"How many calories do you eat a day bro?" I piece of me dies whenever I hear the question. The truth of the matter is I don't know and I don't want to know. And here's why..
The Success-Failure Paradigm
When you give yourself a strict number of calories to adhere to, you inherently give yourself a pass/fail criteria. If your goal is to eat 2500 calories, on that day you hit 2550, you have failed your goal. String together enough failures, you will see your goals as "impossible" and quit altogether. TheTVNway isn't about rules and rubrics to be followed one day and disguarded when inconvenient. It's about a paradigm shift in your mind about your health, where you make well informed nutrition decisions whatever the circumstance. We don't want you to feel pressured by numbers or points when dealing with something as ubiquitous, plentiful and tempting as food.
All Calories Aren't Created Equal
I cover this at more depth in this post. But suffice it to say a calorie is a unit measure of energy, not necessarily a unit measure of harm/benefit. While eating 2000 calories a day in muffins and Red Bull might see you maintaining or even losing weight, it speaks nothing of the benefit/harm intrinsic in the ingredients you're consuming. And that might be the biggest part of the picture! If you're strictly eating for weight loss/weight gain then yes, calories are the biggest part of the picture. But if you're eating to optimize the miracle machine that is your human body, there's so much more to the picture.
Math was one of my majors and even I don't want to spend time adding up calories when I eat. That would be like going to Six Flags and having to write down how many min you spent in each line. Forget that! Making good food choices will invariably have you eating lots of fiber, which will naturally fill you up keeping you from over eating. Eating healthy food usually doesn't cause a party in your mouth like high sugar/fat foods do anyway. You're probably not going to want that second serving of your plain steel cut oats.
Calorie counting in some situations can be a useful exercise, especially for those who are new to thinking about their nutrition. Below is a formula you can follow if you're looking for where to start. But as you make progress through your journey kill the rules and just eat the right thing. And if you like what you read, do us a favor and subscribe to our blog below!
If little/no exercise multiply bodyweight (BW)* in pounds by 13-15
If light/moderate exercise (45-60 min/day, medium intensity 3-4x/week) use BW x 16-20
If very active (60-120 min/day, medium intensity 5-6x/week) use BW x 21-25
If extremely active (i.e. high volume training for Ironman or ultra) use BW x 25-30
Men use mid-to-high range, women use low-to-mid range.
*The fat content of a 180-pound body makes a difference: the caloric needs of a body that is 10% fat, with a lot of lean muscle, are greater than the same body that carries 25% fat.