Are You Eating Enough Calories?
Updated: Apr 6
So often in my practice, I see women under-eating calories. Sometimes, women eat even a thousand calories less than what they truly should be eating in a day.
I will be one of the first to acknowledge that there is often a hyper fixation on caloric restriction in the wellness world. Many of you already know that I am unconventional in my wellness approach. Still, I want to explain why we should not aim for restriction and why we should be aware of how many calories our bodies need.
The purpose of nutrition is to deliver calories and nutrients to the body. I say this all the time, but I will repeat it: calorie restriction is nutrient restriction! To experience the energy and vitality that you long to feel, you must eat enough calories.
Use this calculator to determine your caloric needs:
The calorie tool above is intended to help you get a baseline of your caloric needs. I understand that some do desire to lose weight, which is ok and even healthy under certain circumstances. If you want to use this calculator to understand what calories should look like in light of losing weight, please give yourself one week for every pound you want to lose. In my practice, when I help women lose weight, it does not all come down to calories, but that is a part of the equation. I do not suggest aiming to lose more than 2 pounds a week due to safety concerns.
Now that you see how many calories your body technically needs, you might be asking: how do I know if I am eating enough, and how do I increase if I am not eating enough?
Let's address those questions.
Here's how you can know if you are eating enough: track your intake! I know that it might sound archaic and boring, but part of knowing if you are eating enough does trace back to basic math. I suggest using Chronometer (https://cronometer.com) to track over MyFitnessPal - it's more accurate and a friendlier way to view calorie intake.
How can you increase calories: start slowly!
Follow these three steps:
Eat normally for three days and track what you are eating.
Notice discrepancies between different eating days (i.e., you eat 2500 calories on one day, but 1300 the next, when you should be eating around 2100 calories every day. Going a little above (towards 2500) is ok for most, but going too low (a thousand under, for example) will cause your body not to have enough energy for the given day.
If you are low, start by focusing on adding in 100 more calories every day per week until you have reached your required amount. If you are hungrier for more, then feel free to increase. The 100 calorie suggestion is a minimum suggestion!
(Please keep in mind that if you have been restricting for a long time and are eating very little, you might need 1:1 help to help you reach a significant caloric increase. It is possible to get to a better place on your own, but moving too quickly can cause a lot of stress for some due to weight changes that can happen.)