1

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How many calories should I consume as a 22 year old active female?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created April 26, 2013 at 12:51 AM

I am a 22 year old female who trains 5-6 days a week with running (cf endurance), crossfit, and yoga. I'd say I train about 6-8 hours a week. I have been paleo for a few years now but have recently become even more strict (less cheat meals) and never ever any dairy. How many calories should I be consuming daily? I can't seem to find a balance; I am either too hungry or too full off of protein. I have been aiming for 1500-1800 daily- is this too much, or too little? I want to maintain weight and perform well athletically.

4e244c1d8d337117caac07b6dc2f66f4

(15)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

I hear you about spending time with people. It actually doesn't take time away from that, surprisingly. I workout after work and take the weekends off for socializing.

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on May 20, 2013
at 08:04 PM

It's never TMI here on PaleoHacks :) I had pretty bad IBS too, it was so bad I "celebrated" holidays alone at home because I was afraid of having accidents around family. We are all different but some other things that helped me:

Fd7b128cf714044a86d8bd822c7a8992

(4292)

on April 27, 2013
at 11:35 AM

If you have IBS and have trouble with bloating, have you tried eyeballing your body fat by looking at other areas? I use the layer of fat under my chin; it's much more accurate because on a bad bloat day I can look 6mos pregnant despite being at quite a low weight for me. If I went by my stomach I'd drive myself crazy!

4e244c1d8d337117caac07b6dc2f66f4

(15)

on April 26, 2013
at 08:32 PM

No, it was a good answer. I look good on 1800 calories and feel pretty energetic.

4e244c1d8d337117caac07b6dc2f66f4

(15)

on April 26, 2013
at 08:31 PM

I want to keep low carb Paleo...someone suggested adding more fat. Also, I find eating extra veggies (more than 5 servings) bothers my stomach (I have irritable bowel syndrome, sorry, TMI).

4e244c1d8d337117caac07b6dc2f66f4

(15)

on April 26, 2013
at 08:26 PM

My appetite isn't the problem! I can eat a whole cow! It just hurts my stomach when I do because I have irritable bowel syndrome (TMI-sorry). I can try adding more fat to get in more calories because I like keeping the low carb paleo going (only 2 fruits a day and then low GI veggies with a sweet potato every once in a while). I am 5' 5" and have wide shoulders and hips and am not as muscular as you but pretty built because of my activity level. I'd say my weight is evenly dispersed, though. My job isn't sedentary thank gosh!

4e244c1d8d337117caac07b6dc2f66f4

(15)

on April 26, 2013
at 08:20 PM

The "extra layer" could be skin or bloat (I have irritable bowel syndrome- sorry TMI). Thanks for the lengthy reply! I am very hard on myself and it could just be my imagination. The 1500 calories come from only fruit, veggies, healthy fats and lean meats.

4e244c1d8d337117caac07b6dc2f66f4

(15)

on April 26, 2013
at 08:16 PM

I'm low carb. Usually fruit at breakfast and after a workout, sweet potato a couple times a week, and then mostly low carb veggies like spinach, zucchini, broccoli, etc. I just feel like I gain fat when I eat that many calories a day.

4e244c1d8d337117caac07b6dc2f66f4

(15)

on April 26, 2013
at 08:11 PM

It just seems I gain fat when I eat more than 2000 a day. Great advice!

4e244c1d8d337117caac07b6dc2f66f4

(15)

on April 26, 2013
at 08:10 PM

What?! You're kidding...

618fc5298c4a96b817c4918c795a875f

(1217)

on April 26, 2013
at 05:37 PM

I second this advice, especially when it comes to spending time with the people who mean most to you!

A0c6d1e41fc0441b593a05050aefada7

(342)

on April 26, 2013
at 01:07 PM

I'm 118 pounds and 5'6.

A0c6d1e41fc0441b593a05050aefada7

(342)

on April 26, 2013
at 01:07 PM

I'm two years older than you, don't exercise that much unless if you count walking, and consume about 3000 cals a day.

0b7c3e7fd96005f0b2dfd781e512fc2e

(1237)

on April 26, 2013
at 12:04 PM

Not to mention I put coconut oil on EVERYTHING. Mmmm!

0b7c3e7fd96005f0b2dfd781e512fc2e

(1237)

on April 26, 2013
at 12:04 PM

You mention you're either too hungry or feel too full of protein. Why not eat more calories from non-protein sources? I eat less than 100g protein per day but still make up about 2000kcal from veggies, fruit, raw chocolate and stuff.

