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How many calories should I eat in a day?
How many calories should I eat in a day?
05 Jul 2024

How many calories should I eat in a day?

One of the greatest mysteries of people’s lifestyle is that how many calories should I eat a day. An effective knowledge of your daily calorie requirements is integral to the maintenance of your good health.

The energy produced from your calorie intake enables smooth functioning of your body organs and systems. Our daily activities largely depend on the energy produced in our body. This energy comes from the burning of our consumed calories. You can make healthier choices in your life by following a balanced diet with the right amount of calorie content.     

Daily Calorie Requirements

Knowing the daily requirement of calorie intake in your body is crucial for your good health.

Scientific researchers and healthcare professionals suggest that:

  • You need an average of 2,500 kcal in case you are a man
  • You need an average of 2,000 kcal in case you are a woman

However, the calorie you eat in a day may vary on the basis of different factors and other physical activities. You lifestyle design has a significant impact on your daily calorie needs:

  • Age

The daily calorie intake definitely varies from individual to individual according to their age group. For example, a child needs considerable amount of calories for its proper growth and development. On the other hand, teenagers and young adults require the maximum amount of calories. This is because they perform the maximum level of activity at this point of life. The old age again demands less calorie intake. This is because we undergo different changes in our metabolism functions during our old age. This does not consume much energy in our body.

  • Gender

The gender of individuals also plays a crucial role in determining their calorie requirements. For instance, male births correspond to more calorie requirement than female ones. This is probably because of their larger body size as compared to female newborns. In fact, the physiological system of males looks for more calories in their young age and adulthood. This is why they are physically more active.

  • Height

Your height is a major determinant of how much calorie you need. Excessive low calorie intake can foster a negative effect on your height. You will experience a stunt growth if you consume lower calories than you need. Moreover, over intake of calories can influence your hormone secretion necessary for an optimal height.

  • Body weight

If you consume greater calories than you burn per day, you may become overweight. This is because your body deposits this excess energy as fat for future use. You have to reduce your calorie consumption to enable the breakdown of your deposited fats. This will eventually lead to a successive weight loss. 

In contrast to this, you lose weight because of low calorie intake as compared to your calorie usage rate. In this case, you need to intake greater amounts of calories to balance your calorie burns.

  • Exercising habits

If you do regular exercise then you will require a comparatively higher calorie intake. This is necessary to match the level of your excess calorie usage that you have given up during exercise.

  • Food habits

Your food habit is a major determining factor of your body’s calorie need. In some areas, people mostly intake sea food that causes excess of salt in their diet. On the contrary, some people tend towards oily foods and processed items. These cause degradation of calorie intake in their diet.

  • Phases like pregnancy, breastfeeding or menopause also experience varying calorie requirements in women.

Besides, certain physiological factors are responsible for influencing your calorie requirements:

  • Your body mass index or BMI shares an essential role in deciding the calorie requirement of your body. It assesses if you have a healthy body weight according to your height.
  • You can go for healthier food swaps to meet your calorie requirements effectively. You should reduce excessive sugar, salt and fat consumption in your family meals. This can make your day healthier with adequate calorie intake.
  • A comprehensive understanding of the food labels will eventually help you make healthier food choices. You can refer to the colour coding system and content percentage on packaged food items to calculate your calorie intake.   

Enhance Your Calorie Awareness

Several tips provide you the idea of calorie awareness. These majorly include:

  • You need to check the nutrition and calorie labels on the food packaging. You can get this calorie content display under the ‘energy’ heading. This helps you choose the appropriate food item in the right amount to satisfy your calorie needs.
  • You can opt for healthier food choices. These should include green vegetables and fruits. You can consider cereals, legumes and other naturally occurring foods as well. This keeps you away from the unsaturated fats and synthetic chemicals of packaged foods. This offers you only necessary nutrition with necessary calories.   
  • You need to plan your regular meals according to your calorie needs. This can help you intake calories only according to your physiological needs.
  • You can also look for information on calorie contents in restaurants and for takeaway menus. This will definitely help you select food items with balanced calorie content.
  • You need to remember that you will require more calories if you spend more energy on performing your daily activities. You must be aware of consuming more calories at times when had extra activities to perform.       

Need of Calorie Intake According to Your Age and Gender

You calorie need depends on your age, gender and activity levels. You can refer to the following for getting an estimate of your calorie requirements.

Children:

  • Children within 2 to 3 years of age require around 1000 calories for sedentary activities.
  • Again, children within 2 to 3 years having moderately or heavy activities generally need about 1000 to 1400 calories.

Females between 4 to 8 years:

  • On the other hand, females within 4 to 8 years need 1200 to 1400 calories in case of sedentary activities.
  • This value rises to 1400 to 1600 calories for females of this age performing moderately active tasks.
  • Again, females undergoing through maximum active works require about 1400 to 1800 calories daily.

