How much do I need to eat in one day?
Calculating calorie needs can be tricky and very individualized. Not everyone has access to a registered dietitian, so an easy way to determine daily calorie needs is the “calories in - calories out” method. The goal of this method is to balance the calories from food and drinks with the calories burned throughout the day. To easily figure out your average calories burned, you can use a health app on any smart phone or fitness tracker. These devices can do complex calculations to determine how many calories you burn through the body’s natural processes and physical activity. Once the average calories-burned is calculated, these devices can estimate the number of calories you should consume to gain, maintain, or lose weight.
What do I need to eat in a day?
In one day, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming 2 servings of fruit (about 1 cup or 2 light bulb-sized whole fruits), 3 cups of vegetables, 5-6 ounces of protein, and 3 cups of dairy. In addition, aim to consume 6-7 ounces of grains, with at least half from whole grains. To simplify these guidelines, follow the MyPlate method! This method focuses on the 5 food groups while ensuring adequate portion size and nutrient intake. Instead of excluding entire food groups, as many diets do, the MyPlate method emphasizes eating a wide variety of foods.
Try these tips for following MyPlate:
- Make half your plate vegetables and fruits to fuel your body with vitamins and minerals it needs to function at its best. These foods also tend to be lower in calories, allowing you to eat more volume to help reach a feeling of fullness.
- Be creative and eat fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors. Think outside of the box when cooking, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different foods and methods. Steam, roast, grill, sauté, broil, or bake, and try cooking with a new vegetable!
- Focus on eating whole grains rather than refined grains such as white rice, white flour, white bread, cakes, cookies, and dessert snacks. Unlike refined grains, whole grains contain the entire grain kernel, which is packed with nutrients including iron, dietary fiber, and essential B vitamins. The Dietary Guidelines recommend you eat between 25-38 grams of fiber each day, and whole grains help to achieve this. Whole grains can be found in whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, and many more sources.
- Try a variety of protein sources. Protein helps build muscle and creates a feeling of fullness. Many people think of protein as meat, but it can be found in an assortment of other sources! Mix it up and try some seafood, beans, tofu, nuts, eggs, or poultry as the main dish in your meals.
- Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy options to limit saturated fat intake while still getting the essential nutrients of dairy such as calcium, protein, and vitamin D.
Finding a healthy eating regimen that works for your lifestyle and family can be difficult, but the MyPlate method helps ensure you are consuming the appropriate amount of nutrients you need to fuel your body to become a healthier you!
Try making half your plate fruits and veggies at each meal. For an extra challenge, experiment with a new vegetable or fruit to add variety and color!
- Healthy Eating Made Easier. Dairy Council of California. https://www.healthyeating.org
- Men and Women. Choose MyPlate. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/men-and-women.
- Ten Tips to Choose MyPlate. Choose MyPlate. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-choose-myplate.