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Why 2,000 Calories Per Day is Probably Not a Good Idea for You

15
Jul

Why 2,000 Calories Per Day is Probably Not a Good Idea for You

Good Afternoon Ladies!  Today I want to discuss the 2,000 calorie per day recommendation, and how it applies to you.

On every, (and I mean EVERY) food label you see, the following statement will be shown.  “*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.”  What does this mean?  Why did they choose 2,000?  How does it apply to me?

The history is best described as the following:

“The FDA wanted consumers to be able to compare the amounts of saturated fat and sodium to the maximum amounts recommended for a day’s intake–the Daily Values.  Because the allowable limits would vary according to the number of calories consumed, the FDA needed benchmarks for average calorie consumption, even though calorie requirements vary according to body size and other individual characteristics.

From USDA food consumption surveys of that era, the FDA knew that women typically reported consuming 1,600 to 2,200 calories a day, men 2,000 to 3,000, and children 1,800 to 2,500. But stating ranges on food labels would take up too much space and did not seem particularly helpful. The FDA proposed using a single standard of daily calorie intake–2,350 calories per day, based on USDA survey data. The agency requested public comments on this proposal and on alternative figures: 2,000, 2,300, and 2,400 calories per day.

Despite the observable fact that 2,350 calories per day is below the average requirements for either men or women obtained from doubly labeled water experiments, most of the people who responded to the comments judged the proposed benchmark too high. Nutrition educators worried that it would encourage overconsumption, be irrelevant to women who consume fewer calories, and permit overstatement of acceptable levels of “eat less” nutrients such as saturated fat and sodium. Instead, they proposed 2,000 calories as:

  • consistent with widely used food plans
  • close to the calorie requirements for postmenopausal women, the population group most prone to weight gain
  • a reasonably rounded-down value from 2,350 calories
  • easier to use than 2,350 and, therefore, a better tool for nutrition education

Whether a rounding down of nearly 20 percent is reasonable or not, the FDA ultimately viewed these arguments as persuasive. It agreed that 2,000 calories per day would be more likely to make it clear that people needed to tailor dietary recommendations to their own diets. The FDA wanted people to understand that they must adjust calorie intake according to age, sex, activity, and life stage. It addressed the adjustment problem by requiring the percent Daily Value footnote on food labels for diets of 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day, the range of average values reported in dietary intake surveys”  -(theatlantic.com)

In short, the 2,000 calories is an average for all people in the United States.  “It’s close to the calorie requirements for postmenopausal women, the population group most prone to weight gain”   

The FDA wanted a standardized format to show nutritional values such as carbohydrates, sodium, added sugars etc.  It’s not a recommendation or a target!

Many of my new clients think that if they eat 1,800 calories per day, they’ll have a caloric deficit of 200 calories per day.  Understandably they can get frustrated when they realize that 1,800 calories per day may in fact lead to weight gain! 

The best way to cut through the confusion is to find you basal metabolic rate.  Simply put, your BMR estimates the minimum number of calories a person needs to burn to sustain their basic life functions during a 24 hour period of rest.  Examples of such functions include breathing and circulation.  Your activity level will determine how many additional calories your body needs.

Many of my clients BMR is 1500-1800.  My husband’s BMR is over 2400.  Without getting too in depth, your body muscle mass and other factors will correlate with how many calories you burn per day.

Make sure you read every label.  There’s a wealth of information there.  Just realize that standard label information is informational.  You’ll need to take that information and adapt it to your body. 

Want to find our what your BMR is?  (it’s a perfect way to start out any type of fitness/eating plan)  We can help!  Check out our website www.fitgirlfit.com and let’s chat!