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Calorie Confused? Print

How many calories do I need per day?

calorie confused - how many 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

MALESFEMALES
Activity level *Low*Mod. active*ActiveActivity level *Low*Mod. active *Active
Age   Age   
21000100010002100010001000
31000140014003100012001400
41200140016004120014001400
51200140016005120014001600
61400160018006120014001600
71400160018007120016001800
81400160020008140016001800
91600180020009140016001800
1016001800220010140018002000
1118002000220011160018002000
1218002200240012160020002200
1320002200260013160020002200
1420002400280014180020002400
1522002600300015180020002400
1624002800320016180020002400
1724002800320017180020002400
1824002800320018180020002400
19-2026002800300019-20200022002400
21-2524002800300021-25200022002400
26-3024002600300026-30180020002400
31-3524002600300031-35180020002200
36-4024002600280036-40180020002200
41-4522002600280041-45180020002200
46-5022002400280046-50180020002200
51-5522002400280051-55160018002200
56-6022002400260056-60160018002200
61-6520002400260061-65160018002000
66-7020002200260066-70160018002000
71-7520002200260071-75160018002000
76 + 20002000240076 + 160018002000

*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!

Andrea Holwegner

“The Chocoholic Dietitian”

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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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