night time eating did predict weight gain.
Many alcohol drinkers who consider themselves ‘average wine drinkers’ down around 2,000 calories every month according to a chart by an Arizona personal trainer. For those of us who enjoy a drink, alcohol accounts for 10% of all calories consumed. Alcoholic drinks are very high in calories, add to this the high sugar content of many mixers and the increased hunger and decreased control after a drinking session and you have a cocktail … for weight gain.
Will drinking Alcohol regularly lead to weight gain?
As mentioned earlier, there is a lot of conflicting medical evidence regarding weight gain and alcohol consumption. However, according to a 2005 study by Suter entitled ‘Is Alcohol Consumption a risk factor for Weight Gain and Obesity?’
‘ … every component of the energy-balance equation is affected by the ingestion of alcohol.’
Even moderate drinking increases energy intake because of the high calorie content of alcohol combined with its appetite enhancing properties. Suter examined several medical studies on metabolism and alcohol and concluded that alcohol consumption suppresses the absorption of fat in the body which can lead to weight gain.
This is because alcohol is more quickly and easily used by the body for energy than fat, furthermore, the non-oxidized fat tends to be deposited in the stomach area ~ in simple terms alcohol drinking is associated with a ‘beer belly’. This study suggests that there is a large variable about the amount of alcohol consumed and weight gain which is also dependant on frequency of drinking and genetic factors. In conclusion it appeared that calories from alcohol counted more in moderate non-daily drinkers than in heavy, daily drinkers and contributes more to weight gain in association with an existing high calorie diet and obesity problem.
Alcohol Consumption leads to Weight Gain for Men!
Despite some uncertainty around the issue of weight gain and alcohol consumption medical research that followed 7,608 middle-aged British men over a 5 year period concluded that heavy drinking (more than or equal to 30 g per day which is around 3 alcoholic drinks) showed the biggest weight gain and had a higher Body Mass Index (BMI). Heavy alcohol intake in men, regardless of the type of alcohol, leads to weight gain and obesity.
How much Alcohol should we Drink per week?
A good plan when looking at alcohol in relation to weight loss is to cut out all alcohol on weekdays and only drink at weekends but to keep calories down (and to reduce a whole lot of other health risks) stay within the above recommended safe daily limits.
High Calorie refined carbohydrates (or white carbs) such as bread, pasta, rice, pizza base, chips, white flour and its products (cakes, pastries donuts, biscuits) and French fries should be avoided at all costs. Remember we are going for Low carbs not NO Carbs. These refined carbohydrates are absorbed very quickly by the body and lead to spikes in blood sugar levels and cravings. The healthy carbohydrate foods that you should be enjoying are fruit, vegetables, beans, lentils and wholemeal bread, pasta and rice. If you are going for effortless weight loss it is recommended that you stay under 100 g of carbohydrates a day.
If you have a moderate to high physical activity level and/or you exercise regularly at a relatively high intensity and you have been cutting out carbohydrates completely you may be running on empty. This will result in low energy levels, fatigue and cravings for high sugar or high energy foods. The exercising muscle needs fuel to function at its best and to effectively burn body fat which is why you should never totally cut out carbohydrates because this is not a long term, healthy weight loss plan.
What is the ideal diet for Weight loss? Low Carbohydrate or Low Fat?
A small research study examined snacking on either a high protein or high carbohydrate snack when hungry in between meals. The high protein snack did have some hunger satisfying effects, whereas the high carbohydrate snacks did not. Both snacks however, had NO effect on the amount of food and calories consumed at the next meal. The study concluded that snacking when hungry, does not relieve hunger, regardless of its composition which is evidence that snacking does play a role in obesity for some.
Snacking does not appear to be all bad, however. In a long term study on snacking a group of 66 lean men snacked on a chocolate bar six days a week for six months on top of their usual, regular meals. Had the men not regulated their eating to accommodate the extra calories, they should have put on 4 – 5 Kg over the time period however, there was NO weight gain at all. Interestingly then, snacking does NOT appear to lead to weight gain in those that are lean, fit and active and not overweight or obese.
Eating between meals will only induce weight gain if you
regularly eat more calories than you need.
Vintage Cheddar: 20 g – Saturated fat: 4.2 g (82 Calories)
Brie Soft Cheese: 20 g – Saturated fat: 4.1 g (60 Calories)
Halloumi: 20 g – Saturated fat: 3.5 g (63 Calories)
Feta Cheese: 20 g – Saturated fat: 3.7 g (63 Calories)
Camembert: 20g – Saturated fat: 4.4 g (56 Calories)
Goat’s cheese, 20g – Saturated fat: 2.8 g (52 Calories)
Cheese is a high calorie, high fat food but also may be linked with addictive eating habits according to a 2015 study into food cravings published by the University of Michigan. In a survey carried out on 500 students called the Yale Food Addiction Scale, pizza was identified as the most addictive food, and in part, this is due to the liberal cheese topping. Enjoy your cheese nibbles but keep a very close eye on portion size.
