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How Many Calories Should I Eat to Reach my Goal?

By Expert HERWriter
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how many calories to reach my goal? Auremar/PhotoSpin

Are you counting calories to try to lose weight? Do you actually know what a calorie is or why you are counting them to lose weight?

It’s time for you to understand the accounting process that we call calorie counting, so you can understand how to use it for healthy weight loss.

Calories are actually a scientific measurement. They are used to measure the amount of heat energy in an object. Calories are a measurement of energy within food, but the measure is not only used for food.

According to Scientific American, the definition of a calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water 1 degree Celsius.

There is a special machine that is used to figure the amount of calories in objects called a bomb calorimeter.

I’m sure this is starting to sound like a science project, right?

The key point is that calories are measures of energy that our body uses to handle all of our daily activities.

When we think about calories in foods there is a different system called the Atwater system. Calorie amounts are generally based on the protein, carbohydrate, fats and alcohol content found in foods. Proteins and carbohydrates are generally estimated to be 4 calories per gram. Fats are considered 9 calories per gram, and alcohol is considered 7 calories per gram.

Because our bodies need energy to function we have to eat a certain number of calories every day. This is the purpose of eating food. For example, it takes calories to breath, walk, sit, exercise, etc. So every day you expend a certain number of calories.

You gain weight if the number of calories that you eat each day is more than the number of calories that you expend every day. You lose weight when the number of calories that you expend is more than the number you eat.

How do you know the number of calories that you should shoot for every day?

You can use your ideal body weight (IBW) and multiply it by 14 to get an estimate of your needed daily calories. Your ideal body weight is your goal weight.

Add a Comment3 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

So much was left out of this article. How do you calculate your ideal body weight and how in the world do you calculate how many calories you are eating? I cook fresh, and If I made ome spinach with a little Leon and olive oil, some chicken and a piece of cantaloupe (just examples), or drank a green drink, or ate a spoonful or so of hummus or spanakopita, how many calories is that? I don't buy anything that has calories or other info since I like cooking fresh. Very hard to do plus everyone has different needs depending on their medical conditions.

May 1, 2014 - 12:14pm
(reply to Anonymous)

You can easily calculate the number of calories in the fresh foods you make - simply measure your ingredients.

May 1, 2014 - 2:10pm

Disappointed to see this article on calorie counting and weight loss. The research on the best indicators of health is overall fitness NOT body weight. Calculating one's "ideal body weight" is not necessarily a helpful calculation to make. A mathematical formula will not effectively consider one's lifestyle, medical issues, genetics, etc. Our bodies are excellent at letting us know when we need to eat and when we need to stop; however, as a culture we have learned to ignore those signals. A better, more personalized approach is to learn how to identify those signals again and to listen to them. Please consider articles on eating healthy and engaging in moderate exercise. Those are the behaviors that lead to overall health (both physical and psychological) - weight loss may or may not occur depending on myriad factors including genetics.
Respectfully, Christine Selby, Ph.D., licensed psychologist and eating disorder specialist

May 1, 2014 - 10:33am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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