How Many Calories Do I Need? Print

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originally published inEvery Monday at 4:15pm on QR77 Radio join me and Angela Kokott, host of Calgary Today, with our segment, “You are what you eat” to get the goods on healthy eating. If you missed my segments I will be archiving these audio discussions on my blog here.

Listen to Episode 40 here: How Many Calories Do I Need?

One of the most common questions that we get asked in our counselling practice is “how many calories do I need 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.

how many calories should you eat?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 

MALES

 

FEMALES

Activity level

Low*

Mod. active*

Active*

Activity level

Low*

Mod. active*

Active*

AGE

AGE

2

1000

1000

1000

2

1000

1000

1000

3

1000

1400

1400

3

1000

1200

1400

4

1200

1400

1600

4

1200

1400

1400

5

1200

1400

1600

5

1200

1400

1600

6

1400

1600

1800

6

1200

1400

1600

7

1400

1600

1800

7

1200

1600

1800

8

1400

1600

2000

8

1400

1600

1800

9

1600

1800

2000

9

1400

1600

1800

10

1600

1800

2200

10

1400

1800

2000

11

1800

2000

2200

11

1600

1800

2000

12

1800

2200

2400

12

1600

2000

2200

13

2000

2200

2600

13

1600

2000

2200

14

2000

2400

2800

14

1800

2000

2400

15

2200

2600

3000

15

1800

2000

2400

16

2400

2800

3200

16

1800

2000

2400

17

2400

2800

3200

17

1800

2000

2400

18

2400

2800

3200

18

1800

2000

2400

19-20

2600

2800

3000

19-20

2000

2200

2400

21-25

2400

2800

3000

21-25

2000

2200

2400

26-30

2400

2600

3000

26-30

1800

2000

2400

31-35

2400

2600

3000

31-35

1800

2000

2200

36-40

2400

2600

2800

36-40

1800

2000

2200

41-45

2200

2600

2800

41-45

1800

2000

2200

46-50

2200

2400

2800

46-50

1800

2000

2200

51-55

2200

2400

2800

51-55

1600

1800

2200

56-60

2200

2400

2600

56-60

1600

1800

2200

61-65

2000

2400

2600

61-65

1600

1800

2000

66-70

2000

2200

2600

66-70

1600

1800

2000

71-75

2000

2200

2600

71-75

1600

1800

2000

76 and up

2000

2000

2400

76 and up

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.

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

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. Andrea and her team 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. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. 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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