How Many Calories Should I Eat Daily?

How Many Calories Should I Eat Daily?

Posted on 21. Nov, 2010 by in Fat loss

A common question I get asked a lot is, “how many calories should I eat daily?.” This is a very good question because, as I’ve said over and over again, the basic principle of weight loss is calories in, calories out. If you violate this rule, you will have a difficult time seeing weight loss. I guarantee it.

I’ve given you a resource for calculating calorie deficit before and you can instantly download this tool from this article: “How to Calculate Your Calorie Deficit”. This tool will give you a good estimate of how many calories you should consume daily but I’ve found that, sometimes, the numbers can be way too high for people outside of the average population which most of these calculations are based on. If you are within the average population, your actual number may vary by a difference of 100-200 calories a day. In reality, this is only a rough starting point. But, after reading a recent e-book from Brad Pilon, I happened upon a better way to calculate your daily calorie intake.

You will most likely remember Brad Pilon as the author of Eat Stop Eat but recently, he came out with a joint project called, Venus Index. Pilon wrote the nutrition manual for Venus Index (VI) while his partner in crime, John Barban, created the amazing workouts. While I’m not ready to fully review the Venus Index yet, I’d like to talk about what I learned from Brad on the nutrition standpoint so far.

The nutrition manual for VI is entitled, “Body Centric Eating Manual.” Brad defines body centric eating as (his own words exactly): With Body-Centric Eating, the ‘end goal’ is a specific body weight and shape. We simply eat to obtain then maintain this shape and weight. With Calorie-Centric Eating, the ‘end goal’ is to eat a mathematically pre-determined amount of calories with hopes that this number will lead to weight loss. Brad also goes on to say that your calorie needs are largely determined by your height and your activity level. We’d like to think that having more muscle or eating more protein will help increase our metabolism which they do, but the increase in metabolism is not significant enough to make a difference in our weight loss efforts. But, I digress…

jessica-biel

[Just so you know, the body shape I’m going for is what Jessica Biel sports in this picture]

Brad then gave an ideal weight range for men and women based on their height and the minimum calorie intake we should be eating during extended periods of weight loss. For instance, for me (a female) with a height of 5’4″, my ideal weight range is 108 to 139 lbs. Based on my height, my minimum calorie intake is 1,250 calories a day. This number is lower than what I previously calculated since it does not take into account my activity level because this is a body centric equation. But what this number will do though is it will help me move towards my ideal body shape no matter what my activity level is. With the Venus Index, they suggest you do not go over 50% of your height. In my case, my waist should ideally be 40% of my height which is 25.5 inches.

Keep in mind that I don’t intend to eat 1,250 calories a day. I love food so much that eating as little as this is simply not sustainable. I would go off track on my 3rd day most likely…lol. It’s a great thing I use Eat Stop Eat. Brad suggests to treat 1,250 calories as a rolling average. This means I can have a 24 hour fast eating no calories at all so I can eat a lot more than 1,250 during the days I do eat. If I have confused you already, here is how my daily calorie intake looks like:

  • Monday – Start Fast after lunch, eat only 850 calories
  • Tuesday – end fast at lunch, eat only 850 calories
  • Wednesday – full day of eating, eat 1,750 calories

Since I ate 400 calories less than what I’m supposed to 2 days in a row, I can eat an extra 800 calories on the days I do eat. What I tend to do is save these extra calories over the weekend when my husband and I go out to a nice restaurant or go to a social gathering of some sort. If I add in another 24-hour fast to my week, that is a whopping 1,600 calories extra I can eat over the weekend or on days I’d like to eat more. Now, you can see how I can maintain this “rolling average” of 1,250 calories a day even when I eat more on certain days. To make this simpler, if I multiplied 1,250 by 7 days, I have 8,750 calories to play with during the week and distribute it however I want. So, maybe the right question is “how many calories should I eat in a week?” instead of “how many calories should I eat daily?”.

