This image popped up on my screen yesterday and made me completely stop what I was doing. 1,200 calories is what is suggested Females eat if they are looking to keep within a healthy weight/BMI range but it clearly does not take into account a woman’s age, weight, height, activity level nor metabolic rate. I used to stress about trying to keep within the 1,200-1,500 calorie range. Sometimes, I would even cap it at 1,450 calories. You are probably saying “But why is that bad?” Right?
Ok, here is some perspective for you. I am approximately 5’5″/5’5″6– my dad swears I am 5’6″ but a former co-worker swore he was 5’6″ and that I was 5’4″ so just to be on the safe side let’s say 5’5″. So about 2 or so years ago I am a 24-year-old female, standing at approximately 5’5″, and weighing anywhere from 160-170 pounds. Now, say I work out about 5 times per week. My BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), which is based on how many calories my body needs if I were to only rest for 24 hours, would be approximately 1600-1700 if I am at the higher end of that scale. If I am moving around and working out within those 24 hours, then my TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) is somewhere around 2000-2500 calories.
That is WAY more than 1,200 or even 1,450. These numbers are of course up for debate, and dependent on what calculator you use (I used the IIFYM calculator because I feel it is the most similar in terms of what personal trainers have suggested I eat for my activity level). What I am saying is, 1,200 seems too little and eating too little can be a serious problem. It can be an even bigger problem if you are eating too little but trying to lose weight and/or working out. Eating too little can result in an Eating Disorder or even metabolic damage, which would then make it even harder for someone to lose weight, burn fat or build muscle.
Eating more seems counterintuitive. I still struggle with the idea that I should in fact be eating more food to burn fat and build muscle. Sometimes I will cut back to 3 or 4 meals because I simply cannot be bothered to make food, or I feel a little bit under the weather so I think “Well, it will help me get thinner anyway.” Except the complete opposite happens. Since my body is not getting enough food, it wants to hold on to the little bit of food it does get. So guess what? My fat stays put. And sometimes, more fat joins the party. “Grrr. That wasn’t the plan!” Womp womp! Your body doesn’t care. It wants fuel. And food is fuel. And if you do not get enough food, your body is not getting what it wants so you do not get what you want either.
From here on out, I vow to stop short changing my body! Who’s with me?