How Many Grams Of Food Should I Eat Per Day?—Food is essential for our survival. There are certain foods we all must eat in order to maintain our health. For example, how many grams of food should we consume every day? While it’s a matter of personal preference, different quantities work better for different people. It can start to get confusing, but with this guide we’ll walk you through the basics and help you find the right quantity for your body.
How much food should I eat each day?
How much food you need depends on many factors, including your height, age, sex, general state of health, job, leisure time activities, physical activities, genetics, body size, environmental factors, body composition and what medications you may be taking.
Optimum food intake depends on how many calories you need.
It is not always as simple as calories in versus calories out when it comes to weight, but if you consume more each day than you use up, you will usually put on weight. If you consume fewer calories than you need for energy, you will likely lose weight.
This article explains how much individuals should eat and what types of foods should be included in a healthy diet.
Fast facts on how much food to eat
Here are some key points about how much food to eat. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.
- If you consume more calories than you burn off, you are likely to put on weight
- To lose weight, reducing calorie intake and increasing the number of calories you burn is essential
- It is important to eat a variety of natural foods to stay healthy
Daily calorie requirements
How much you should eat depends on what your aims are. Do you want to maintain your body weight, lose or gain weight, or prepare for a sports event?
Any focus on food intake is closely linked with calorie consumption.
Calories are a measure of how much energy there is in the food we eat. Understanding calories helps us work out how much food we need to eat.
Different foods have a different number of calories per gram or ounce of weight.
Below are some general daily calorie requirements for males and females. A low active level means taking part in 30-60 minutes of moderate activity each day, such as walking at 3-4 miles per hour. Active level means at least 60 minutes of moderate activity each day.
Daily calorie requirement for males:
|Age||Sedentary level||Low active level||Active level|
Daily calorie requirement for females:
|Age||Sedentary level||Low active level||Active level|
People aiming for a healthy body weight will need to check the calorie content of the food they eat so that they can compare how much they are burning against their consumption.
How Much Is Too Much? Recommended Daily Food Intake
We have surely all heard about the recommended daily macro-nutrient breakdown–that is, how much of our daily diet should consist of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Still, let’s do a quick recap refresher for those of us that haven’t heard about it lately. The USDA Food Guide (which is based on a standard 2000-calorie per day meal plan) suggests that our daily diet consists of 30% protein, 15% fat, and 55% carbohydrates. That’s all well and good, but what happens when we actually have to put those guidelines to use? We sure don’t know what 50 grams of protein looks like off the top of our head, and we’re guessing you don’t either. Don’t worry, help is on the way.
The simplest way to get a grip on your own, personalized macro-nutrient & daily food intake is to use an online calculator, like this one. After putting in your daily energy consumption (how many calories you aim to eat in a day), you are given the exact amount (in grams) of proteins, fats, and carbs that you should take in to achieve a healthy and balanced diet.
We did a test trial and entered 1,750 calories per day. The calc’s suggestion? Eat 65 grams of protein, 58 grams of fat, and 265 grams of carbs every day. So…what does that mean?
Let’s start with the basics: a large egg contains 6 grams of protein. Therefore, we would need to eat about 6 eggs to fulfill our recommended protein total for the day (again, that’s based on a 1,750-calorie meal plan). Six eggs may sound like a lot, but when you think about it, most people eat a couple of eggs for breakfast, as well as meat or fish at lunch and/or dinner. And what about that healthy post-workout protein shake you pick up after the gym? A single scoop of whey protein powder often boasts around 25 grams of protein, more than one third of one’s daily recommended protein. And what about edamame? Just one cup of the soy beans will provide 30 grams of protein, nearly half of what we need for the whole day. The bottom line: we actually eat more protein than we need. A few eggs in the morning, a cup of yogurt for a mid-afternoon snack, and a fist-sized serving of meat at dinner may be all you really need. Don’t like eggs. Check out these Egg Free Snacks
An appropriate serving of nuts–one of the healthiest fats around when in eaten in moderation–generally weighs in at about 1/4 cup. A quarter cup of whole almonds consists of almost 18 grams of fat, nearly a third of one’s daily fat consumption if following a 1,750-calorie per day diet. How do our other fave fats measure up? A whole avocado packs 29 grams of fat, and a mere tablespoon of olive oil provides 14 grams of fat. A couple tablespoons of almond butter with your morning toast, a half-avocado in your salad at lunch, and a tablespoon of olive oil to cook your veggies at dinnertime is really all it takes. That Double SmokeShack burger at Shake Shack? It nearly consists of a whole day’s worth of fat, with a whopping 56 grams. Sorry, Shack-devotees.