What Brad has created here is a beautiful thing. Trying to lose weight or “dieting” no longer means canceling all your social functions or dinner with friends because “you can’t eat that stuff.” Really, this is as flexible as you can get. I wish I can post the actual table that Pilon used in the manual but I feel that I will be giving away too much information which he many not appreciate 🙂

But, if you are fully invested in getting results, I suggest you get the manual right now while it is still 40% off. You can get it here: Venus Index Systems. This is hands down, a great investment which will change the way you eat and the way you workout.

This is also one of the best programs developed for women and women only which means that you are not doing some workout designed for a dude. I don’t want to say too much about the workout yet because I am still reviewing it at this moment (i.e. actually doing the workouts in the real world which is my lab…haha) but if you just get this because you are interested in the “Body Centric Eating Manual,” you would have gotten your money’s worth already. All I can say about the workouts is I’m having fun with them.

Happy “dieting”!

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  • Anything that has to do with Brad Pilon will work and make sense, I follow his blog a lot and everything just seems to fit. When I started using Eat Stop Eat I my body finally started to change how I wanted it to.
    So for sure I will check out the Venus Index (not so much for me but for my wife).
    Counting calories sux! but sometimes it has to be done, I'll only do it as a last resort if I can't lose weight
    … when people ask me about “how many calories” I just say look in the mirror, keep on cutting back each week until something happens, its simplistic but thats the idea. If you are in a hurry then you'll have to count.
    I like how you have a picture of you body goal, I'll have to start searching for one too!… I am still unsure how I want to look and so that's reflected in my workouts ..all over the place.
    Raymond

  • Raymond, calorie counting does suck! I should've mentioned this in the post

    but Brad basically does not recommend counting calories. Just have an idea

    of an estimate. Pretty much kinda like your approach. But, this also means a

    person should already have a good idea of calories in foods. I say a god 3

    months of counting calories should be good enough. It does not have to be

    done forever or go obsessive compulsive.

    As far as the image of my body goal, you really should get one. My mantra is

    “how will you know how to get there if you don't know where you're going?”

    🙂 Simple but not easy.

    Anna

  • Hey Anna,

    Looking forward to your review of the Venus Index, like you say there aren't enough programs developed strictly for the ladies so this looks promising.

    I know a lot of ladies who feel doomed to suffer a body shape they don't like and this sounds like a simple effective way to help them, without them having to give up their lives in the process.

    Michael

  • Bev

    I don't think I could every do a 24-hour fast–unless I am sick and don't feel like eating. A 12 hour fast is the maximum I can handle while working in an office in front of a computer everyday. When I get too hungry I can't concentrate well on what I am doing; all I can think about is eating something. I am sure this works for people who can stay quite active during fasting so that they don't even think about eating, but that is not my kind of workday.

  • Hi Bev, you might want to check out Martin Berkhan's blog at

    http://www.leangains.com/2010/04/leangains-guide.html. His guide will be

    better for you in terms of fasting.

    Anna

  • Michael, this is definitely a great tool for women. I plan to review this in

    the next 4-5 weeks or so to give it justice. Thanks for stopping by!

    Anna

  • Great article. I read both Brad's and Martin's blogs. I mix and match my fasting to match my life. I agree 100% about calorie in and out and tell my clients this all the time. I also agree on not counting calories just to know about where you are. counting them exactly will just drive you crazy.

    Louis

  • Hi Louis, for sure. Mixing and matching fasting schedule is a good idea as

    long as you keep it consistent enough that you get used to the routine. I'd

    say 4 weeks of ESE and 4 weeks of Martin's. I found that it doesn't work if

    you change the fasting schedule on a daily basis as you don't get into

    habits and it gets very confusing 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Anna

  • To be honest, I've never been a big fan of calorie counting. I think it's important to know and understand what calorie range you need to stay within to maintain (or lose/gain) your weight. Once you know this, it will be easier to see how much food you can consume. I just don't believe in counting every single calorie you put inside your body.

