When you’re trying to lose weight, you might think that you should just cut as many calories as possible. But the truth of the matter is, you need to eat to lose weight! You don’t want to eat more than you burn, but keeping a diet that is too restrictive can actually hinder your progress. That’s why you should abide by the minimum calorie intake guidelines for women and men, so you don’t sabotage all your good efforts.
Why Is There a Minimum Calorie Intake Guideline?
There is a certain number of calories needed per day for your body to perform essential functions… even if you’re lying in bed all day watching Netflix. The heart needs to pump blood, lungs need to intake oxygen, kidneys need to filter wastes, liver needs to detox, and the brain needs to concentrate and run the body.
The number of calories you need to eat to maintain these vital processes is what’s known as resting metabolism or basal metabolic rate (BMR). Everyone’s BMR is different because it’s based on age, sex, height, muscle mass, weight, and a host of genetic factors. While your BMR can be used as a guideline, physical activity and stress also play a role in how many calories you burn on the daily.
The problem is, if you aren’t eating enough and therefore not meeting your minimum calorie intake requirements, the body doesn’t get what it needs for basic functioning and will start to break down muscle and other lean tissue for fuel and you’ll burn fewer calories… not what you want to happen when you’re trying to shed some pounds.
Also, because you’re likely missing out on key nutrients, your body will do drastic things, such as leach minerals out of your bones, to get what you need. These are simply the physiological effects.
There are also complex psychological reasons why we should fuel our bodies optimally. If you’re too restrictive, you may set yourself up for a binge. This is the case of eating too low-calorie during the week, and undoing it all with that cheat meal(s) on the weekend. Hey, the body is smart and knows how to get what it needs: ENERGY a.k.a. FUEL a.k.a. FOOD.
How to Figure Out Your Minimum Calories Per Day
To calculate your caloric baseline without racking your brain with a complicated mathematical equation, multiply your current weight in pounds by 11. For optimal functioning of vital processes, it’s recommended that the calorie intake for women should not be lower than 1,200 calories per day and the calorie intake for men should not be less than 1,500 calories per day.
Keep in mind those are the minimum calories you should eat per day, and many people actually need to eat more than those baseline numbers to lose weight and keep it off for good.
This is good news everybody; you must eat to lose!