Eating too much over a long period of time can have disastrous consequences on your health. Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of diseases such as:

heart disease
high blood pressure
Sleep Apnea
gallbladder disease

One of the keys to losing weight is to consume fewer calories than you expend. But how do you know if you are eating too much or too little?

In short

Gender, age and activity level influence the recommended daily calorie intake.
To lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn each day.
Beware of any diet that severely limits what you can or cannot eat or drink.
Avoid diets that severely limit the amount of calories you eat unless you are under medical supervision.

How many calories should you consume?

Following daily calorie intake:

Person Calories per day
Women 19-51 1,800-2,400
Men 19-51 2,200-3,000
Children and adolescents aged 2 to 18 1,000-3,200
The recommended calorie count varies by gender, age, and activity level. People who lead a more active lifestyle or those who want to gain weight will need to consume more calories.

How to lose weight

If you want to lose weight, the answer is simple, at least in theory. You should eat fewer calories than you consume each day. Once you find your suggested calorie level, subtract about 500 calories, which will allow you to lose about a pound a week. But beware, diets that advocate very low calorie intake, usually less than 800 to 1,000 calories per day, can have significant negative side effects, such as:

Rapid weight loss can also cause gallstones. The risk is particularly high in women.

To help you figure out how many calories you’re eating, write down what you eat each day. Make a list in a notebook or use one of the many free calorie counters available online.

Remember to eat a healthy balance of:

dairy products
healthy fats
Limit the amount of added sugar you consume each day.

Things to watch out for

While any food eaten in large quantities can cause you to exceed your calorie goal, some are more difficult to control than others. Foods high in fat or sugar, and those that digest quickly, can lead to overconsumption. Foods such as the following can quickly add inches to your waistline if portions are not controlled:

processed grains such as pasta and cereals high in sugar
fried foods
salad dressing

To make sure you don’t inadvertently eat a high-calorie food, check the nutrition label on the back of the package. Pay attention to the portion size. Avoid eating foods that contain a lot of “empty calories”. These are usually foods high in fats and sugars, but with little or no other nutrients. When eating out, ask for nutrition and calorie information about foods on the menu. And remember, you don’t have to finish everything on your plate. You can always take leftovers home to snack on later.

Go on a smart diet

Shock diets are very low-calorie diets that aim to lose weight quickly. They are naturally out of balance and can actually cause long term health issues. These health issues include:

suppressing your immune system
slowing down your metabolism
the dehydration
permanent heart problems, if repeated.

Cleanses can also be dangerous if carried out for an extended period, such as more than three to five days. These are often liquid-based diets:

lemon juice
Cayenne pepper

Cleanses are based on the mistaken assumption that the body needs help getting rid of toxins. Not only are these diets ineffective, but they can also be dangerous. According to the American Heart Association, a recent study found that yo-yo dieting increased the risk of heart attack in women by 3.5 times. Weight cycling also increased the risk of dying from coronary heart disease by 66%.

Beware of anything that severely limits what you can or cannot eat or drink, or that severely restricts the number of calories you consume. The best way to lose weight is to do it slowly, which means no more than a pound or two a week. Think about how long it took you to gain weight. It will usually take you the same amount of time, or even longer, to lose.

Take away

The number of daily calories your body needs depends on a variety of factors, including your genetics, gender, age, weight, body composition, and activity level. If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you use. If you decide to follow a specific diet, beware if it severely limits your food choices or the number of calories you can consume.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.