    Instead, it should be about HIGH QUALITY calories in vs. HIGH QUALITY energy out.

    Focus on consuming quality foods and incorporating specific activities into your daily routine.

  • Hi Srdjan, this is definitely what I'm suggesting but as I coach people on

    nutrition and exercise for a living, I found that most of them do not have

    much of an idea about the calories in foods. So, I suggest they get the

    skill of knowing this by practicing first. After that, they can rely on

    estimates.

    Anna

  • Anna,

    Great post. I'm a big fan of Brad Pilon's work. I follow Eat Stop Eat and I have also developed a rough estimate on how many calories I need to be eating to maintain (or lose) weight. I prefer to track calories on a weekly basis because it's more flexible and easier to manage.

    Alykhan

  • Hi Alykhan, it definitely is easier to track calories on a weekly basis.

    It's a lot more flexible 🙂

    Anna

  • I'm in the corner of hating to count calories and I don't recommend it to my clients.

    At the same time I was talking to a client of mine the other day that was saying he actually likes counting calories because it turns it into a game and makes it more likely for him to follow it. He was showing me some kind of app he had on his phone where he just plugs in what he ate, it spits out an estimate of how many calories it was, makes a continuous count throughout the day, and he can tell as he moves through the day whether he's at his limit and should stop, or he can keep eating.

    So in the end, it comes down to, whatever suits your personality and the way you work. Like I said, I hate counting them and would much rather just jump on the scale, do a few measurements and go from there as to whether I need to eat more, less, or the same.

  • Hi Mike, it's definitely a personality thing and as I've said before, I

    don't recommend calorie counting for the long-term. People need to know how

    many calories are in foods because some people just do not have a clue. It's

    a skill they must have before they can even estimate their calorie intake

    without counting. If you do not know the actual number then you can not

    estimate 🙂

    Anna

  • The better question one should ask is how active am I and how much calories do I tend to burn on a regular day. If you don’t exercise and burn around 1000-1500 calories then you know where you can start. Since 3000-3500 calories need to be burned or used for one pound of fat then simply cutting out 500 calories would lose about 1lb per week.

    Now if you include exercise and other activities then you will lose more than that. The problem is that too many people do well on a couple of days only to really do bad on 2-3 other days.

  • Anna Dornier

    I completely agree with you that people only do well for a few days. I have made this mistake too and this is an important point you’re making. If you can do well on even 4 out of 7 days during the week, the odds will be in your favor. Also, losing 1 lb of fat a week may result to more weight lost due to water loss and reduction in inflammation.

  • I completely agree with you that people only do well for a few days. I have made this mistake too and this is an important point you’re making. If you can do well on even 4 out of 7 days during the week, the odds will be in your favor. Also, losing 1 lb of fat a week may result to more weight lost due to water loss and reduction in inflammation.

  • Pingback: How to Look Fit and Still Look Feminine | My Fat Loss Strategies()

  • missphillips

    I am a woman. I lift heavy and eat clean, but I eat close to 3000 calories a day to support my 5’8, 135lb frame. I have a six pack, and can bench over my body weight. Starving yourself, for any reason, is unnecessary, and is irresponsible information to give to people. Encouraging people to NOT eat, especially women searching for work out tips online, is only propagating eating disorders. You don’t need to starve to lose weight. I lost 50lbs over the summer without resorting to any fads or crash diets. Love yourself and take care of your body, and to the creator of this blog, please think about what you are saying. Where do you get your information? From some company that pays you? Where do they get their information? Do you know it works or do you assume it works because they told you so? Maybe you don’t care. Do YOU have a degree? Kinesiology? Are you a registered dietician? What are your qualifications??!! Oh well… I suppose on the internet you can say what you want.

    anyways… http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/missphillips/

    The proof is in the pudding.

  • missphillips

    Its also funny that any comments that don’t support what Anna is saying get deleted. SMH SCAM!

