Most of us have heard the phrase “Based on a 2,000 calorie diet.” This is a bit misleading because there are people who need more than 2,000 calories, and there are a whole lot of us that need less than 2,000 calories.
We eat foods to put calories in our bodies that convert to energy and serve as our fuel. Our bodies burn calories doing normal daily activities, such as, breathing, sweating, sleeping and sitting. Doing extra activities like biking, running, hiking, weight lifting, dancing, etc… burns extra calories. However, it’s common that an active person will over estimate calories burned and subsequently intake an over abundance of empty calories, foods that are high in calories but do not have essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fiber.
If you are thinking, “I jogged 20 minutes on the treadmill, I can afford to eat devil’s food cake after dinner,” your thinking may be a little backwards. A 20-minute jog may burn around 180-200 calories, depending how fast you are jogging. That devil’s food slice of cake will equate to over 300 calories. Essentially, the burned calories were put right back into your body plus a few more.
Typically, it is the performance athletes who train for triathlons, marathons and races, who need added nutrition. If this is you, please talk to your dietitian about setting up a nutrition plan. Most people are getting moderate amounts of activity 4-5 days a week – for that level of activity extra calories are unnecessary for fuel. Stay hydrated, eat a balanced diet, and remember “everything in moderation.”