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How Many Calories Should You Eat a Day To Achieve Your Weight Goal?

5 mins read
Taisiia Dobrozorova
Written by Taisiia Dobrozorova on April 21, 2022
Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN
Medically reviewed by Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN
Unimeal provides articles with trustworthy and experts-proved information. Our health content is reviewed by professional nutritionists and trainers to extract for users the most verified and medically checked data.

After reading the article, you will know what calorie calculators are and how to calculate your calorie intake by yourself per day or meal. You will also finally understand how different factors (age, size, activity) affect calorie intake. Your goal is already close!

Table of content

Would you like to get rid of excess calories or gain weight? Would you want to know how many calories you need to consume per day? And how does it depend on age and activity? Let's find it out!

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First of all, it all starts with calories!

Kilocalories are a unit of measure for the nutritional value of foods. This indicator shows the daily rate of energy consumed. 

The calorie intake depends on the age, weight, and gender of the person, as well as the level of physical activity and diet. Any diet begins with determining the required number of calories. 

For this reason, the calculation of the daily calorie intake is an important step from which to start your journey to the figure of your dreams. To lose weight, you need to spend more energy than you consume with food.

Calorie requirements

To develop a quality calorie intake, pay attention to your age and lifestyle. They will determine how many calories you need per day. Later, you can adjust these numbers depending on your weight goal.

Calorie requirements
Calorie requirements

Daily calorie intake for men

With sedentary lifestyle:

19-30 years old - 2300-2500 kcal

31-50 years old - 2100-2300 kcal

50 years and older - less than 2000 kcal.

With a moderately active lifestyle, these figures are approximately equal to 2700, 2500 and 2300 kcal. For athletes and active people - 3000, 2900, and 2600 kcal.

Daily calorie intake for women

With sedentary lifestyle:

19-25 years old - 1900-2100 kcal

26-50 years old - 1700-1900 kcal

over the age of 50 - 1500-1700 kcal.

For girls who lead a moderately active lifestyle and who have not yet turned 25, energy consumption is on average 2100-2300 kcal. At the age of 26 to 50 years - 2000-2100 kcal and over the age of 50 about 1700-1900 kcal. For active women and athletes, these figures are 2300-2500, 2100-2300, and 1900-2000 kcal.

Top 5 tips for daily calories consumption

Daily calorie consumption
Daily calorie consumption
  • The average daily calorie intake is: for men 2500-2700 kcal per day, for women - 2000-2200 kcal per day.
  • To burn 2 pounds (or 1 kg) of fat, you need to spend 7700 kcal. Nutritionists advise losing weight by 2-4 kg per month (precisely due to fat). An effective diet usually requires a 20% calorie deficit.
  • Proteins should make up 30% of the daily diet, fats - 20%, and carbs - 50%. It is also useful to introduce low-carb days, when the amount of carbs does not exceed 15-20% of the total diet.
  • Calorie calculation requires habit and knowing the energy value of different foods. Also, it’s vital to remember about the quality of the products. Because 500 kcal of fresh vegetables are healthier than 500 kcal of sweets and fast food.
  • Buy a kitchen scale. Without a kitchen scale, your calorie counts will be inaccurate, which means it will be more difficult to achieve the desired result. But weigh products only when they are not cooked!

What is a calorie calculator and how to use it?

The calorie calculator determines how many calories a person should consume per day based on their metabolic rate. Not all such calculators are equally good.

Calorie calculations
Calorie calculations

We offer you an option that you can use yourself. To calculate your daily calorie intake, you need to take a few steps. So, here is the calorie counting algorithm:

STEP 1: calculate your basal metabolic rate

Each of us, depending on weight, activity, and age, requires a different amount of food. To find out the exact figure, you need to use the Harris-Benedict formula:

Women: BMR = 9.99 * weight (in kg) + 6.25 * height (in cm) - 4.92 * age (number of years) - 161

Men: BMR = 9.99 * weight (in kg) + 6.25 * height (in cm) - 4.92 * age (number of years) + 5

(where BMR is the basal metabolic rate).

STEP 2: determine daily activity

Here you need to determine the coefficient of your physical activity:

1.2 - minimal activity (lack of physical activity, sedentary work, minimum movement)

1.375 - little activity (light exercise or walking, little daily activity during the day)

1.46 - average activity (training 4-5 times a week, good activity during the day)

1.55 - above average activity (intense training 5-6 times a week, good activity during the day)

1.64 - increased activity (daily training, high daily activity)

1.72 - high activity (daily ultra-intense training and high daily activity)

1.9 - very high activity (usually we are talking about athletes during the period of competitive activity)

STEP 3: calculate the end result

So, multiplying the BMR figure by the physical activity coefficient, we got your calorie intake. Eating within the limits of this norm, you will neither lose weight nor gain weight. This is the so-called norm of calories for weight maintenance.

BMR * Activity Ratio = Calorie requirement for weight maintenance.

FAQ

How many calories should I eat per meal to lose weight?

Considering that you need to create a calorie deficit for weight loss, the approximate calculation per meal to lose weight will be 200-400 kcal.

Indicative list:

MealTimeCaloric value
Breakfast7-9 a.m.400
1st snack10-11 a.m.300
Dinner13-14 a.m.300
2nd snack16-17 a.m.300
Supper19-20 a.m.200

How many calories should I eat a day if I want to lose weight?

If you set a goal to lose weight, you will have to reduce the daily intake by 20% - this is the most physiological approach. Then, with a physiological norm of 1800 kcal, you will need to eat only 1440 kcal per day to reduce weight.

Drastic dietary cuts of more than 20% pose health risks. But if you are obese and tend to overeat, your doctor may recommend a 40% reduction in your diet. However, cut it not from the physiological norm, but from the number of calories that you are used to eating every day.

What's a 1500 calorie diet?

A 1500 calorie diet is a bland diet. A simple diet for a given number of calories allows you to painlessly remove extra pounds. A person will not have to starve, but there will not be an overabundance either.

How many calories should i eat a day to gain weight

For muscle growth, you need to get 10-15% more calories than with your standard diet. Men are recommended to focus on + 200-300 kcal, and women - on + 150-250 kcal per day.

The bottom line

It’s better to keep track of how many calories you need to eat in order to lose weight, and not to rush anywhere. Use calorie calculators and follow the rules of a balanced diet.

Healthy nutrition experts advise against trying to lose weight drastically by extreme cutting calories. Natural weight changes should be about 2-4 pounds (1-1.5 kg) per week. This is the most comfortable rate of weight loss to slim down effectively!

How do you feel about my article?

Unimeal does not diagnose or suggest treatments. Any description of the diet, training plan or supplement should be discussed with your current physician or nutritionist. This article does not address specific conditions and is simply meant to provide general information on healthcare topics. Following any advice is at your own initiative and does not impose any responsibility on the blog authors for your health and safety.

Sources:

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