The amount of food you eat at each meal is very individual, as this depends on:
- Your gender
- Your age
- Your weight
- Your height
- Your activity level (how much you exercise)
- Your wishes (to maintain, lose or gain weight)
Based on your gender, age, weight and height, your BMR can be calculated. Your BMR indicates how much energy your body needs to function properly. In other words, it is the energy your body uses at rest. It is imperative that you take in this amount of energy every day.
If your energy intake is lower than your BMR, we speak of malnutrition. Your body does not get enough energy and reacts. Because it is not receiving the necessary energy, it wants to protect itself against a shortage. Consequently, all the calories (= energy) that you take in are converted into fat and stored as such. In this way your body builds up a reserve.
How is it that your body continues to function? Because it breaks down your muscle mass and converts it into energy.
You will not notice much of this right away, but over time you will become weaker, feel tired, poorly in general, and your mood will also deteriorate. You may even become depressed.
If, for example, you are ill and therefore cannot eat properly for a few days, then there is no problem at all. Your body has built up enough reserves to get you through a few days, but the "malnutrition" must not drag on. If you notice that you are not able to eat a sufficient quantity, ask an expert for advice (a nutritionist to help you find the right diet or your doctor to examine whether there is a medical cause).
If you eat more than your BMR, that's not a problem of course, because you still move around during the day. We only speak of "overeating" when you very often eat more than you burn (=BMR + exercise throughout the day).
So unless you want to gain weight, try not to take in many more calories (=energy) than you burn. More on this later, when we discuss "gaining weight".
- Translated from Dutch by Tamara Swalef -