How Many Calories Do I Need?

How many calories do you need a day? Your calorie needs depend on your:

  • body size
  • age
  • height
  • weight
  • activity level
  • gender
  • other conditions, such as being pregnant

Determine Your Activity Level

Before you check out the calorie chart, choose which statement best describes your current activity level.

  • I don't do anything other than what I need to do for my usual activities, such as going to work or school, grocery shopping, or doing chores around the house. (This is considered not active.)
  • I do some moderate exercise every day in addition to doing my usual activities. For example, I walk about 1.5 to 3 miles a day at about 3 to 4 miles an hour. Or I do something else that's moderately active. (This is considered moderately active.)
  • I am very active every day in addition to doing my usual activities. For example, I walk more than 3 miles a day at about 3 to 4 miles an hour. Or I do something else that's very active. (This is considered very active.)

Next, find the line on the calorie chart that applies to you based on your gender, age, and level of activity. Remember that the chart estimates how many calories you should eat per day to keep your body weight where it is now.

If you want to lose weight, you may need fewer calories. You should talk with your health care team for more personalized recommendations, but this chart can help you get started.

If you have gained weight over time, it is because on average you are eating more calories than your body burns off. Extra calories add up over time and will turn into extra pounds.

One pound is equal to 3,500 calories. So, if you want to lose 1 pound per week, you would need to cut 500 calories from the calories that you usually eat in a day.

  • Last Reviewed: December 17, 2013
  • Last Edited: February 27, 2014

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