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on April 26, 2013
at 05:08 AM

Example (when I was sedentary): 9 oz skirt steak, 2 cups vegetables, cooked in 3 tbsp tallow. 9oz salmon, 2 cups vegetables, cooked in 3 tbsp coconut oil. Example (now that I'm more active): All that, plus snacks like fruit salad, avocados, etc, OR a 3rd meal.

4e244c1d8d337117caac07b6dc2f66f4

(15)

on April 26, 2013
at 01:25 AM

Thanks. I am not trying to lose weight, but am always looking to lean out. I am 120lb, 5'5" and pretty muscular, but feel I always have an extra layer of fat on my midsection even at my calorie intake now, but I can't imagine eating any less than 1500!!

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8 Answers

1
5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on April 26, 2013
at 05:14 PM

Seems like you're working out a lot, but you mention you have "an extra layer of fat" on your midsection. Sounds like you may be overtraining/underfeeding yourself.

When you continually eat fewer calories than your body requires, you are doing two things:

  1. First, you???re applying a chronic stressor to your body. A lack of calories for weeks or months signals starvation. It???s a chronic stressor that will impede weight loss and promote fat storage.
  2. Second, eating fewer calories gives you less of a chance to obtain the micronutrients you need for optimal functioning.

All said and done, a 3,000 calorie diet will have more minerals, phytonutrients, and vitamins than a 1,500 calorie diet. Make sure you???re eating enough food.

If you're serious about leaning out (which by the sounds of your workout schedule, you are) then you need to take a step back and start thinking long term. Habits like working out like a mad woman and not eating enough food combined will lead to some serious health issues down the road, not to mention make you feel miserable and exhausted (and probably overweight).

Help your body do what it is intended to do by feeding it what it needs and not over working it. If you feel like you're stuffed eating only 1500 cals a day, I would suggest you make them very nutrient dense and cut back on the CF.

Some more great info can be read here and here that may interest you.

Oh and for what its worth, if there is one thing I wish I did when I was 22 it would be to spend less time obsessing over my body/eating habits/the gym and get out and be with the people who mean the most to me more. That's the stuff that holds you together when times get tough down the road!

Cheers and goodluck :).

618fc5298c4a96b817c4918c795a875f

(1217)

on April 26, 2013
at 05:37 PM

I second this advice, especially when it comes to spending time with the people who mean most to you!

4e244c1d8d337117caac07b6dc2f66f4

(15)

on April 26, 2013
at 08:20 PM

The "extra layer" could be skin or bloat (I have irritable bowel syndrome- sorry TMI). Thanks for the lengthy reply! I am very hard on myself and it could just be my imagination. The 1500 calories come from only fruit, veggies, healthy fats and lean meats.

4e244c1d8d337117caac07b6dc2f66f4

(15)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

I hear you about spending time with people. It actually doesn't take time away from that, surprisingly. I workout after work and take the weekends off for socializing.

1
Fd7b128cf714044a86d8bd822c7a8992

(4292)

on April 26, 2013
at 11:18 AM

I'm 23, female, 5'3-4", and 115-120lbs, and I think if I ate 1500 calories a day I'd evaporate. I can pack away 2,000-2200 without any problems and haven't gained weight despite actively trying to for the past year. My training schedule is pretty intense, around 7-8 hours/week with metcon-esque cardio, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and weight training.

Maybe your appetite just varies day by day. That happens to me a lot; some days I'm hungrier so I eat more and other days I'm not so I eat less. It seems very natural to me that my hunger should fluctuate day by day and not be exactly constant, even if I'm not always clear on the reasons why it's changing. I would say just stop trying to count calories or worry about some specific number of calories, and start listening to your body and eating the way your hunger drives you.

4e244c1d8d337117caac07b6dc2f66f4

(15)

on April 26, 2013
at 08:11 PM

It just seems I gain fat when I eat more than 2000 a day. Great advice!

1
10121ac7b6beb99c0fbfbf1522c50adb

on April 26, 2013
at 01:07 AM

Probably not the answer you're looking for, but as many as you need to feel energetic, satiated, and generally awesome. How do you feel/look on 1500-1800? Personally, I'd eat (a lot) more given the activity level, but if you have a lot of weight to lose and can still function on such a small number of calories, keep going.

4e244c1d8d337117caac07b6dc2f66f4

(15)

on April 26, 2013
at 01:25 AM

Thanks. I am not trying to lose weight, but am always looking to lean out. I am 120lb, 5'5" and pretty muscular, but feel I always have an extra layer of fat on my midsection even at my calorie intake now, but I can't imagine eating any less than 1500!!

