I came across a very interesting piece of info the other day, which I’ve since verified with my veterinary sources: The average cat needs about 200-400 calories a day.
Why should you care?
Let’s look at the evidence…
If you happen to be the guardian (I hate the word “owner”) of an animal, go to your kitchen and check the calories on the nutrition facts label for his food. I’ll wait.
Back already? Surprise: there was no such nutrition facts label, was there?
In fact, manufacturers never put the caloric content on the label of dog food or cat food.
They do, however, tell you how many cups or cans to feed your animal companion, and guess what- it’s always more than they need.
I think the exact same thing is going on with us two-legged folks.
Animal food manufacturers are no different than human food manufacturers. They’re in the business of- big surprise- selling food and they want you to use a lot of it. As someone who has had and loved dogs for a decade, I can tell you that if I fed my very healthy and trim dogs anything like the number of cups a day the dogwood manufacturers recommend, they’d look like balloons.
Now granted, I feed them very expensive, high-nutrient food. But guess what- they don’t need that much of it.
Just like us.
Lesson learned anyone?
I believe- and this is just my opinion, but when I go to nutrition conferences I find it’s widely shared among health professionals- that most people believe they “need” far more calories than they actually do.
Calorie calculators available on the internet (many based on the classic Harris-Benedict equation) will give you a calorie amount that is too high by at least 200 calories. For example, I put in the following data at one well-known site for calculating calories: Woman, 35 years old, 5’3”, 145 pounds. The calculator told me I needed 1706 calories to maintain my weight.
Maybe. But my experience tells me that’s a guaranteed recipe for weight gain.
When I talk to health professionals around the country, the formula that keeps coming up for weight loss is really simple: take your goal weight and multiply by 10. Our 145-pound woman who wants to lose a couple of pounds would be well advised to aim for no more than 1450 calories, and that’s with exercise!
Most people have no idea of how many calories they should be consuming let alone what they are actually taking in. While calories are not- repeat not– the whole picture when it comes to weight loss, they still count. Try the goal weight times 10 equation and see what you get.
And before you tell me you’d starve on so few calories, let me point out that every species studied so far has extended life by cutting calories by about 25%.
Remember, it’s a lot easier to feel full and satisfied- and get all your nutritional needs met- if you eat the human equivalent of my dog’s expensive chow rather than the cheap supermarket brand. That means high-nutrient foods like lean proteins, tons of vegetables, healthy fat (no trans-fats) and some fruits. Bar-code foods… not so much.
As my friend Barry Sears, PhD has said many times, it’s simple. Most men will lose on 1500-1800 calories and most women will lose on 1250-1400.