Whether you're trying to lose weight, gain weight, or stick to your current weight, you might be tempted to look up the suggested calories per day for your gender, age, and activity level.
Daily Calorie Intake
Your daily calorie intake is the approximate number of calories you should try to eat each day. It varies widely from person to person. The chart below shows some ways to estimate yours. The chart should only be used as a reference point because every person is so different metabolically even when they are the same size and gender. The following suggested calorie ranges are generated using the Institute of Medicine’s estimated energy requirement calculation.
Calorie Intake Chart
a These levels are based on Estimated Energy Requirements (EER) from the Institute of Medicine Dietary Reference Intakes macronutrients report, 2002, calculated by gender, age, and activity level for reference-sized individuals. "Reference size," as determined by IOM, is based on median height and weight for ages up to age 18 years of age and median height and weight for that height to give a BMI of 21.5 for adult females and 22.5 for adult males.
b Sedentary means a lifestyle that includes only the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
c Moderately active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
d Active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
How Many Calories Should I Eat per Day?
To maintain weight, the chart shows you your daily calorie limit. It's based on your age, activity level, and the BMI (body mass index) of 21.6 for women and 22.1 for men. For adults, the reference man is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 154 pounds. The reference woman is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 126 pounds.
To lose weight: It used to be recommended that to lose a pound per week you would need to decrease total calories by 500 a day. Now researchers believe weight loss is a slower process and that consistency and setting realistic goals can lead to successful weight loss over time. The key is to be patient and work with a dietitian to help find the right plan for you.
To gain weight, it's best to work on a plan with a dietitian. Go ahead and add calories, though.
For successful weight loss that you can maintain over time, experts recommend choosing foods that are lower in calories but rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients.
A calorie calculator like this one allows you to enter the names of foods you eat and get calorie counts for them. Then, you can use the calculator to add those numbers to your daily totals and track how many calories you’re getting each day.