You Wonder How Many Calories You Should Eat In A Day?
The correct answer depends on your body composition, gender, age, weight and activity level. A lean 20 year old, six foot tall male who plays basketball three times a week needs considerably more calories than a chubby 30 year old male who sits all day at a desk and plays video games in his spare time. In very general terms:
- Males require more calories than females.
- Lean people require more calories than those with more fat since muscle burns more calories than fat.
- Active people burn more (and require more) calories than sedentary people.
- Younger people need more calories than older people as our metabolisms slow as we age.
What Are Calories?
Calories are a measurement of energy. The number of calories in a food or drink determines the amount of energy stored in that food item. So a calorie is an expression of the nutritional value of protein, carbohydrates and fats in a given food expressed in calories per gram, 1 gram of carbohydrates provide 4 calories, 1 gram of proteins provide 4 calories and 1 gram of fats provide 9 calories.
What Is Metabolism?
Your body constantly burns calories to fuel normal functions like breathing, digestion and pumping blood. This is known as your resting or basal metabolic rate (BMR). As an estimate, the average female burns 1200 calories at rest while the average male burns approximately 1800 calories at rest.
As you move (walk, run, exercise, etc.) you burn more calories to fuel more muscle and joint movement and support your faster breathing and heart pumping. In very general terms, the average daily required calorie intake to support your BMR and physical activity is 2000 calories a day for women and 2500 for men.
How Many Calories Should You Eat In A Day?
As mentioned, your age, gender, body composition (height vs. weight) and activity level are the determining factors for calculating how many calories you should eat every day. The more active you are, the more calories you need to eat every day to maintain your weight. Here are examples of a variety of these factors:
- Active women ages 19 to 30: 2400 calories
- Moderately active women ages 19 to 30: 2200 calories
- Sedentary women ages 19 to 30: 2000 calories
- Active women ages 31 to 50: 2200 calories
- Moderately active women ages 31 to 50: 2000 calories
- Sedentary women ages 31 to 50: 1800 calories
- Active men ages 19 to 30: 3000 calories
- Moderately active men ages 19 to 30: 2600 to 2800 calories
- Sedentary men ages 19 to 30: 2,400 calories
- Active men ages 31 to 50: 3,000 calories
- Moderately active men ages 31 to 50: 2400 to 2600 calories
- Sedentary men ages 31 to 50: 2000 calories
Note: If you are over age 50, the average number of calories you need decreases by 200 calories for every activity level. These estimates are for the number of calories you need daily to MAINTAIN your current body weight. Once you calculate this number, if you are trying to LOSE weight, eat 300-500 fewer calories each day (or burn an additional 300-500 calories each day).