Females between 9 to 13 years:

  • Females within the age group of 9 to 13 years and performing sedentary works consume nearly 1400 to 1600 calories per day.
  • This value ranges between 1600 to 2000 calories in the case of females undergoing moderate level activities.
  • High levels of activity cause female bodies between 9 to 13 years to consume 1800 to 2200 calories approximately.

Females between 14 to 18 years:

  • Sedentary workers within 14 and 18 years reportedly need around 1800 calories.
  • This value increases to 2000 calories for moderately active females of this age group.
  • The value continues to rise up to 2400 calories for females of the same age but undertaking heavy activities.

Females between 19 to 30 years:

  • Females of 19 to 30 years performing sedentary activities should usually consume between 1800 to 2000 calories.
  • Same aged women with moderate activity levels eventually require around 2000 to 2200 calories in a day.
  • If you are between 19 and 30 years, then you should intake around 2400 calories per day.

Females between 31 to 50 years:

  • Women between 31 and 50 years require around 1800 calories for performing sedentary activities.
  • Women of this age again need about 2000 calories if they have moderate level activities.
  • These women will consume about 2200 calories in case they have high level of physical activities.

Females above 51 years:

  • These females above 51 years, however, require a decreased amount of around 1600 calories for performing sedentary tasks.
  • Moderately active women of the same age group will eventually consume 1800 calories.
  • Women more than 51 years age need about 2200 calories for extremely active tasks.

Males between 4 to 8 years:

  • Male children within 4 to 8 years require around 1200 to 1400 calories for sedentary actions.
  • Males belonging to this age group require 1400 to 1600 calories for performing moderately active tasks.
  • These same males will require about 1600 to 2000 calories for heavy activities.

Males between 9 to 13 years:

  • Sedentary males within 9 to 13 years consume nearly 1600 to 2000 calories per day.
  • This value further rise to 1800 to 2200 calories for males of same group but with moderately active tasks.
  • Males within this age group again tend to consume nearly 2000 to 2600 calories in a day.

Males between 14 to 18 years:

  • Male teenagers within 14 and 18 years need 2000 to 2400 calories for sedentary activities.
  • On the other hand, the same male teenagers need to intake nearly 2400 to 2800 calories in case of performing moderately active works.
  • Again, males of this age group consume around 2800 to 3200 calories for performing heavily active tasks.

Males between 19 to 30 years:

  • If you are between 19 to 30 years of age, you will usually require about 2400 to 2600 calories for sedentary works.
  • Males of this age and loaded with moderately active tasks need around 2600 to 2800 calories.
  • However, if you need to be heavily active, you should intake at least 3000 calories per day.

Males between 31 to 50 years:

  • If you are above 31 but below 50 years, 2200 to 2400 calories is the right intake for your sedentary activities.
  • Males of this age group, however, require 2400 to 2600 calories for moderate activities.
  • This value further increase to around 2800 to 3000 calories for males involved in active tasks.

Males above 51 years:

  • This age group requires sedentary males to intake at least between 2000 to 2200 calories in a day.
  • For moderate activities, these males should consume around 2200 to 2400 calories daily.
  • Again, heavy activities demand males above 51 years to intake 2400 to 2800 calories approximately.

However, individual calorie needs differ from person to person due to differences in rates of metabolism.

How much calorie should you intake during pregnancy?

A woman needs nearly 300 excess calories per day during her pregnancy. However, these extra calories should come from healthy sources. You should avoid junk foods and excessive sweet intake during pregnancy. You must eat lots of fresh fruits and green vegetables. This will provide the necessary vitamins and minerals to your growing baby. You can also intake protein-rich foods with unsaturated fats. Folic acid, calcium and iron are other important nutrients for your baby.

The calorie requirement for a pregnant woman must range around:

  • 1800 calories a day for the first trimester
  • 2200 calories a day for the second trimester
  • 2400 calories a day for the third trimester

Consumption of bread, rice, cereals, fresh fruits, green vegetables, milk, cheese, yoghurt is good for a pregnancy diet with adequate calorie content. Besides, meat, eggs, fish, pulses, poultry, nuts and beans provide good amounts of protein to pregnant females.

Role of Calorie Intake in Body Weight Maintenance

In case you want to maintain the current body weight, you have to balance your amount of calorie intake to amount of your calorie usage in a day. You should ensure a regular calorie intake between 2000 to 2500 calories for maintaining an optimal weight.  

Calculations for Calorie Burn

You need to calculate your BMR to assess the calorie usage in your body.

  • For women, you can measure BMR by

655.1 + (9.563 x weight in kg) + (1.850 x height in cm) - (4.676 x age in years)

  • For men, you can measure BMR by

66.47 + (13.75 x weight in kg) + (5.003 x height in cm) - (6.755 x age in years)

This indicates the rate of calorie burn in your body.

Calculations for Calorie Intake

On the other hand, AMR helps you know your calorie requirement.

  • For sedentary workers

AMR = BMR x 1.2

  • For moderately active workers

AMR = BMR x 1.55

  • For heavily active workers

AMR = BMR x 1.9

This suggests the calorie you need to intake per day.

