How Many Calories Should The Average Person Eat A Day? If you are looking to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle, you must know how many calories the average person should eat per day. This will help you determine how many calories to eat and what foods to include in your diet. This article will look at the calorie requirements of the average person. The age, weight and activity level will all be looked at and an estimation made on how many calories the individual should consume per day.
The Average Calorie Intake by a Human Per Day Versus the Recommendation
The average American eats far too many calories, a habit that raises the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and other preventable health problems. Knowing how many calories you currently eat, compared to the intake recommendation, is the first step to managing your diet and reducing your risk for chronic diseases. Keep in mind that the types of calories you choose are just as important as the total number you take in.
Average Calorie Intake
The United States topped the list as the biggest eaters, according to calorie intake data released by The Food and Agriculture Organization. Americans eat an average of over 3,600 calories a day, according to the report. This is well above the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations.
The number of calories you need each day depends on various factors, like your weight and physical activity level. You need more calories when you’re pregnant, highly active or looking to gain weight and fewer calories if you’re sedentary or trying to lose weight.
The long-time recommendation is for you to aim for 2,000 to 2,600 calories per day if you’re a sedentary adult male and 1,600 to 2,000 if you’re a sedentary adult female. These values go as high as 3,000 for men and 2,400 for women, if you’re a very active adult.
Calories From the Wrong Foods
Along with eating too many calories, Americans are getting them from the wrong sorts of foods. The average American is loading up on sweets and fatty convenience foods rather than getting most calories from whole foods. When it comes to sugar, sweet drinks like soda and snacks like cakes and pies are the biggest offenders in the typical American diet. Where fat is concerned, Americans are getting too much of it from low-quality and processed animal foods like hot dogs, sausages and fatty cuts of pork and chicken.
Cutting Calories by Eating Healthy
Paying attention to what you’re eating and taking steps to choose more nutritious whole foods is an effective way to slash your calorie intake. Start with the major calorie contributors — sweet drinks, snacks and processed animal foods.
Drink water and plain tea instead of soda. Snack on fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. Get your protein from leaner cuts of unprocessed meat and poultry, along with fish, dairy, eggs and beans.
Make more of your meals and snacks at home so you can control the ingredients, but keep it simple. Changes in eating habits are more likely to stick when they’re simple, convenient and practical. Making quick meals like steamed vegetables with lean protein and simple snacks like cottage cheese with chopped fresh fruit goes a long way toward getting your calorie intake within the recommended range.
Minding Your Portions
Cutting back on high-sugar and high-fat foods is the first step, and familiarizing yourself with common portion sizes is another piece of the puzzle. Many Americans are eating portions that are much larger than recommended.
Packaged foods typically contain more than one serving size. Check the label so that you know how much is one serving. For other foods, use a few rules of thumb to keep your portions in check. A serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards, a fist represents a serving of fruit or vegetables and a serving of starchy foods — like potato, rice or corn — is the size of a computer mouse.
Estimated Calorie Requirements
Estimated amounts of calories needed to maintain energy balance for various gender and age groups at three different levels of physical activity. The estimates are rounded to the nearest 200 calories and were determined using the Institute of Medicine equation.
|Gender||Age (years)||Sedentaryb||Moderately Activec||Actived|
a These levels are based on Estimated Energy Requirements (EER) from the Institute of Medicine Dietary Reference Intakes macronutrients report, 2002, calculated by gender, age, and activity level for reference-sized individuals. “Reference size,” as determined by IOM, is based on median height and weight for ages up to age 18 years of age and median height and weight for that height to give a BMI of 21.5 for adult females and 22.5 for adult males.
b Sedentary means a lifestyle that includes only the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
c Moderately active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5 to 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
d Active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent 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.
The USDA recommends average daily calorie intakes for men and women that vary based on a number of factors including age, weight, height and level of physical activity.1
|USDA Recommended Daily Calorie Intake for Men|
|Age||Recommended Daily Calorie Intake|
|19–30 years||2,400–3,000 calories|
|31–40 years||2,400–3,800 calories|
|41–50 years||2,200–2,800 calories|
|51–60 years||2,200–2,800 calories|
|61–70 years||2,000–2,600 calories|
|71+ years||2,000–2,600 calories|
The reference man used for these calculations is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 154 pounds.
|USDA Recommended Daily Calorie Intake for Women|
|Age||Recommended Daily Calorie Intake|
|19–30 years||1,800–2,400 calories|
|31–40 years||1,800–2,200 calories|
|41–50 years||1,800–2,200 calories|
|51–60 years||1,600–2,200 calories|
|61–70 years||1,600–2,000 calories|
|71+ years||1,600–2,000 calories|
Record Daily Calories
Record your calories for one week online or on paper. There is no “best” method, but many people find smartphone apps easier because the calories and other nutrients are generated automatically after selecting your foods.