4e244c1d8d337117caac07b6dc2f66f4

(15)

on April 26, 2013
at 08:32 PM

No, it was a good answer. I look good on 1800 calories and feel pretty energetic.

A0c6d1e41fc0441b593a05050aefada7

(342)

on April 26, 2013
at 01:07 PM

I'm 118 pounds and 5'6.

A0c6d1e41fc0441b593a05050aefada7

(342)

on April 26, 2013
at 01:07 PM

I'm two years older than you, don't exercise that much unless if you count walking, and consume about 3000 cals a day.

0
19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on May 20, 2013
at 08:58 PM

Hey, I'm adding another answer because I haven't been here in a while since I answered, and I just saw you replied to me (but if I reply to you under my post the website won't notify you.)

"It just seems I gain fat when I eat more than 2000 a day."

When you add calories how do you add them? If I add calories from carbs I gain weight to the point my pre-paleo jeans get even tighter than they were before paleo. Yet, after paleo those jeans were falling off my KNEES!

But if I add calories from fat (saturated fat, beef leaf tallow, pork leaf lard), I put 3 tablespoons of fat with each meal and I don't get fat, I keep losing fat and my jeans keep getting looser and looser.
And I'm also very satisfied throughout the day, whereas carbs give me more and more cravings and make me feel hungry through the day.

You say you feel very full from protein. I wonder if the problem is that you're eating meat high in protein. I feel much better eating meats higher in fat than protein, then adding even more fat when I cook it.

Despite having a lot of muscle all over my body (pre-exercise!), protein makes a very little part of my diet.

For me, personally, it's very important to eat very low carb, almost ketogenic. But most calories come from saturated fat (and cholesterol).

I can eat my normal high-fat low-carb food and then add a very low-carb dessert (like homemade ice cream with no sugar added), every day of the week, and I won't get fat even though I'm eating a lot more calories.

But if I instead replace some of my calories with carbs and don't eat that ice cream (ending up eating the same or less calories), I get fat again!

So not all calories are the same.

"My appetite isn't the problem! I can eat a whole cow!

Which parts of the cow are you eating? ;-)

"It just hurts my stomach when I do because I have irritable bowel syndrome (TMI-sorry)."

Never TMI on this website. A lot of us have been there. I used to have IBS so bad I "celebrated" holidays at home, alone, because I didn't want to have accidents around family. This went on for years and years.

If your IBS isn't healing then there's still something wrong in your diet (something you can't have) or something that's missing (something you should have).

For me, the less carbs the better, not only less carbs but I have to be careful what type of carbs. Fruits are a no-no for me, unless they're very low sugar. I treat fruit like I treat candy: the least, the better. The less sugar the fruits and vegetables have, the better.

"I can try adding more fat to get in more calories because I like keeping the low carb paleo going"

With IBS in my case 2 fruits per day would be way too much for me, unless it's a few raspberries or blackberries.

If you consume any natural sugars (honey, maple syrup, etc), consider giving it up for a month to see if it makes a difference (in my case it makes a HUGE difference).

Eating a lot of saturated fat and cholesterol is very important to me. I need to make sure I eat lots. Most days I get atleast 1000 mg of cholesterol.

Another thing that helped me is making chicken and beef bone stock part of my diet every day. I put it every where, when cooking vegetables, meat, soups, gravies...

Lacto fermented vegetables didn't help me. They actually make me feel worse. However I like those vegetables so I eat them once in a while, but I have to limit quantities.

You might be skeptical, and this is just my experience, but I hope this is helpful since it took me from really bad IBS to being back to normal (even better than "normal" people!)

In my case I can eat two very big meals, but for you it might be better to split those meals into 6-8 smaller meals and then try to condense them into bigger meals little by little (or not).

Big meals are very important to me, it really helps. Small meals make it worse.

Please note, again, this is just my experience.

0
2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on April 26, 2013
at 06:19 PM

OVER 9000 CALORIES

4e244c1d8d337117caac07b6dc2f66f4

(15)

on April 26, 2013
at 08:10 PM

What?! You're kidding...

0
2e777bbcd49262eb31a24f821abec6bc

(1974)

on April 26, 2013
at 04:43 PM

I am 5'8, 125 lbs and I eat around 2000 a day plus what I burn so probably around 2500 a day.

0
19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on April 26, 2013
at 04:56 AM

( Too long to read? Yes, it's too little calories for you, I personally would aim for 2500 calories )

I am a 22 year old female

What's your body type like? My sister and I are both 5'5", but she has very narrow shoulders and hips, chicken legs.
These are the kind of women everyone is jealous of, because they always look skinny even if they're fat.