Top 10 Foods with High Calorie Content

The following food items produce the maximum calories in human body.

Name of Food Item

Calorie Content per 100 grams

1.    Homemade granola

489 calories

2.    Meat (Chicken leg)

184 calories

3.    Firm tofu

144 calories

4.    Fish (Salmon)

206 calories

5.    Avocados

160 calories

6.    Dairy foods

61 calories

7.    Chickpeas

164 calories

8.    Sweet potatoes

101 calories

9.    Whole grains (Brown rice)

123 calories

10. Nuts

718 calories

 

Tips for Right Calorie Consumption

The lifestyle designs and food habits are largely responsible for impacting the calorie requirements of the people there. You can ensure how many calories you should eat a day by the following tips:

  1. Intake fibre-rich meals and starchy carbohydrates:

About one-third of your total meal must comprise of starchy carbohydrates. You can intake adequate amounts of rice, cereals, bread and potatoes. You can also consume wholegrain for getting high fibre content. Brown rice and whole-wheat pasta are good for a fibre-rich diet. These food items provide you the right amount of calories with the adequate feeling of stomach fullness after a meal.   

  1. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits:

Most of the healthcare professionals recommend eating a minimum of 5 portions various fruits and vegetables per day. You can eat them in fresh, canned, dried, juiced or frozen states as well. The consumption of adequate fruits and vegetables provides vitamins and minerals to your body.

  1. Eat more fish and oily fish:

Fish offers abundant protein, vitamins and minerals in our body. For a healthy and balanced diet, you should intake at least 2 potions of fish every 7 days. You should also include oily fish in your diet. Oily fish are rich deposits of omega-3 fats. These are highly useful preventing heart problems.

Salmon, herring, trout, pilchards, sardines and mackerel are some beneficial oily fish that foster positive effects on your health. On the other hand, some common non-oily fish include cod, coley, plaice, hake, skate, tuna and haddock.  

  1. Reduction of sugar and saturated fat:

Excessive consumption of sugary foods and drinks may be responsible for generating tooth decays and making your body obese. You should avoid free sugars found in synthetic fruit juices, honey and syrups. You need to avoid sugary breakfast cereals, cakes, sugary fizzy drinks, pastries and puddings, biscuits, alcoholic drinks, sweets and chocolate to get rid of free sugar.

You should follow a low sugar calorie intake. If 100 grams of food contains more than 22.5 grams sugar, then the food has high sugar content. On the contrary, this value of sugar should be equal to or less than 5 grams in every 100 grams of food. This will help you in achieving a low sugar diet.

A little amount of fat forms an essential component of your regular diet. Fat can mainly be of two types namely, saturated and unsaturated. Consumption of excessive saturated fats eventually increases your cholesterol level in blood. This may lead to serious heart diseases.

Dieticians and healthcare specialists suggest males to not consume more than 30 grams saturated fat in a day. On the other hand, females should only intake up to 20 grams saturated fat per day. Children below 11 years, however, should intake less saturated fat than adults.

You should avoid food sources of saturated fats. Some common foods include sausages, hard cheese, cakes, lard, pies, biscuits, cream, butter and some fatty cuts of meat. You should instead go for unsaturated fats like oily fish, avocados or vegetable oils.

  1. Reduce salt consumption:

Excessive salt intake can be responsible for a high blood pressure. This can eventually lead to risks of heart conditions and strokes. Salt is already present in considerable amounts in packaged foods. Soups, breads, sauces and breakfast cereals contain salt. Such foods contain more than 1.5 grams salt in every 100 grams of food. Doctors recommend to intake less than 6g salt in a day for a healthy diet.  

  1. Drink Plenty of Fluids:

You should avoid dehydration at all cost. For this, you need to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water per day. Try to avoid sugary drinks, fizzy and soft drinks carbonated cold drinks and sweetened fruit juices. Water, tea, coffee, low fat and low sugar drinks are good for your calorie content.

  1. Never skip breakfast:  

Most of the people skip breakfast with the purpose of losing body weight. But this is a vague technique. In fact, breakfast includes fibre-rich foods and wholegrain. This improves the metabolic activity of the body.   

Disadvantages of an Imbalanced Calorie Intake  

  • An excessive level of calorie intake and without adequate physical activity leads to obesity and overweight issues in our body. You can also experience hormonal changes in your body from hyper-intake of calories. These may generate conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
  • An extremely low level of calorie intake primarily report minor side effects. It may cause fatigue, nausea and constipation. Hormonal functions also experience hypo-secretion due to less calorie consumption.

Conclusion

You need to choose variety of food items for your regular diet. This will ensure the consumption of all different nutrients by your body. You need to maintain a balanced calorie consumption to lead a health and comfortable life. You have different requirements of calorie intake by your body at different stages of life. This varies according to your age, gender, exercise and food habits, and physical activities and even during pregnancy.