How to Assess Your Daily Caloric Needs?
Here and there, we often hear about calories. How can you know what quantity you need every day, i.e. your daily caloric needs?
Your caloric needs will depend on your goals
For an individual with a healthy weight (i.e., with a BMI between 18.5 and 25), a caloric intake equivalent to the total energy expenditure is recommended in order to maintain a stable weight.
For an overweight individual, a caloric deficit is desirable, i.e., they should burn more calories than they eat. To lose the equivalent of one pound a week, we recommend cutting away 500 calories from the total energy expenditure to get the amount of calories needed on a daily basis.
Daily caloric expenditure can vary according to age, sex, weight, and level of physical activity.
The Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec recommends using the following formulas established by USA’s Institute of Medicine of the National Academies:
TEE: Total energy expenditure
TA: Type of activity
LPA: Level of physical activity
Your weight in kg = Weight (lb) / 2.2
The level of daily physical activity is determined as follows:
Basic activities (commuting, household tasks, light office work, etc.).
- Slightly active:
As well as 30-60 minutes of moderate activity (brisk walk, light jogging, recreative sports, moderate speed cycling, aerobics, etc.).
As well as 60 minutes and more of moderate activity;
Or 30-60 minutes of vigorous activity (runnig, crossfit-style workout, competitive swimming, etc).
- Very active:
At least 60 minutes of moderate activity and at least 60 minutes of vigorous activity, or 180 minutes of moderate activity.
Beyond numbers, the most important is to listen to your hunger, and stop eating when it disappears. You should also learn to distinguish hunger from fake hunger; to learn more about this subject, I suggest you read the article How to Recognize Hunger Signals?
In addition, to better weigh the pros and cons of counting calories, I suggest you also read the article Should we count calories?
And you, what is your strategy?
 BMI = body mass index, which indicates weight distribution over body surface. It is calculated as follow: BMI = weight (kg) / height(m) x height (m)].