“How much should I be eating?”

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“I am currently using an app to help me lose weight. It has me on a 1,390-calorie-per-day diet (based on my height and weight), but I’m having a really hard time following that and not going over. Am I eating enough?” – Kim

Expert: Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD, author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

Without knowing your height and weight, I can only take an educated guess. First off, if you are having a hard time following the diet, then it’s not for you! For most of my female clients who exercise, I suggest 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day, and about 2,000 to 2,400 for athletes who are training hard and want to lose undesired body fat. A 1,400-calorie diet is lower than I would recommend even for a sedentary couch potato!

Slow weight loss via a small daily caloric deficit provides you with enough energy to exercise and function effectively in your daily life. Remember that semi-starvation diets tend to backfire: while you may lose weight quickly through sheer willpower and white-knuckling your way through hunger pangs, research suggests you will gain it back – plus more – in a short amount of time.

Rather than rely on an app, I highly recommend you get personalized help by meeting with a sports dietitian in person. To find a local professional, try using the referral network found at scandpg.org.

Weight loss is far more complex than “eat less and exercise more.” If losing weight was simple, then everyone who has ever been on a diet would be thin. Not the case!

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