Many Americans clueless of how many calories they do or should eat

Have you guys seen this report? At the bottom I will give you a quick guideline on how to calculate the calories you should consume per day whether you want to lose weight or maintain it.

By Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY

Most people don’t know their own number.

That is, they don’t know how many calories they should consume in a day to maintain their current weight, a nationally representative online survey of 1,024 people shows.

In fact, 63% can’t accurately estimate the number, 25% won’t even venture a guess and only 12% can nail it.

“People need to know their numbers,” says registered dietitian Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak of the International Food Information Council Foundation, an education group supported by the food, beverage and agricultural industries. The foundation paid for the survey.

Having some frame of reference could be an important first step in tackling your weight, she says. “There is confusion on all sides of the calorie equation. People don’t know how many calories they should consume in a day, and even more are unclear how many they burn.”

There’s a reason for this: Calorie requirements are unique to each person, and how many you need depends on your gender, age, height and physical activity level, Reinhardt Kapsak says. “Adult calorie requirements can range from 1,400 to 1,600 a day for a small sedentary woman to 4,000 or more calories a day for a highly trained endurance athlete.”

Your output must equal your input or you’ll gain weight, but 58% of respondents say they don’t try to balance the calories they consume with those they burn, she says.

These findings don’t surprise Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian in Chicago and a nutrition blogger at She has noticed her patients don’t know much about the topic. “Nobody knows how many calories they should be eating, nobody knows how many they are eating, and nobody knows how many calories are in foods,” she says. “I would say it’s beyond calorie-confused. It’s calorie-oblivious.”

She says some simple calorie know-how would go a long way toward helping people lose or maintain their weight. “I don’t teach people calorie counting. I teach them calorie consciousness.”

Other survey findings:

•70% of people say they are concerned about their weight.

•54% say they are trying to lose weight; 23% are trying to maintain; 19% are doing nothing; and 4% are trying to gain weight.

•Of those trying to lose or maintain weight, most say they are changing the amount and types of food they eat and doing physical activity; 65% say weight loss is the main reason they’re eating better.

•Among roadblocks people give for not sticking with weight loss attempts: lack of willpower, lack of time, not seeing results quickly and boredom.

•77% don’t meet the government’s guidelines of 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.

Okay, bring your calculators out, get a note pad and pencil:


Total Daily Calories = Bodyweight times 12
this may need to be dropped to x11 or x10 if no progress after a few weeks

Would you like to track your calories? I use or another good one is If you do some kind of weight lifting, I recommend you do this macronutrients breakdown:

Protein = 1g per lb bodyweight (BW)
(4 calories per gram)
can go up to 1.5g if desired

Fat = .4-.5g per lb BW
(9 calories per gram)
yes, you read that right, healthy fats are important for fat loss

Carbs = whatever remains to meet your calorie total
(4 calories per gram)

For MAINTAINING your current weight:
Total Daily Calories = Bodyweight times 15
Or adjust a little up or down depending on your metabolism.

Avoid fat in your PWO (postwork out) meal, which should be fast-acting carbs and protein in a 2:1 ratio.

Let me know if you have any questions. I don’t want to overwhelm you at this moment with more information lol!

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  • 07/14/2010 - 10:11 pm

    Christine - Well look at you Ms. Crafty one! :) I was at Fry’s today and found the wonderful White Chocolate and Dark Chocolate peanut betters you have talked about. I ended up buying the Hazelnut (right next to White/Dark Chocolates)and that one is a bit lower in calories/total fat. It is SO YUMMY! I thought I would throw that one out there to share with you and your readers!

    Your Salad looked really yummy! I am going to try that one! Thanks Ana!ReplyCancel

  • 07/15/2010 - 3:04 am

    Ana C. - Hi Chris! I have not tried the Hazelnut but I think I will now after your review. I think I need to give my White Chocolate one a break lol! Thanks for posting!ReplyCancel

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