You may find it difficult to consistently count your calories on a daily basis because some days you might be starving while other days you can get by with little food. The good news is it’s not all in your head — most of it is physiological. Your hormone levels, genetic makeup, sleep and physical activity levels all play a role. By getting enough shut eye, maintaining a healthy diet and participating in regular physical activity, you can eat more food and maintain a healthy weight.
- When it comes to how much you can eat in a day, physical activity is the factor with the most variability. According to Dr. Barbara Bushman, a fellow with the American College of Sports Medicine, this amount can be 15 percent of total energy expended for sedentary individuals and can reach as high as 80 percent for athletes. The frequency, intensity and duration of your workout also contribute to how many calories you need for that day. The more often you work out, the higher your heart rate increases and the longer you engage in physical activity, the more calories you burn and the more calories you need to maintain your weight.
What You Eat
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the energy density of foods is related to how many calories you consume in a given day. Energy density is calories per gram of weight in a particular food. Foods with a lower energy density typically have a high water and fiber content and a low-fat content, such as vegetables and fruits. High-fat foods tend to have a high energy density. When you eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products you’ll control hunger, feel satisfied and lower your overall caloric intake. Most beverages are low in energy density, but don’t promote satiety, so stick with water and other low-calorie beverages.
- You may want to turn in a little earlier for the night if you’re looking to prevent overeating and weight gain. When you don’t get an adequate amount of sleep, your hormone levels change, which is associated with weight and energy balance. A study published in 2012 in the journal “Sleep” divided men and women into a sleep deprived group and a group receiving nine hours of sleep per night. Sleep deprived men had bigger appetites and sleep deprived women felt less full, meaning the sleep deprived group consumed more calories than the group receiving a full night’s rest.
- According to College of the Canyons, men and tall people tend to have higher caloric needs. As you age, your body naturally gravitates towards more fat and less lean muscle, which means a drop of 75 to 100 calories every decade past 30 years. Those sick with a fever, adolescents and pregnant women, people living in a cold climate and menstruating women all need more calories. Those with naturally low levels of thyroid hormone and leptin, a protein that regulates metabolism, need fewer calories.
- American College of Sports Medicine: Factors that Affect Daily Calorie Needs
- The American Council on Exercise: Calculate Your Calories Burned
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Managament: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger
- Huffington Post: Sleep Deprivation Could Up Calorie Intake – But the Reason Why Could Differ for Men and Women
- Sleep: Short-Term Sleep Duration, Glucose Dysregulation and Hormonal Regulation of Appetite in Men and Women
- College of the Canyons: Calories