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Do You Really Need to Consume 2,000 Calories a Day? Understanding Food Labels.

Do You Really Need to Consume 2,000 Calories a Day? Understanding Food Labels.

“Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.”
If you’re in the habit of reading nutrition labels, no doubt you’re familiar with these words.

But this number is confusing … 2,000 calories! Who eats that much? Or, maybe you’re saying, “who eats that little?”

Let’s pull apart this mystery number a bit, starting with who sets the 2,000 calorie diet.

Uncle Sam, the Chef

In the United States, the 2,000 calories-a-day-number originates from what is known as the 1968 Recommended Daily Allowances. This benchmark was established as a guideline so consumers could be aware of the proper balance of nutrients required for healthy living regardless of age and sex.

In other words, whether you’re a 10-year-old child weighing 60 pounds, or a 215-pound man in your mid-twenties, these guidelines were designed to cover everyone. Basic health requirements are what they were shooting for here.

Once the government agreed on how much of every nutrient every human needed for basic health, they needed to extrapolate the information into easy-to-understand percentages. The only way to do that was to reduce the math down to a single caloric number that would apply to everyone (child and adult alike) … and thus, we’ve ended up with 
2,000 as our suggested caloric number.

Less or more?

Now that you’re aware the 2,000 number is simply a guideline meant as nutritional insurance, how do you figure out what is best for you?

Some suggest simply monitoring the scale and your fluctuations in weight should be enough guidance.

However, a vast majority of others would disagree. After all, you could eat 2,000 calories of junk food and not lead a healthy life. Or you could eat only healthy food, feel full all day, and not get enough calories.

The best way to find out how many calories you need to consume is to get a little scientific.

First, figure out your BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate.
Here’s the deal on BMR. Make sure you find a calculator that allows you to run the numbers taking your activity level into consideration. Here are three we like:
Harris Benedect
Calorie Calculator
Once you get a picture as to what works for you, you’ll get better results when you diet or exercise.

And, getting that number correct is important!  Just check out the 
drastic differences in needed calories in this group!
Bottom line? It depends on you, and your needs.

Curious as to what 2,000 calories looks like? Here’s a fun little video to help you visualize. 
3.8 Big Macs, anyone?