Me, on the other hand... I'm skinny, but my wide shoulders and hips make me look wide as a brick, I have a huge butt full of muscle, I have tree-trunk legs full of muscle, and even my waist and shoulders are pretty muscular for a woman.
Note that I am have always been like this, even without exercising, even as a little girl.

With my body type, even when I'm very skinny, I still look very chunky and "unfeminine" by beauty standards.

So, my body type needs to eat a lot more calories than she does, because I'm a lot more meaty.

My skinny weight is 145 lbs, even though I'm 5'5". The skinny weight for my sister is about 110 lbs. That's because I pack a lot of muscle (WITHOUT exercising at all). If I exercised like you do, I would probably need atleast 2500 calories.

I ate about 1500 calories when I was sedentary (and jobless). Now that I'm working on my feet part time (only two days), and I'm a bit more active (walking), I need to eat atleast 1800 calories (but often more), to prevent disabling fatigue that takes a week to rebound from. If I were exercising like you, I would probably need atleast 2500 calories, or even 2800-3000 calories if I had a physical/active full time job. (Assuming I'm maintaining weight)

The only way I can look skinny like my sister... it's when I was very sick for years (multiple-sclerosis type symptoms), that caused me to lose all my muscle and also bone density.

A person like me needs to eat a lot more calories to keep her body healthy.
If you have a narrow and not so muscular body type, and sit on a chair at work, you probably could get away with less calories.

I am either too hungry or too full off of protein.

As someone who has very little appetite and hates feeling full, let me teach you my tricks :-) I have to force myself to eat to get as many calories as I need.

Have you tried cooking with more fat to up the calories? That way you won't feel like you're full of protein. Cook with 3 spoons of fat for your meat and then maybe a little more for your vegetables.

I eat about 75% of calories from animal fats, 10 to 15% from animal proteins, and the rest comes from vegetables and fruits.

By eating fattier cuts of meat, and adding animal fats to cook my meat and vegetables, I get plenty of calories without feeling like I'm stuffed from all the protein. I mostly use grass-fed beef tallow, and sometimes pig lard and coconut oil depending on the recipe.

Fat also has more calories than protein per gram (9 vs 4), so with such a high % of calories from fat, it's easier to reach the target I need.

You're way, waaaaaaaaaaaay more active than I am, so I bet you need a lot more calories than you eat now. You need a lot of energy to exercise that much. Specially if you're trying to maintain, not lose. But also notice that with crossfit, I imagine you're GAINING muscle, for which you need plenty of energy.

If you hate feeling stuffed, cooking with plenty of fat will give you lots of energy.

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on April 26, 2013
at 05:08 AM

Example (when I was sedentary): 9 oz skirt steak, 2 cups vegetables, cooked in 3 tbsp tallow. 9oz salmon, 2 cups vegetables, cooked in 3 tbsp coconut oil. Example (now that I'm more active): All that, plus snacks like fruit salad, avocados, etc, OR a 3rd meal.

4e244c1d8d337117caac07b6dc2f66f4

(15)

on April 26, 2013
at 08:26 PM

My appetite isn't the problem! I can eat a whole cow! It just hurts my stomach when I do because I have irritable bowel syndrome (TMI-sorry). I can try adding more fat to get in more calories because I like keeping the low carb paleo going (only 2 fruits a day and then low GI veggies with a sweet potato every once in a while). I am 5' 5" and have wide shoulders and hips and am not as muscular as you but pretty built because of my activity level. I'd say my weight is evenly dispersed, though. My job isn't sedentary thank gosh!

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on May 20, 2013
at 08:04 PM

It's never TMI here on PaleoHacks :) I had pretty bad IBS too, it was so bad I "celebrated" holidays alone at home because I was afraid of having accidents around family. We are all different but some other things that helped me:

0
089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on April 26, 2013
at 03:16 AM

i am 23 (5'4") and somewhat active- i do about 30 minutes of exercise 4-6 days a week. i eat around 2500-3000 calories a day. i've found that has helped me gain 13 lbs so far and weight gain, for me, is great.

since you are comfortable at your weight, then stick with what you are doing. personally, i wouldn't be able to do less than 2000 at your activity level. that is a lot of physical activity.

what's your macro intake like? are you doing a lot of carbs or low carbs?

4e244c1d8d337117caac07b6dc2f66f4

(15)

on April 26, 2013
at 08:16 PM

I'm low carb. Usually fruit at breakfast and after a workout, sweet potato a couple times a week, and then mostly low carb veggies like spinach, zucchini, broccoli, etc. I just feel like I gain fat when I eat that many calories a day.

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