A handwritten food diary works just as well, as long as you’re consistent. Measuring and record everything that you eat and drink during this testing period will give you the most accurate data to work with. The USDA National Nutrient Database provides nutritional information for all foods and beverages for those tracking on paper. Follow these guidelines to keep an accurate food diary:
- Be honest about what you eat. There’s no benefit in underestimating (or overestimating) your calorie intake. Changing your diet during the recording phase is also counterproductive. Without an accurate recording of everything you typically eat, you’ll have trouble calculating your energy balance for weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance.
- Measure portion sizes. Understand the difference between portion size and serving size. If possible, use a digital scale to get precise measurements of the portions that you consume. It can be tedious, but this process gets easier the more you practice doing it.
- Be thorough. Don’t just write down the calorie count. Pay attention to your macronutrients as well. Writing down the amount of fat, carbohydrate, and protein for each food can help you identify gaps or dietary imbalances. For some, reducing calorie intake happens naturally after modifying their macronutrient intake. Changes like eating more protein and fewer carbohydrates can result in weight loss simply by promoting satiety.
- Record snacks and drinks. Don’t forget to write down snack foods and beverages. Consuming excess calories from snacks is easy to do without even realizing it. It’s important to keep in mind that drink calories add up, too. Simply changing what you drink could be the key to lasting weight loss in certain cases.
Calculate Average Calorie Intake
At the end of the week, add up your daily calorie intake. Add all seven days together and divide the number by seven to give you an average daily calorie count. Here’s an example:
|Example Daily Calorie Log|
Using this example, the total calories consumed during the week was 14,700. When divided by seven days, that’s an average of 2,100 calories per day.
You can also do this for each macronutrient to find out how many grams of fat, carbohydrate, and protein you typically consume each day. Depending on your activity level, making adjustments to macronutrient balance can better support your goals.
How to calculate calorie intake based on your goals
Calories refer to the amount of energy consumed through food and beverage consumption. Calorie sources include fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Any calories your body does not use are stored as fat and can be converted into energy.
Understanding your recommended calorie intake can help you figure out how many calories you should be consuming:
- Maintaining weight: To stay at your current weight, you must consume the same number of calories as you burn.
- Losing weight: To lose weight, you must consume fewer calories or burn more calories. If you want to consume less throughout the day, you should eat at least 500 fewer calories a day, or 15%-20% less than your required intake. If you want to burn more calories while eating fewer calories, you should increase your physical activity.
- Gaining weight: To gain weight, you must consume more calories than you burn. This should be accomplished by following a healthy but calorie-dense diet and exercising regularly.
How Many Calories Do You Need In A Day To Stay Healthy?
Calorie-counting is considered to be one of the most effective ways for shedding extra kilos. On an average, a woman requires around 2000 calories in a day to maintain certain weight and 1500 calories per day to lose around half a kilo a week. Males on the other hand need around 2500 calories in a day to maintain weight and 2000 calories in a day to lose around half a kg in a week. A simple way to do this is by eating healthy and nutritious food and regular exercise including both cardio and strength training.
How many calories do you need in a day for good health?
Celebrity nutritionist Nmami Agarwal says that daily recommended intake of calories is going to be different from person to person. The number of calories a person should consume in a day will depend on the level of physical activity. It is different for males, females and kids. “Someone with a lifestyle which includes more physical activity than usual will require more calories in a day to stay fit and healthy. Going on a calorie-deficit diet for weight loss is not recommended as it cannot be sustained in the long run,” she says while adding that it is not recommended that a person compromises on health in the name of weight loss.
When going ahead with your daily intake of calories, your level of energy and your overall health needs to be given consideration. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, your daily calorie intake should never go below 1200. If it goes below this count, you will begin losing muscle mass and will starve of energy or fuel for doing your daily activities.
Your daily recommended calorie intake is dependent on the level of physical activity
Photo Credit: iStock
Healthline reports that United States Department of Agriculture guidelines say children between ages 2 to 8 years need around 1,000 to 1,400 calories. Girls between 9 to 13 years of age need around 1,400 to 1,600 calories, boys of this age need 1,600 to 2,000 calories.
A woman aged between 14 to 30 with an active lifestyle would need at least 2,400 calories, a sedentary woman belonging to the same age group needs nothing more than 1,800 to 2,000 calories.
Active men aged between 14 to 30 need 2,800 to 3,200 calories while sedentary men of the same age group need 2,000 to 2,600 calories. Active men and women above 30 years need 2,000 to 3,000 calories while sedentary men and women above 30 years of age need 1,600 to 2,400 calories.