How many calories do I need per day?
One of the most common questions that we get asked in our counselling practice is how many calories to eat per day. If you have read a diet magazine that suggests an adult needs only 1200 calories per day this is likely far too low to be sustainable, enjoyable and helpful to manage a healthy metabolism (after all a 2 year old needs 1000 calories a day and they are much smaller than an adult!).
Consuming too few calories compared to what your body requires is a form of stress for the body and will inevitably not help you manage a healthy weight and enjoy flexible eating habits over time. Your metabolism is like a furnace, if food is in short supply it slows the furnace or metabolism down. On the other hand eating too many calories for what your body requires is one of the leading causes of obesity in North America. I often find many of our clients struggling to lose excess weight underestimate how much they are eating and overestimate how many calories are burned during physical activity. If you are trying to lose weight, hitting the gym and burning off 300 calories during your workout would not warrant an extra large supper and justify two helpings of dessert.
The total amount of calories you require per day will vary based on gender, age, activity level and genetics. The chart below gives you an estimate of how many calories you likely need per day. For people that are extremely active they will even require even more than what is listed on the chart below.
Activity levels on the chart below can be defined by the following:
- LOW = less than 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity in addition to daily activities.
- MOD. ACTIVE = 30-60 minutes a day of moderate physical activity in addition to daily activities.
- ACTIVE = 60 or more minutes a day of moderate physical activity in addition to daily activities.
DAILY GOALS FOR TOTAL CALORIES
|Activity level||*Low||*Mod. active||*Active||Activity level||*Low||*Mod. active||*Active|
|76 +||2000||2000||2400||76 +||1600||1800||2000|
*Calorie levels are based on the Estimated Energy Requirements (EER) and activity levels from the Institute of Medicine Dietary Reference Intakes Macro nutrients Report, 2002.
Choose not to starve or stuff yourself – getting a healthy amount of calories per day will help you have the healthful and soulful eating habits you deserve and help you manage a healthy body weight.
Thanks for reading!
“The Chocoholic Dietitian”
About Andrea Holwegner
CEO, Registered Dietitian, Counseling Practice Director & Professional Speaker
Andrea the «Chocoholic Nutritionist» is founder and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000. She is an online nutrition course creator, professional speaker and regular guest in the media. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education....Read more
Great little reminder and reference for my calorie intake. I was just wondering how many calories a day is proper for myself.
I agree losing weight is not impossible but it is indeed challenging especially if you are new to exercise and haven’t learned healthy eating habits when you were a child. Weight loss is the top reason people come and see us in our practice. In response to your comment I think you can lose weight and still occasionally eat fast food. I really support the concept that all foods can fit and that the healthiest and happiest people I know have not given up anything but instead challenge themselves to eat better but never trying tobe perfect.