  • @ecf0274788bd2e261377a686a4acbd7b:disqus First of all, the only comments that get deleted in this blog are from spammers.  I encourage free-thinking in this blog as I know that everyone is entitled to their opinion.  Just like you are.  Have you ever thought that not everyone burns calories as much as you do?  People are made vastly different from each other.  I personally experience everything I wrote about here and they are also backed by a lot of scientific research.  I suggest you do your own research first before bashing other people’s work.

    I also have multiple fitness certifications from nationally recognized institutions.  Yes, I also have a bachelors of Science degree from a reputable university.

  • missphillips

    No two bodies have the same reaction to anything. However- when applied correctly- the basic tenets of health apply to and work for everyone (barring those with major medical issues- and a workout plan isn’t going to solve those kinds of problems on its own, anyways). There is no magic pill or potion, nor does starving yourself cause any lasting weight loss- only malnutrition. If you really believed in what you were saying you wouldn’t steadily try to sell something. I understand you have a job to do- however, I stand by my statements. I have done my research- and I don’t need a degree to see through a clever marketing scam. You are preying on people. You say you have a degree from a reputable university… which one? What was your concentration? I’m not bashing anyone’s work, all I am asking is for you to analyze the information you are putting out. I appreciate the reply and you leaving my prior comments up- but the comment I left prior to those was deleted immediately after I posted it- I am far from spam. 

  • I agree with your first two sentences.  I don’t know why you have such strong accusations.  But, I do not and will not recommend anything I have not tried before and has not been proven to work.  I do not plan on defending myself because I stand by my work as I research and experience everything I write about and/or recommend. 

  • KMac

     Not consuming enough calories (i.e. only 850 for two days in a row) triggers a “starvation” response, slowing down your metabolism. Then on days where you eat more, your body has already adjusted to not being fed as many calories so it slowly metabolizes the larger amount, storing it as fat, assuming it will be starved again. Women who struggle with weight loss need to jump start and speed up their metabolism, not slow it down! Small, frequent meals full of fiber, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates are the key, along with exercise! Light strength training and cardio!! Yes, you must burn more calories than you consume, but you still have to have enough to keep your metabolism up! You should never eat less than 1200 a day! Your body needs this much just to maintain normal metabolic function!  

  • Actually, there have been studies of Navy seals who were already fairly lean. They did a lot of rigorous training while fasting and the so-called “starvation” mode you’re talking about did not kick-in until 4 days of fasting and rigorous activity. Our bodies are built so much smarter than we think.

    I believe a lot of people tend to ruin their metabolism when they develop erratic eating habits and extreme dieting for long periods of time. When done properly, short periods of fasting and low calorie days are very beneficial not only for fat loss but also overall health.

  • This has been an extremely informative post and comment section.  I am so guilty of not eating enough and triggering that starvation response.  So I am going to try to get smart this time.  Now, I do a shake in the morning and eat small nutritious snacks, and small meals (if not another shake).  Thanks so much to the commenters that educated me so much! 

  •  I’m glad you like it, Tammy!

  • becs

    OMG! I came across this- i know its 3 years old but you have no idea how happy it makes me to see a normal person response to this wacko! lol

    I have struggled with anorexia for years and even when i thought i wasn’t struggling – yet i was still counting calories and not going over around 1200-1300 i was still so unhealthy and missing important nutrition! me being a small 5’4 and maybe around 120-125 ( i stopped weighing years ago because there is no point to it! ) my body burns over 1300 calories a day just living that doesn’t include walking, working, standing, and working out! people think they can starve themselves for a couple days and than eat a lot another day and it helps metabolism when really it confuses the heck out of your body! your body than holds onto ever ounce of fat and food it can because its afraid and confused when and how often it’ll get food. this is someone talking who got down to a tiny 78lbs and still had cellulite and a bloated belly. my flattest stomach was when i was close to 140 and heavy lifting. i wish people just loved and treated themselves better and just enjoyed life – ate clean and wasn’t lazy. makes me so sad to think of all this out for young people to see and make bad life habits.

    ok rant over! 😀 xoox