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How Many Calories Are You Supposed To Have A Day? 24 Hour Assumption Means Horrible Question

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Last updated on October 16, 2020

How Many Calories Are You Supposed To Have A Day?

It’s a great topic that I as a San Jose Eating Disorder Therapist will be covering today.

This question might seem like an innocent question – but with unfortunate consequences.

Here’s why – you shouldn’t have a set # of calories per day.

Wait, don’t all the doctors say to have a certain number of calories per day?

Yes, the doctors all say that.

But the problem is … humans evolved to regulate their weight over a longer period of time than 24 hours.

Because the question – which I get all the time – is phrased like this so commonly …

I know that people are thinking they have to ‘hit their target’ so to speak.

Do you have a target you’re aiming for?

Say 1500 calories a day?

So that’s 1500*7 days = 10,500 calories per week, correct?

That’s how you should think of it.

Instead of shooting for 1500 per day …

A better way is to think in terms of 10500 per week.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have some other problems with how calories are traditionally counted and I believe you should do things much differently than what most people do.

I outline my thoughts in this article here.

Or, you can read this SELF article about calorie counting to learn more.

But today I am focusing on the erroneous assumption of 24 hours.

I used to work as a personal trainer. I would tell people to use this calorie calculator to measure their calories.

(This was before I did a 180 and completely changed my eating philosophy)

But people would tell me they either:

  • Got too bored of calorie counting
  • They found it too tedious
  • or they would try to log at the end of the day but forget what they would eat

As I kept seeing people report these horrible results, I started questioning my eating philosophy.

I discovered that the very premise of the question “How Many Calories Are You Supposed To Have A Day?” assumes you are operating in a 24 hour time period.

You have 24 hours to get your number of calories.

And no more!

So … How Many Calories Are You Supposed To Have A Day?

Some days you’ll have more …

Other days you’ll have less…

And that’s ok.

When you think in terms of daily limits, you set yourself up for the What-The-Hell Effect.

You say, Oh, I did bad today so I’ll screw up and say screw it and just go big time!

Because … tomorrow I’ll reset.

Have you ever thought that tomorrow you’ll just reset?

Well, that’s the 24 hour time period at work!

It’s giving you an excuse to binge eat!