How do we gauge the largest fraction of our daily diet, then? Here’s some insight: a single slice of whole wheat bread contains around 30 grams of carbs. But–shocker–bread (and cookies and cakes and rice) aren’t the only carbs out there: fruits and veggies count as carbs, too! A large apple, for example, will provide another 30 grams of carbs. How much is too much when it comes to carbs, then? Two slices of toast at breakfast with a banana, a cup of brown rice and veggies at lunch, a sweet potato at dinner, and fruit sprinkled with granola for dessert should be just about right. Did you notice how there are no chocolate chip cookies in sight and you’re still meeting your carb goal? We sure did.
How much do we need each day
The Australian Dietary Guidelines inform people of different ages, life stages and gender, the minimum number of serves from each food group they need to eat each day, to make sure they get the full amount of nutrients their body needs.
Most people who want to lose weight should stick to the minimum number of serves. However, people in their healthy weight range, who are taller than average or more physically active, may find they need extra serves from the five food groups.
Ideally, most of the extra serves should be chosen from the vegetables, fruit and grain (cereals) food groups but some extra choices can be made from milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, the lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs and/or alternative group, and including less often, unsaturated fats/oils/spreads. Discretionary choices are often an enjoyable part of the Australian diet, and can be included occassionally if your energy needs allow this.
Often people find that to get enough serves from all the food groups they need to:
- swap discretionary choices for foods from the five food groups
- make breads or grains part of at least two meals most days
- include vegetables at least twice a day, particularly important if you would like to lose weight
- make vegetables take up at least one third of meals and half the meal if you are trying to lose weight. So it’s important to serve vegetables or salad as a side dish even when eating meals like pasta, lasagne or risotto. By eating more vegetables in your meals, serves of other foods will be smaller and the overall meal will have fewer kilojoules.
- include lean meat or meat alternative as part of at least one meal a day
- add fruit to at least two meals or use as snacks or desserts
- include a serve of low fat milk, yoghurt or cheese as a significant part of at least two meals or snacks.
It’s also good for your health to include:
- fish meals every week
- meals with legumes every week
- a wide variety of different coloured vegetables every day.
There are five principal recommendations featured in the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Each Guideline is considered to be equally important in terms of public health outcomes.
To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs
- Children and adolescents should eat sufficient nutritious foods to grow and develop normally. They should be physically active every day and their growth should be checked regularly.
- Older people should eat nutritious foods and keep physically active to help maintain muscle strength and a healthy weight.
Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from these five groups every day:
- Plenty of vegetables, including different types and colours, and legumes/beans
- Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties, such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat (reduced fat milks are not suitable for children under the age of 2 years)
And drink plenty of water.
Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol
a. Limit intake of foods high in saturated fat such as many biscuits, cakes, pastries,
pies, processed meats, commercial burgers, pizza, fried foods, potato chips,
crisps and other savoury snacks.
- Replace high fat foods which contain predominantly saturated fats such as butter, cream, cooking margarine, coconut and palm oil with foods which contain predominantly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as oils, spreads, nut butters/pastes and avocado.
- Low fat diets are not suitable for children under the age of 2 years.
b. Limit intake of foods and drinks containing added salt.
- Read labels to choose lower sodium options among similar foods.
- Do not add salt to foods in cooking or at the table.
c. Limit intake of foods and drinks containing added sugars such as confectionary, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, energy and
d. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit intake. For women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.
Encourage, support and promote breastfeeding
Care for your food; prepare and store it safely