The number of calories a person has to eat to maintain their current weight can vary dramatically from person to person. For instance, obese people who slim down to the normal weight for their age, height, and gender will burn less calories at rest and feel hungrier throughout the day than a person of equal weight who was never obese.
This means two people can be the same size and weight, but one of those people has to eat half the number of daily calories to maintain that weight.
Furthermore, hunger is not always a completely honest bodily signal. We like to think of hunger as an indication from our body that we “need” food immediately to fuel our internal functions and supply energy. But in reality, hunger is mostly based on your body’s internal memory.
You will automatically get hungry at the times of day your body is accustomed to receiving food. Since most people eat their meals around the same time of day, the body remembers this and sends hunger signals to the brain at approximately the same times each day. These hunger signals don’t mean the body actually needs food though.
Proof of this can be seen in how most people are not hungry when they first awaken in the morning. Yet, this is usually the longest stretch of time the body goes without food for most people.
In fact, when hunger is ignored, it often goes away. If you start to feel hungry around lunch or dinner time and you choose not to eat, the hunger will eventually fade and disappear. Ironically, eating nothing at all actually raises your metabolism in the short term. This is one reason intermittent fasting has gained so much popularity.
In addition, ketogenic diets have been shown to boost metabolism, suppress hunger and support weight loss without restricting calories.
Now the question becomes: How much do calories actually matter? There are so many factors that determine your weight such as age, gender, genetics, hormones, diet, exercise, and overall health.
The answer to this question is: it depends on the person. Obviously, calorie intake is a factor in your weight, but not the entire story. Each person’s individual situation is different. Therefore, there is no “one size fits all” rule for the right number of calories to eat each day.