Why 1500 Calories is a Crock of Shit

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Let’s start at the beginning, you have been told a lie about how many calories you need to be “healthy”.

Health means thriving in your body. Health does not mean fitting into a certain size, staying between a specific weight range, or being able to run x many miles/day.

The dieting industry including various health and fitness magazines, articles, blogs, and books have educated the public about how many calories women should eat in a day. Usually these amounts range from 1200-1500 calories/ day.  Clients come in to my office telling me that they can’t eat more than this because they will gain weight, and also reasoning: “it’s not what’s recommended so why should I eat more?”

You must know that this is a CROCK OF SHIT. Healthy women need more than 1500 calories/day. Research shows women of normal weight and healthy BMI’s eat between 2200-2700 per day if they are active (active meaning you exercise ~ 45 minutes/day) and between 2000-2500 if you are sedentary. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/99/1/71/4577371

You need calories in order to maintain a weight that supports your body and all the metabolic processes it goes through every day. These metabolic processes are things that we can’t see but are happening behind the scenes. Things like a functioning hypothalamus that communicates to our hormones to produce estrogen to maintain your reproductive system, a humming thyroid that communicates how quickly you should use the energy in your body, and synthesis of amino acids to create healthy hair and skin that continues to grow and regenerate.

I know what you’re thinking. But I don’t eat that much and I maintain my weight. If I were to eat that much I would keep gaining weight forever!

No and no. Your body will adjust to increased caloric intake and eventually level off at its set point. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/127/9/1875S/4728914. What disrupts this set point? You guessed it: Dieting and restriction. So eating less than what your body needs, which we just determined is at least between 2200-2700 calories per/day will actually lower your basal metabolic rate, which means you MAINTAIN YOUR WEIGHT BY EATING LESS CALORIES. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/52/1/81/4695458

This sucks. Doesn’t it sound nice to eat more, maintain your weight, and not worry about every morsel of food that passes your lips? If so stay with me…all hope is not lost. You can get your body back to taking in its’ needed caloric requirements without gaining more weight than what your body needs.  Notice I said what your body needs.

If you start eating more calories and your weight increases, that means that your body did not like the weight you artificially kept it at. You may have dieted or restricted calories in the past putting your body at an artificially lower weight than what it actually wants to be. Giving yourself more calories will cause your body to say a big “fuck yeah!! We are finally going to get to a weight that is sustainable and healthy for us.”

I know this sounds scary, especially if you are someone who is overly concerned about the shape/ weight of your body. If you’ve dieted and lost weight, then regained weight, then restricted again, your body is a little confused on what your set point is. But if you eat what your body needs you will eventually level off at your set point. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5053237/)

Getting to your set point weight involves trusting your body. Which, when you’ve dieted or hated your body for years is difficult to do. Working with a trusted professional is helpful to get your body back to getting the calories it wants and needs. And who doesn’t love eating more?

Next time you see another headline saying “Follow this 1400 calorie diet guideline to get the body you want” run the other way.  And know that this is a complete crock of shit.