Questions and Answers
I understand the need for a long-term healthy eating plan but I would like to do a short term diet. There are so many to choose from. Which do you recommend?
The diet voted number one by experts for weight loss was actually developed for the treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure) by the US National Institutes of Health. The DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) eating plan was voted the best weight loss regime by health professionals.
DASH was developed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and beat hands down other diets such as the 5:2 Fast Diet, Dukan and Paleo (caveman) diets in areas such as weight loss (both in the long and short term), whether it meets recommended nutritional needs, ease to maintain and health risks. Furthermore, both the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommend the DASH diet in their new guidelines to prevent heart disease and strokes.
The DASH diet is rich in fruit, vegetables and nuts, lean meats and whole grains and is extremely easy to follow. See some sample meal plans.
I get confused sometimes about weight loss. One friend in my Weight Loss Facebook group, said that it is the type of calories that you eat that are important not the amount. Is this true?
I have been very overweight for many years now and despite trying numerous diets I can’t manage to keep the weight off. I have just found out I have diabetes Type II, any suggestions?
Some medical experts believe that weight loss surgery is one of the most successful methods for weight loss in people who have tried (and failed) for many years to lose weight and are obese. If your Body Mass Index is over 40 or it is over 30 with an associated illness (such as your Diabetes) then surgery for weight loss may be an option for you. Find out your own Body Mass Index here. Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix and is certainly not an easy option. Surgery comes with its own set of risks depending on the procedure. However, the weight loss results can be very good as can the improvement in associated conditions. For a more detailed look at weight loss surgery click HERE.
I am desperate to lose weight fast I’m thinking of weight-loss pills such as Garcinia Cambogia what do you think?
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Recent Diet Posts
- Adam-Perrot A, Clifton P, Brouns F. (2007) Low-carbohydrate diets: nutritional and physiological aspects.Obes Rev. 2006 Feb;7(1):49-58 (Retrieved January 18th 2016) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16436102
- Dyson PA, Beatty S, Matthews DR. (2007) A low-carbohydrate diet is more effective in reducing body weight than healthy eating in both diabetic and non-diabetic subjects.Diabet Med. 2007 Dec;24(12):1430-5. Epub (Retrieved January 18th 2016) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17971178
- Gluck ME, Venti CA, Salbe AD, Krakoff J. (2008) Nighttime eating: commonly observed and related to weight gain in an inpatient food intake study..Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Oct;88(4):900-5. (Retrieved January 16th 2016) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18842774
- Kirk TR, Cursiter MC (1999) Long-term snacking intervention did not lead to weight gain in free-living man. Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition. 1999;2 (Suppl 34):3–17. (Retrieved January 19th 2016)
- Kramer FM , Jeffery RW , Forster JL , Snell MK (1989) Long-term follow-up of behavioral treatment for obesity: patterns of weight regain among men and women. International Journal of Obesity [1989, 13(2):123-136] (Retrieved January 12th 2016) http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/2663745
- Marmonier C, Chapelot D, Fantino M, Louis-Sylvestre J.(2002) Snacks consumed in a nonhungry state have poor satiating efficiency: influence of snack composition on substrate utilization and hunger. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Sep;76(3):518-28. (Retrieved January 19th 2016) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12197994
- Neumark-Sztainer D, Wall M, Haines J, Story M, Eisenberg ME. (2007) Why does dieting predict weight gain in adolescents? Findings from project EAT-II: a 5-year longitudinal study. J Am Diet Assoc. 2007 Mar;107(3):448-55. (Retrieved January 11th 2016) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17324664
- Pietiläinen KH, Saarni SE, Kaprio J, Rissanen A. (2012) Does dieting make you fat? A twin study. Int J Obes (Lond). 2012 Mar;36(3):456-64. (Retrieved January 11th 2016) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21829159
- Schulte EM, Avena NM, Gearhardt AN. (2015) Which Foods May Be Addictive? The Roles of Processing, Fat Content, and Glycemic Load PLoS One. 2015; 10(2): e0117959.(Retrieved January 19th 2016)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4334652/
- Schlundt DG, Hill JO, Sbrocco T, Pope-Cordle J, Sharp T. (1992) The role of breakfast in the treatment of obesity: a randomized clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 1992 Mar;55(3):645-51.(Retrieved January 7th 2016) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1550038
- Suter PM. (2005) Is alcohol consumption a risk factor for weight gain and obesity? Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2005;42(3):197-227.(Retrieved January 17th 2016) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16047538
- Wannamethee SG, Shaper AG.. (2003) Alcohol, body weight, and weight gain in middle-aged men.. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 May;77(5):1312-7. (Retrieved January 16th 2016) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12716687
- Wyatt HR, Grunwald GK, Mosca CL, Klem ML, Wing RR, Hill JO. (2002) Long-term weight loss and breakfast in subjects in the National Weight Control Registry.. Obes Res. 2002 Feb;10(2):78-82. (Retrieved January 7th 2016) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11836452