How Many Calories Do We Need Daily?

Our daily calorie intake depends on many factors: weight, height, gender, age, and our overall level of mobility during the day.

Knowing one’s daily calorie needs may be a useful reference point for determining whether the calories that a person eats and drinks are appropriate.

Assess whether you are eating the right number of calories by monitoring body weight and adjusting calorie intake and participation in physical activity based on changes in weight over time.

A calorie reduction of 500 or more calories daily is a common initial goal for adult weight loss. However, maintaining a smaller deficit can have a meaningful influence on body weight over time. The effect of a calorie deficit on weight does not depend on how the reduction is produced. Yet, in research studies, a greater proportion of calorie reduction is often due to decreasing intake, with a relatively smaller fraction due to increased physical activity.


Estimated Amounts of Daily Calories

The estimated calorie amounts are based on Estimated Energy Requirements (EER) equations, using reference heights (average) and reference weights (healthy) for each age-gender group. These estimates are rounded to the nearest 200 calories. An individual’s calorie needs may be higher or lower than these average estimates.

Calorie Requirement Charts for Women

Age/ Physical Activity Levels

Female AgeSedentary ModeratelyActive
131,6002,0002,200
14-181,8002,0002,400
19-252,0002,2002,400
26-301,8002,0002,400
31-501,8002,0002,200
51-601,6001,8002,200
61+ 1,6001,8002,000

Calorie Requirement Charts for Men

Age/ Physical Activity Levels

Male AgeSedentary ModeratelyActive
132,0002,2002,600
142,0002,4002,800
152,2002,6003,000
16-182,4002,8003,200
19-202,6002,8003,000
21-252,4002,8003,000
26-35 2,4002,6003,000
36-40 2,4002,6002,800
41-452,2002,6002,800
46-552,2002,4002,800
56-602,2002,4002,600
61-652,0002,4002,600
66-752,0002,2002,600
76+2,0002,2002,400

Physical Activity Levels Definition

  1. Sedentary lifestyle includes a light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
  2. Moderately active lifestyle includes physical activity equal to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles daily at 3 to 4 miles per hour in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
  3. Active lifestyle includes physical activity equal to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.

Source: Britten P, Marcoe K, Yamini S, Davis C. Development of food intake patterns for the MyPyramid Food Guidance System. J Nutr Educ Behav 2006;38(6 Suppl):S78-S92.