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“Eat Right. NIH.”
While the rest of the world seems to be trying to either shed weight or gain some, there are many out there who are attempting neither. They have a healthy weight and they just want to maintain it. But it is not as easy as it sounds. Maintaining weight demands a certain lifestyle that balances calorie consumption with exercise. So the most crucial question is: how many calories should you eat to maintain weight? The answer is, exactly as many calories as you spend in a day. You can calculate your required calorie intake by taking into account your age, gender, height, weight, and level of physical activity.
1. You Need Calories To Live
While many of us champion low-calorie food, remember that we need energy to sustain metabolism and muscle function. This chemical energy is derived from food through the process of cellular respiration. And this energy is measured in calorie is a unit of energy.
2. Calorie Requirement Varies From Person To Person
The number of calories required is not a set number. It varies from person to person based on age, gender, weight, and activity levels.
Also remember that we use up calories even while resting, sleeping, or breathing. The rate at which our body uses energy when resting is called the basal metabolic rate (BMR). Put more simply, it is the energy used by the brain, heart, liver, and diaphragm for their functioning. It does not include the energy spent on movement.
The BMR decreases as we grow older and hence we burn less energy than we consume. This is why older people are prone to weight gain.
3. To Maintain Weight, Burn As Many Calories As You Eat
To maintain our weight, the calories we consume every day should be the same as the calories we burn. This will give us our ideal calorie maintenance level.
For example, suppose you consume 2000 cal in a day and you also burn 2000 cal a day through exercise and daily activities. So your daily calorie maintenance level is 2000 cal. That is, when calories consumed equal calories burned, we get the calorie maintenance level.
Accordingly, if you wish to lose weight, you must consume less than 2000 calories; and if you wish to gain weight, you must consume more than 2000 calories.
That sounds easy, but to burn as many calories as you eat, you need to maintain a strict exercise routine. Do these exercises to burn more calories faster.
Calculate Your Calorie Maintenance Level
Calorie requirements vary from person to person. However, there are some basic methods to get accurate estimates of the calories that each person requires.
1. Multiply Your Body Weight By 14 And 17
The first method involves multiplying your body weight with 14 and 17. Your ideal calorie maintenance requirement level will fall somewhere between these two amounts.
For example, a person weighing 150 lbs will need to multiply 150 lbs with 14 as well as 17. The estimated calorie maintenance level will then fall between 2100 and 2550 calories.
2. Use The Mifflin-St. Jeor Equation
The second method is using the more accurate but slightly complex Mifflin-St. Jeor Calculator.[ref]Frankenfield, David C. “Bias and accuracy of resting metabolic rate equations in non-obese and obese adults.” Clinical nutrition 32, no. 6 (2013): 976-982. [/ref]
10 x weight (in kg) + 6.25 x height (in cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5
10 x weight (in kg) + 6.25 x height (in cm) – 5 x age (y) – 161
Eat Right To Maintain An Ideal Weight
Now that you have figured out how many calories you should eat to maintain weight, let’s also look at what would be the ideal foods that serve this purpose most efficiently. Some of the ideal nutrient-rich and low-calorie foods you can have to maintain a healthy diet are:
- Foods rich in fiber, like fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables and fruits
- Sugar-free fresh juices
- Whole grain breads and pastas
- Fat-free dairy products
- Meats and fish that are steamed or baked rather than fried
Eating smaller portions of food and keeping track of the calories you consume are also some other good ways to ensure you eat right and healthy and maintain weight.[ref]Eat Right. NIH.[ref]
Another good way to maintain weight while also ensuring you eat well is to write down the various foods you eat and drinks you consume as well as their calories. If nothing, this will make you more aware of what you are eating and drinking on a regular basis and help you get better control of what you are eating.[ref]Finding A Balance. CDC.[/ref]
Eat right, exercise well. Reaching an ideal weight and maintaining it is not that difficult.