Nutrition3rd October 2016

Is There An Optimal Calorie Intake?

What is calorie intake?

Caloric intake is the number of calories an individual consumes – usually determined on a daily basis.

What is optimal calorie intake?

This is a challenging question to answer without a reference point. To understand optimal, we need to understand the objective. For example, weight loss is a common objective for which you could calculate an optimal calorie intake.

Is it possible to calculate your optimal calorie requirements?

Yes. Simple (and complex) formulas exist for calculating daily calorie requirements. Almost all of these use measurements such as weight, height and age to calculate resting metabolic rate and subsequently, daily calorie requirements.

Are these calculations accurate?

Without longer term monitoring of health, it’s impossible to determine the accuracy of such calculations for each individual. More importantly, the fate and subsequent health outcomes of eating food (calories) is dependent on a number of factors, including food composition, presence of other foods, when the food is eaten, and the current nutritional and metabolic status of the individual. For example, consuming a certain number of calories immediately after exercise will result in a different physiological change compared to eating the same amount when not exercising.

So if calories aren’t important to health, what is?

While the determination of the optimal calorie intake requirements may be useful in some clinical settings, it is largely irrelevant for most health-seeking individuals. It’s important to understand that our bodies are hard-wired with specific involuntary mechanisms that keep us alive and healthy. Because our physiology is constantly changing, these mechanisms automatically respond to maintain balance. These mechanisms include control of breathing, sleeping and weight. These self-regulated systems are always switched on and provide us with noticeable cues when they become disrupted. For example, when we are hungry, we eat more. When we are full, we stop eating. Unfortunately, we have lost awareness of these simple cues, and it’s starting to negatively impact our health and fitness.

What is EVO’s position on calorie intake?

At EVO, our focus is on listening to the body and re-connecting to the physical cues that signpost to our physiology and health. As you start to tune in more to the physical sensations of hunger, thirst, mood, stress, and fatigue, you can re-learn to optimize your metabolism and energy levels, without the need to focus unnecessarily on optimal calorie intake. As your metabolic and nutritional status improves on a system-wide scale, so too will your control of weight.